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that faculties are distinguished from their exercises. Without so much sense, on their part, there can be no reasoning with them. A man, who does not know, that the power of sight is distinct from the act of looking on an object; and, that an irrascible disposition is distinct from being in a rage, cannot understand any argument. Such a man might assert, concerning a stone which he saw rolling down the hill, that motion was essential to its nature, and that it ceased to be a stone, so soon as it rested on a level.
In treating of the CHRISTIAN GRACES, the principle must be admitted, that the regenerated soul is distinct froin its own moral actions : and that a holy disposition is distinct from its several pious exercises.
It must be allowed also, on our part, that to distinguish each Christian grace from every other, is difficult; but analysis is also difficult even in material subjects, which are visible and tangible.
The reason is plainly this : that there is no object presented to our investigation, which is perfectly simple, either in the material world, or among the exercises of our own minds. Every thing which we see is complex; and what the logicians call a simple idea, never, in fact, exists. All our mental operations are complex. It is true we can separate one piece of matter, one pebble from another, and examine it separately; but this object is, itself, compound. We may also distinguish one principle, or one action from another; but each of these is, in itself, again susceptible of analysis. Sensation cannot exist without percention, nor can either of them without being accompanied by volition : and a human volition never once existed where the operations of intellect were entirely excluded. No mental act whatever can have existence without volition.
The difficulty, therefore, of distinguishing the Christian graces, is one which is common to every subject of investigation
Faith, we have already said, never exists alone ; but is alway's accompanied by some degree of repentance, love, and hope. It is nevertheless distinct from each of them.
The word FAITH, when applied to designate a Christian grace, is properly a technical, theological term; and is not used precisely in its common acceptation, but in a figurative sense. It is thus employed, however, because its radical idea is a very prominent one in the use to which it is applied in theology.
Faith, in this connexion, is not a simple exercise of one faculty of the mind, exclusive of every other; but gives employment to all the mental powers of man. It includes perception, volition, attention, desire, affection, reasoning, and judgment. Ignorance alone will attempt to resolve it into any one of these.
Faith includes a knowledge of certain facts; an assent to cer. tain doctrines ; trust in a certain object; the approbation of a certain system ; and the acceptance of a certain offer. It implies each and all of these, and even more, but it is not one of them exclusively. It is that very grace by which the sinner does all this, that is in scripture called FAITH.
The probable reason why this word was selected to designate this grace of multifarious operation, is, that the radical meaning of the word is the most conspicuous idea in the theological meaning The radical meaning of the word faith is “ credit to testimony," and this is the leading idea by which the scriptures characterize that saving grace, which bears the appellation,
The revelation of grace is the testimony of God. Every part of the Bible belongs to this testimony Shouid any one separate any doctrine from this consideration, that it is a part of the gracious testimony of God, he would injure the truth. According to this dispensation of grace, God in Christ is the only object of our worship. He has proclaimed it from heaven, to be the good pleasure of his will, that there should be no transaction, of
Any kind, between man and himself, but according to the constitution of the covenant of grace. No law, no love, no invitation, no promise, no offer, nothing whatever is addressed by God to man, or is required and accepted by God of man, but upon the footing of this dispensation. The whole is a testimony. It is the province of faith to give credit to testimony. Hence, that grace which enables and disposes us to receive and act upon the testimony of God concerning his grace, is called faith. Now, from the very nature of the case it is utterly impossible that any
action of man can be acceptable to God, which is devoid of credit to this testimony. Therefore it is said, “ without faith it is impossible to please God.”
Faith, then, implies knowledge of this testimony, assent to its doctrines, approbation of the plan it reveals, and acceptance of the offer which it inakes to the sinner. In this way, and in no other, whatever, it gives reverence, love, and worship to God. It absolutely disclaims every other method of knowing, or loving, or serving God.
Unbelieving man is prone, if he seeks God at all, to seek him according to the rules of some other system, different from this, or abstracted from it. It requires the power of God to destroy the vain reasonings and imaginations of such a person, and reduce the sinner to the obedience of Christ, the obedience of faith. Under divine guidance, the soui, crediting the testimony of God, accepts the gospel offer, and thus becomes united to Christ. By the constitution of the system of grace, Jehovah, precluding himself from any transactions with men upon the footing of any other system, neither demands, nor communicates, nor accepts any love, or repentance, or any other exercise of fallen man, without faith, or before it exists. Credit to his tesa timony, with a knowledge of its contents, and an acceptance of the offer it makes, God demands of every sinner to whom his word is revealed. 66 This is his commandment that ye
believe in his Son.” He demands love, repentance, and hope ; but he demands them only through faith. He communicates these graces; but it is only through faith. Regenerated men exercise these graces: but it is only through faith.
Faith then, is the first exercise of the regenerated soul, it which it embraces the testimony of God and the offer of a Redeemer, with a full persuasion of their truth and excellency.
With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”
REPENTANCE signifies a change of mind, which includes both sentiment and inclination.
This grace is demanded of all, who think erroneously, or are disposed to evil; because in the first they sin in thought, and in the second they transgress in affection. Repentance is there. fore the duty of all sinners.
It is in the word of his testimony, that God now calls on men every where to repent : and since he will have no transactions with any man, according to any other system than that which is called evangelical, it is evangelical repentance alone that is man's duty. Any other change of mind would be sin.
Sinners are bound to repent because they are sinners, and God commands a change of thought, affection and pursuit.
Devils ought to repent for they are sinners; but both devils and « devilish" men, may, like Judas, often change their minds, or both their views and inclinations, relative to many objects of regard and courses of conduct. In some sense, and in belief of some truth, they may repent. But devilish penitence is not recorded on the catalogue of the Christian graces.
Christian penitence is demanded of us by God upon this ground, that he has given us a testimony concerning himself
, and our duty, to be accredited by us. It is exercised by us, on the same footing, through faith in that very testimony.
This penitence is a gift of Christ, who is exalted in order to bestow repentance on his people, by his Spirit ; which repents ance he works in them, through faith in the testimony of his grace. Christ shows his elect nothing, promises them nothing, gives thom nothing, abstracted from that system which he is exalted to administer. The Holy Ghost gives, in fact, no new dis
position to man, but as the Spirit of Christ; and the sinner never exercises evangelical repentance, without faith in the testimony which God hath given of his Son.
The revelation of grace, embracing every precept, threate ening, offer, promise, is the only light in which the mind is changed from darkness, and the only motive by which choice is de. termined to holiness. There is no repentance, therefore, without faith, which discerns this light, and regards this motive. As God requires of man no other repentance than that which is exercised in crediting his testimony, so he works by his Spirit no other than that which he requires.
Repentance is from sin to God: but there is no way from sin to God, except through Christ, and consequently there is no Christian repentance without faith, which enables us to turn to God, through Christ. Repentance includes hatred of sin, and grief for it : but the penitent hates and grieves on account of the contrariety of transgression and pollution to that divine excellency which shines in the testimony which faith alone receives. There can be no just views of sin, without just views of the authority which it opposes; and there can be no just views of God, or of his law, without understanding and accrediting the testimony, in which those views are exhibited. Again we say, therefore, that there is no repentance without faith.
Receiving the testimony of God, and embracing the Saviour which it offers, by faith the soul, enlightened, perceives the evil of sin, and the value of holiness. Philosophers may reason about the evil of sin ; but unless they are taught by a sight of the suffering Jesus, they are ignorant and know nothing as they ought. All the wonderful calculations of ingenious ministers cannot set sin in such a light, that it shall be the object of evangelical penitence, before the soul savingly believes the true and faithful saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Some appear to have supposed, that by their speculations about the character of God and the nature of transgression, abstractly considered, they could convince men of sin, and that from this view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, saving penitence might be exercised. These persons would do well to re