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tification of the Spirit unto obedience :" and then it is no wonder that un. converted men often credit such a gospel, which is entirely congènial to their pride and carnal minds. Because they may be delighted with the false notions thus given them of the character of God; while they continue to hate the infinitely just and holy God, whom the Scriptures reveal : as the Jews imagined they loved the God of Abraham, whose favourites they deemed themselves, though the Truth himself testified, “ Ye have both seen and hated both me and my Father.” And having once thus awfully quieted and pleased themselves with an unholy faith, a presumptuous confidence, selfish affections, and a carnalized gospel, it is alas not probable they should ever be undeceived, till the light of eternity tremendously show them their real character and situation.
The true gospel of Christ reveals “ a just God and a Saviour.”—The eter. nal Son of the Father became incarnate, to honour the righteous demands of the holy law by a divinely perfect obedience, during the whole course of his suffering life ; and to honour its curse by his unknown agonies in the garden and on the cross; that sinners, who most justly deserved, and who must otherwise inevitably have endured the everlasting wrath of God, might through his merits, ransom, and mediation, be freely pardoned, completely justified, and gradually recovered to perfect holiness by the Spirit of God given unto them. But an unhumbled unholy heart cannot truly believe this gospel ; and a faith which does not allow the excellency of the law, the desert of sin, and the justice of God in the awful sentence denounced against transgressors, cannot render him the glory of his free mercy in salvation. Much less can such a faith give God the glory of all his other perfections, as harmonizing with his mercy in that stupendous design, which is the admiration of angels, and all redeemed sinners, and shall be so to all eternity.
It is not meant, that the sinner, when he first comes for mercy to the Sac viour distinctly perceives these things : but he must be so far enlightened, humbled, softened, and changed, as to yield the point in contest; he must willingly come as a justly condemned criminal, for a free and holy salvation in the Lord's appointed way. So that an unholy faith can only welcome an unholy gospel, and make an unholy use of it: and it is observable, that such respectable men as are induced to plead in behalf of this kind of faith ; when they proceed to answer objections or to show its sanctifying tendency imper. ceptibly, and doubtless unintentionally, slide into quite another view of faith, and then it becomes very easy to make the cause appear specious; nor do most readers bestow sufficient pains to detect the latent fallacy, or to become so conversant in such subjects, as to be capable of exactly discriminating between them. The author, however, is confident, that his arguments, if duly weighed and compared with Scripture, will be found conclusive ; and fully prove that saving faith is a holy exercise of the soul.
Saving Faith the Principle of all other holy Dispositions, Affections, and Behaviour The holy nature of true faith may likewise be inferred, with absolute certainty, from the effects produced by it: for “ a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit ;”, and every tree is known by its fruit."-Faith, when genuine, excites all holy affections, and works by them in all holy obedience. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark."-Sinners, when warned to flee from the wrath to come, if they believe the warning, are moved with fear to forsake their sinful courses and carnal confidences; and when they have been instructed in the gospel,
if they believe that gracious message, they are moved “ to flee for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before them.” Even confirmed disciples are repeatedly warned, “not to fear them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do ; but to fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." Matt. x. 28. Luke xii. 4, 5. « Blessed is he that feareth always.” “ Be not high minded, but fear.” “ Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.' “Let us have grace to serve God, with reverence and godly fear ; for our God, is a consuming fire.” In proportion to the degree in which we understand and believe these words, we shall be moved with fear, to use proper means, and flee to a distance from the danger: for “a prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” And this fear implies reverence to the authority and justice of God, hope in his mercy, and a desire of his favour, and the happiness he bestows; which implies love of his excellencies, as well as dread of his awful power and indignation.
But the highest and purest energy of Faith consists in calling forth holy love into vigorous exercises ; and by its powerful influence constraining the believer to all devoted and self-denying obedience, and patient suffering for the Lord's sake. Indeed this will be perceived, by those who well consider the subject, to comprise every thing : for love is the leading affection of the soul, and governs all others.-When therefore the apostle would mark, in few words, the essential distinction between a Christian and all other men, he says, “ In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love." Gal. v. 6, 13, 14. Now “ love is the fulfilling of the law,” and likewise the principal fruit of the Spirit ; God is Love, and heaven is love: and can faith not at all holy excite in us the most holy and spiritual of all exercises of the rational soul ?--I say excite, not produce ; for, in strict propriety, the production of any holy disposition must be ascribed entirely to the Holy Spirit ; and no sort of faith could possibly work by holy love, if the heart continued unregenerate, and in a state of enmity against God.
The views, which saving faith gives the soul of those objects that revelation brings to our knowledge, are suited to call forth the most lively exercises of love to Christ, and the most delightful admiration of his glorious excellencies, and his compassion to lost sinners: they will excite also an ardent desire after the nearest union and communication with him, a decided preference of his favour to all earthly objects, a fear of coming short of this highest privilege and advantage, gratitude proportioned to our hope, zeal for his glory, attachment to his cause, and a peculiar regard to all which stands related to him or bears his image. This love of Christ is substantially the same with the love of God: for we sinners know, approach, believe, trust, love, and honour the Father, only in and by his beloved Son. The same exercises of faith call forth our love to our brethren, and to all men, according to the precepts and example of our beloved Redeemer : and thus faith working by love manifests itself in all godliness, righteousness, temperance, kindness, and beneficence. Even repentance, in all its exercises to the end of life, is excited by a belief of the divine testimony in one way or other ; while some degree of true repentance is necessary to explicit faith in Christ. In proportion to the increase and vigour of living faith, will be the growth and ardour of all holy affections, and our persevering fruitfulness in all real good works. The more clearly and constantly the believer contemplates a crucified Saviour, and scripturally relies on him with earnest application of heart for all the blessings of salvation; the more humble, spiritual, obedient, zealous, loving, harmless, pure, self-denying, and actively beneficent will be be. And the
reason of this is, because true faith, springing from regeneration, co-exists in the heart with all other gracious dispositions; and evidencing to the soul one part of divine truth after another, as circumstances require and occasions are given, it excites them all by turns into more vigorous and sen
sible exercise. It is, however, an unedifying curious speculation to dispute which of them in order of time has the priority: “ seeing the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," quickening the sinner who had been dead in sin, is at once the Author and Source of them all. The varied experiences of different persons, with the numberless undiscoverable, and generally unnoticed, circumstances, which cause some first to attend to one, and some to another, of the feelings of their own minds, will certainly lead them to different and even contrary determinations, according to the schemes of doctrine which they severally adopt.
It is very commonly stated that “ faith purifies the heart:" but the language of Scripture is more accurate :-namely, that “God purifieth the heart by faith.” Acts xv. 9. Having enabled the sinner, by his new-creating .grace, cordially to believe the gospel ; by the varied actings of that faith he excites every holy affection; and as these prevail and gather strength, all unholy desires and propensities are dethroned, hated, mortified, and gradually abolished. In entire agreement with this, yet taking another view of the subject, the apostle Peter says, Seeing ye have purified your souls, in obeying the truth, through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren ; see
love one another with a pure heart fervently.” i Peter i. 22. They were active in this purifying of their souls ; but it was effected by obeying the truth; and this was done by the grace of the Holy Spirit. For “ the fruit of the Spirit is love." No man, who scripturally holds the doctrine of regeneration, will ascribe the " purifying of the heart” to faith, as to its efficient “ cause;" but faith is the spiritual organ of sight and perception, through which invisible things are so shown to the soul by the Holy Spirit, as to effect, through his continual agency, a gradual renovation. Faith (being itself the gift of God and the operation of the Spirit) applies for, and receives those heavenly influences, by which the seeds of universal holiness, sown in regeneration, spring forth and grow to maturity ; according to the declaration of St. Paul, “ We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord ;” and thus we are gradually purified from the remainder of our proud, carnal, and selfish passions and propensities.
Similar to this is the language of St. John, “ This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world ; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” The apostle ascribes these effects of " loving God, keeping his commandments, and overcoming the world, to the faith of those who are born of God; and he evidently speaks of this faith as essentially bclonging to that which is born of God. Such a faith, exciting and working by holy love, gives the soul a decided victory over the love of worldly objects, the fear of men, a false shame and regard to character, and every carnal and selfish principle : and it thus renders obedience not only practicable, but delightful. Thus St. Paul exclaims, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.” Gal. vi. 14.
He also shows us that all the self-denying, courageous, and zealous obedience of the Old Testament saints sprang from faith, as its immediate cause. “ By faith Enoch walked with God.” “ By faith Abraham obeyed ;-and offered Isaac." By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter ; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible." Let any sober and pious mind determine whether the judgment, choice, and purpose of faith, in these cases, were not spiritual and holy.--In many instances, the particular exercise of faith, to which the obedience is ascribed, was entirely
distinct from reliance on Christ for salvation : but even here faith had the same general nature; it cordially received the testimony of God, and in his prescribed way expected the performance of his promises, from his divine mercy, power, and faithfulness; and had reference to the predicted Messiah, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. The same faith, which interested these ancient servants of God in Christ for justification, influenced them to render the promptest obedience in the most difficult circumstances : and it is observable, that the same actions, which the apostle ascribes to faith as their principle, are elsewhere spoken of as the result and evidence of other holy dispositions.“ By faith, Abraham, when he was tried,
Isaac." “ By this I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.". Heb. xi. 17. Gen. xxii. 12.
The words of the Lord Jesus to the apostle of the Gentiles shows the holy nature, as well as the sanctifying efficacy, of true faith. “ I send thee to them, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me.
This commission the apostle executed, by “ showing that men should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance:” Acts xxvi. 16-20. and certainly it implies that sinners are illuminated, and converted unto God, in order to their forgiveness, and not in consequence of it. And as sanctification is here ascribed to the efficacy of faith in Christ, so our Lord elsewhere says, “Sanctify them ty thy truth; thy word is truth.” John xvii. 17. Holy truth alone can be the seed of holiness in the soul : “ the good seed is the word of the kingdom:" but tares produce tares: and an honest and good heart is the only ground in which that seed takes root, springs up, and brings forth fruit; or a holy faith alone can so receive the holy truth, as to use it in progressive sanctification. Dropping the metaphor, Christ had before said to the eleven, “ Now ye are clean, through the word which I have spoken unto you:" John XV. 3. Thus our Lord, while Judas was present, said to the apostles, “ Ye are clean, but not all :" yet after the traitor was gone, he said to the eleven, “Now ye are clean through the word I have spoken to you.”—It is however evident, not only that Judas had heard the same word; but that his faith differed from that of the other apostles, more in the manner of his believing, than in the doctrines he believed.
Indeed every thing holy in the hearts and lives of sinners, (except regeneration) is ascribed in the Scriptures to the energy of faith in its varied exercises; whereas many seem almost entirely to confine this influence to justification, except as they, without the least warrant from Scripture, speak of its regenerating the soul! Christians live by faith, stand by faith, walk by faith, obey by faith, fight the good fight of faith, overcome the world by faith, and
are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.” The shield of faith is one principle part of our spiritual armour; and as every other part of this panoply of God denotes things of a holy nature, why should faith alone be deemed an exception? Or are we justified by one kind of faith, and do we fight our enemies by another? We read of “ the work of faith, the labour of love, and the patience of hope :" but who can imagine, that the apostle meant a holy love, a holy hope, and an unholy faith? “ As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him," (that is, by the same kind of faith ;) “ rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught.” Col. ii. 6,7.
It has been repeatedly observed, that true faith, by receiving the sure testimony of God, appropriates the information he bestows on those most important subjects, concerning which unbelief must remain in ignorance, or be left to uncertain reasonings and conjectures. It is therefore a real act of faith to believe on this sure testimony, that “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God:” that “ we cannot serve God and Mammon:" and that “ no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and
of God; let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” If then a person be actually living in the practice of any of these iniquities, and yet think himself a justified person because of his creed and experience ; his confidence is the result of direct unbelief, and expressly treats the plain testimony of God as a lie :
It is indeed a distinct act of faith to believe that “ Jesus is the Son of God;" that “he died for our sins, and rose again for our justification :" and that “he is able to save to the uttermost all them that come to God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” But it would be very absurd to suppose, that these divine testimonies contradict those before mentioned; or that any man truly believed the one, while he directly disbelieved the other! When therefore a sinner is brought truly to believe those declarations of Scripture, which show his real state and character, he is prepared to believe also those truths which relate to Christ and his salvation, and will certainly apply to him for deliverance from sin as well as from condemnation. This is properly faith in Christ, and it is immediately connected with justifi. cation; but it implies the belief of all other truths contained in the sacred oracles, as far as they are understood and seen to be there revealed. Such of these as relate to the perfections, authority, and glory of God, with our relations and accountableness to him, the immortality of the soul, the resure rection of the body, a future judgment, and eternal happiness or misery; when set before the soul by that “ faith, which is the evidence of things not seen,” are suited to call forth awful reverential fear of God, and of his holy heart-searching presence, dread of his wrath, regard to his will, sorrow for sin, humiliation, and abhorrence of evil. The realizing belief of those truths, which more especially relate to the gospel, is equally calculated to excite a lively hope of mercy; a purifying, establishing, yea triumphant expectation of heavenly felicity; ardent longings after spiritual blessings, counterbalanced with jealous fears of coming short of them ; admiring, adoring, grateful love; zeal for the honour of God, and the success of true religion ; proportional disregard to temporal interests or losses, pains or pleasures, honour or dishonour ; unfeigned and fervent love of our brethren and neighbours and even of our most embittered enemies; and still deeper self-abasement and hatred of all sin.
These affections, when vigorous and permanent, being connected with a firm dependence on the promises of the new covenant, and maintained in exercise by s communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," through the sacred influences of the Holy Spirit, sre fully adequate to the ends for which they were intended ; and cannot but impel and constrain the lively believer to the most self-denying and devoted obedience, and the most persevering patience in suffering for the sake of Christ and the gospel. Hence originated all those extraordinary actions of zealous obedience, courageous firmness, and unwearied endurance which the Scriptures record, and which have appeared in the character and conduct of saints and martyrs in every age of the church. And upon diligent and patient investigation it will be found, that this view of faith consolidates, as it were, and harmonizes the whole of what the oracles of God teach us on these subjects; so that precepts, doctrines, promises, threatenings, exhortations, invitations, cautions, and delineations of character, all here meet in full agreement.
Man is justly condemned for breaking the holy and good law of his Creator, and for being an enemy to him in his heart. The way of reconciliation and recovery is provided in Emmanuel's person and redemption, to the praise of the glory of God. All who truly believe are fully pardoned and justified, and shall be eternally saved : this faith is the effect of regeneration, and results from spiritual life ; it implies true repentance in its very essence ; it works by love of God and man; it purifies the heart and overcomes the world; it gradually forms the character, regulates the temper and passions, influences the words and actions, and thus, through the continued agency of the Holy Spirit, renders the believer fruitful and zealous in all good works.