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vacated and set aside; and that man is actually the safest, who inost confidently thinks himself safe!
Far be it from me to charge all, who favour, or seem to favour, this notion of faith, with perceiving or allowing, these consequences : for many of them bestow much laudable pains to inculcate a contrary spirit and conduct, and imagine they can shew that their doctrine has no such tendency. But after all, the inference fairly and undeniably follows from the premises : and more consistent men, who have none of their piety, will deduce it, and practise accordingly.
If the reader has imbibed the sentiment, that this high confidence of salvation by Christ, even without conscious humiliation and change of heart, is the strong faith spoken of in Scripture: let him very seriously ask himself, (and ask the Lord too in earnest prayer for his teaching) whether this is not the very character, delineated under the similitude of the stony-ground hearers! Whether this is not the vain-confidence of all those evangelical hypocrites, who deceive themselves without expressly designing to deceive others? And whether James does not most directly address such professors when he says, “ Know, O vain man, that faith without “ works is dead !”—These are questions which should not be cursorily passed over, by him who would know the truth as it is in Jesus:" for in fact they comprise the substance of the whole controversy.
It is not generally and expressly denied, by those who feel themselves interested in these enquiries, that the gospel was intended to honour the holy law of God; to display in perfect harmony the infinite justice, purity, wisdom, goodness, mercy, and truth of his all-glorious character; to lay a foundation for the hope of the vilest transgressors, connected with the most effectual provision for their humiliation and renewal to the divine image; to excite in the hearts of the redeemed, the most fervent exercises of admiring, adoring, zealous, joyful, and thankful love to the God of their salvation; and finally to exhibit the divine glory, in the most awful and
affecting 'light that possibly could be, to the whole intel-
The true gospel of Christ reveals “ a just God and a
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 Saviour, 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 shew its sanctifying tendency, imperceptibly, 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 saring faith is a holy exercise of the soul.
Saring 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:
a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit;" and - every tree is known by its fruit."--Faith, when genuine, excites all holy affectio 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 mored 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 able to dea
stroy both body and soul in hell!." “ 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 inoved with fear, to use proper means, and fle to a distance from the danger: for a prudent man foreseeth the evil, and “ bideth himself, but the simple pass on and are punish“ ed.” And this fear implies reverence of 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 lorc into vigorous exercise; 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 lore 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 2.” Now “ love is the
fulfilling of the law," and likewise the principal fruit
1 Matt. 'x. 28. Luke xii, 4, 5.
2 Gal. v, 6, 13, 14.
of the Spirit; God is Love, and heaven is love: and can a faith not at all holy excite in us the most holy and spiritual of all exercises of the rational soul ?- I say ercite, 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 communion 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 dirine 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 he be.
And the reason of this is, because true faith, springing