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of salvation being bestowed upon the soul, it is to be feared they are in danger of selfcongratulation, and of thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think. Attaching any degree of merit to faith, however small that degree may be, will necessarily detract from the freeness of it as a gift, and tend to elate the mind with spiritual pride. We caution all such against their inconsistency; and exhort them to beware of adopting or continuing in a system which is calculated, in any measure, to exalt the creature at the expence of the freeness of divine grace. In short, let every believer remember, that “ He standeth by a faith” which is not in his own power. therefore, O christian, "high minded, but fear.' “ Walk humbly with thy God.” * Thus thy soul will be kept under the influence of that faith which is of divine operations; and ere long that faith will be turned into sight, and its effects here, exchanged for the everlasting fruition of God our Saviour.
« Be not,
Faith Works by Love.
GALATIANS, CHAPTER V. VERSE 6.
Faith which worketh by love.
NOTHING perhaps is so detrimental to a work of grace in the heart, as an unreasonable attachment to the externals of religion, and an anxiety to promote a party spirit, amongst the professors of Christianity. Great was the injury which the Galatians received, from an indulgence of such dispositions. Feeling solicitous, beyond due bounds, about the non-essential points of religion, the vital power of it, which they had formerly enjoyed, gradually decayed; and no long time had elapsed, before the Apostle Paul considered it necessary to expostulate with them on their folly. foolish Galatians,” heexclaimed, “who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” that is, by an attention to mere external and carnal ceremonies ? Their error consisted in a 'rigid adherence to the
ancient institution of circumcision. By an indulgence in that error, they were drawn from the simplicity which is in Christ Jesus; a separation from the more humble followers of the Saviour ensued ; a party spirit was greatly promoted; and the power of Divine grace in the soul seemed almost extinguished. Hence the Apostle observed to them, in the words connected with the Text " In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision—these are points of mere indifference, under the Gospel dispensation : that which is the sum and substance of religion, and which demands the utmost solicitude is, “Faith which work. eth by love."
I have selected this pleasing portion of scripture, with a view to introduce a few discourses on the effects of faith. " We have seen that it is through faith we are brought into a state of salvation, and that faith is to be obtained from God as his gift. The propriety, therefore, of calling your attention tothe natureoffaith, with reference to its effects in our experience and practice, cannot but be acknowledged. The present subject will lead us to shew,
I. That faith necessarily works by love.
II. The nature of that love by which it works.
The character of God—the object on which faith is principally exercised—and the distinguished place which it holds in the Christian religion, claim our attention in illustrating the first particular.
Consider the character of God. What are the ideas which it becomes us to entertain of him, as he is exhibited in the works of nature, and in the book of revelation ?The prominent feature of his character is love. “All his proceedings in the economy of creation, providence, and grace, are so many evidences that his love towards us, is a love that passeth knowledge. View, for a moment, the dispensations of his provi. dence. There we notice the most afflictive occurrences converted into blessings-the evil dispositions of mankind restrainedand all things working together for our good. Mercies are descending around our habitations—the invaluable blessings of health, and strength, and reason, in general attending us—friends are raised up in times of extremity—and many a gathering cloud bursts with favours on our heads.
. In the dispensations of his grace, his character, as a God of love, is still more strikingly exhibited. His laws are broken, his mercies are abused, and his wrath incur: red, by the whole human race. But instead of pouring his heavy displeasure upon us, his bowels of mercies have yearned over us, and his own Son has been sent from heaven, to deliver us from the vengeance we deserve. Yes, “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”. And in order effectually to accomplish this grand design, the Holy Spirit, in his enlightening, sanctifying, and comforting influences, has been sent into the hearts of mankind-ministers have been commissioned to preach the everlasting Gospel-various means of grace have been appointed
and the sacred scriptures given, which are able to make us wise unto salvation. Add to these considerations, the unspeakable blessings which great numbers, through successive periods, have actually enjoyed. Who can specify the various instances, in which the Almighty has illuminated the benighted mind-has pardoned offences which cried to heaven for vengeance -has melted the hearts of the most hardened transgressors-has poured celestial consolation into souls which refused to be comforted? Who can enumerate how many backsliders he hath restored-how many ungodly he hath sanctified, and how many sunk in wretchedness he hath raised to glory? Nay, are not the hearts of in this assembly ready to exclaim-" What shall we render to the Lord for all his benefits towards us? He hath brought us up also out