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the answers of our Saviour, to many of the questions which were propounded to him, seem not to the purpose, but, as it were, impertinent to the state of the question demanded. The reasons hereof are two: the one, that being he knew the thoughts of those that propounded the questions, not from their words, as we men use to do, but immediately, and of himself, he made answer to their thoughts, not to their words. The other reason is, that he spoke not only to them that were then present, but to us also who now live, and to men of every age and place to whom the gospel should be preached; which sense in many places of scripture must take place.
'Certainly as wines which at first pressing run gently, yield a more pleasant taste than those where the wine-press is hard wrought, because those somewhat relish of the stone and skin of the grape; so those observations are most wholesome and pleasant which flow from scriptures gently expressed and naturally expounded, and are not wrested or drawn aside to common places or controversies: such a treatise we will name, The Emanations of Scripture.”
Nothing can be more judicious and salutary than these remarks. For, as this great guide to the true method of philosophizing has justly ob
a Bacon, of the Advancement of Learning, book ix. sect. 3.— Translation of Gilbert Wats.
served, that the genuine philosopher is only the interpreter of nature; so the true divine is but the interpreter of scripture.
All the branches of the Christian scheme are the objects of that faith by which the understanding is informed, the heart influenced, and the whole conduct regulated; by which the just shall live; without which it is impossible to please God; and through which by grace we are saved; and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God. It is, therefore, of infinite importance rightly to understand the nature and effects of this saving faith. To the discussion of these, to the consideration of the vast superiority of Christian morality over that of every other system, and to the elucidation of the moral tendency and effects of the whole Christian scheme, I shall appropriate the last part of this work.
a Hab. ii. 4. Rom. i. 17. Gal. iii. 11. Heb. x. 38; xi. 6. Eph. ii. 8.
OF FAITH-OF CHRISTIAN MORALITY, COMPARED WITH THAT OF EVERY OTHER MORAL SYSTEMOF THE MORAL TENDENCY AND EFFECTS OF THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN SCHEME.
AFTER all that has been said and written on the subject of saving faith, it is matter both of surprise and regret that its nature should often be grossly mistaken, and, by the generality of Christians, apprehended at best in an obscure, imperfect, and confused manner. Nor is it less surprising that this topic should be involved in such dark and mysterious terms as are almost unintelligible. Hence, the greater part of men are apt to suppose, that the modification of mind which is expressed by the words saving faith,
is of a character and complexion totally different from that act of the understanding by which we assent to any other set of opinions, and, if these be of a practical nature, by which our conduct is influenced. Nothing can, in my opinion, be plainer than the nature and effects of saving faith; and if my ideas do not greatly mislead me, I hope that I shall be able to render it equally plain to the reader. Truth is easily discerned when it is stripped of adventitious colourings, viewed in its native simplicity, and, when religion is concerned, disengaged from that mystic jargon which, conveying no distinct notion whatever, darkens what it affects to explain.
My object in this chapter is to evince that there is no difference, at least in the act of the mind, between faith in the gospel, such a faith as is the means of rendering us partakers of all the blessings which it bestows, and that persuasion which is produced by the attentive consideration of any other truth or series of propositions whatThis opinion has been suggested to me by the apostle Paul's definition of that gospel faith which I propose to illustrate. "Faith," says he," is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;"" that act of the mind by which it considers future things as
a Heb. xi. 1.
certain, and those which are distant as if they were present.
I. It may be established as a principle that the will, or active power in man, is always influenced and directed by the understanding, at least as far as any individual object of desire or aversion is concerned. Man has received from his Creator certain active principles, which begin to operate as soon as he begins to exert his faculties. These, however, are not mere instincts, but are subjected to the control and direction of reason. Thus, though he naturally desires agreeable, and is averse from painful sensations, conveyed by his senses; though he naturally desires the means of procuring or continuing the former, and of averting or removing the latter; though he naturally loves praise and hates disgrace; though he is ambitious of respect and influence, and has an abhorrence of contempt; though he possesses social and benevolent affections, and feels the obligations of virtue; yet, being susceptible of various sources of enjoyment, and exposed to pains equally various, he is also endued with the faculty of comparing, examining, and choosing, in such a manner as to enable him to prefer those enjoyments which afford the highest happiness of his nature, and to avoid those evils which constitute its greatest misery. When, therefore, any individual object, whether it be agreeable or painful, is presented to him, he is