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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 salva- tion.”—The shield of faith is one principal 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, o 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 6 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 66 been taught*."
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 disobedi
" ence.” 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 justifica
tion;" 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 66 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 shew his real state and character; he is prepared to believe also those truths, which reIate 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 justification : 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 resurrection 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 espe
cially 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; proportionable 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 “ communion with the " Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," through the sacred influences of the Holy Spirit, are 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 niartyrs 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.
“ In Christ Jesus nothing availeth, but faith " that worketh by love;"_" nothing availeth
but a new creature.” . Circumcision is no
thing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the “ keeping of the commandments of God." According to the view given above, these several propositions perfectly coincide. The new creature exercises faith that worketh by love; and “this is " the love of God that we keep his commandments, " and his commandments are not grievous." “ He," says the divine Saviour,
the divine Saviour, " that hath my “ commandments and keepeth them; he it is “ that loveth me.” “Ye are my friends, if ye do “ whatsoever I command you." And St. John says, “ And this is my commandment, that ye
another I have loved you.” “ This “ commandment have we from him, that he 66 who loveth God love his brother also.” If St. James says,
« Faith without works is “ dead ;” St. Paul plainly teaches that no faith availeth, except that which worketh by love. And when the former enquiries, 66 Was not
* I Cor. vii. 19. Gal. v. 6. vi, 15.
" Abraham our father justified by works, when “ he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” he answers his own question by adding, “Seest " thou how faith wrought by his works, and by " works was faith made perfect:!and the Scrip“ ture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham be“ lieved God, and it was accounted to him for “ righteousness, and he was called the friend of 66 God *.”
The question to be resolved, in the decision of every man's doom at the day of judgment, according to numerous Scriptures, must be this, • Was he a believer in Christ or not?'- If any one profess faith in Christ, it will be enquired, " Whether his faith were living or dead ?'
Whether or not it wrought by love of Christ, ' and of his brethren for Christ's sake?'. As a man's actions, when the whole shall be disclosed, determine this point, so will his sentence be: while the degree of the unbeliever's guilt will fix the measure of his punishment; and the believer will be graciously recompensed in proportion to his fruitfulness. This seems to elucidate and harmonize all the representations given us of this infinitely momentous concern.
The holy judge himself hath solemnly warned his professed disciples on this all-important subject, when with unspeakable dignity he declares, “ Not
every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, “ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but $6 he that doeth the will of my Father which is “ in heaven.—Many will say unto me in that “ day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in
thy name ? and in thy name have cast out “ devils ? and in thy name done many wonder6 ful works? And then will I profess unto you,
never knew you, Depart from me, ye that
Me James ii. 14-26.