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must have proportionably a still stronger tendency to it. Yet this is not supposed by the persons in question: for they see, that justification and sanctification, in the advanced Christian, are perfectly distinct: how is it then, they do not recollect
, that they are distinct at the first, as well as at the last ? Or if they allow it, how can they but perceive that their objections in this respect are perfectly unfounded ?
Saving Faith the effect of Regeneration. The holy nature of saving faith may be inferred from the consideration, that it is the gift of God, and wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit. To this it may indeed be objected, that many gifts are conferred by the same divine Agent, which are allowed to have nothing essentially holy in their nature. It should, however, be observed, that in those things which inseparably accompany salvation, the Holy Spirit directly acts upon the dispositions and affections of the heart, stamps his own image, and communicates his own holy nature to the soul, by permanently operating on all its faculties, as an in-dwelling source of life, light, parity, and felicity; whereas in imparting spiritual gifts, or miraculous powers, he only works upon natural principles, or enables a man occasionally to perform supernatural actions, without any abiding union or assimilation. Balaam, Judas, and many who in Christ's name prophesied, cast out devils, and wrought miracles, continued all the while covetous, ambitious, malignant, or sensual workers of iniquity : but no man ever truly
believed in Christ, while his heart continued the wilding slave of any lust.—As these gifts and powers are not holy in their nature, or even in their effects; so neither are they connected with salvation, by any indissoluble bond: but faith in Christ is more explicitly and frequently in Scripture connected with eternal salvation, than any
other exercise of the heart or soul whatever. If it therefore be not holy in its own nature; it is an exception to the general rule: for no other fruit, or gift; or operation, of the Holy Spirit, that invariably accompanies salvation, can be mentioned, which is not indisputably holy in its essential nature.
As unbelief springs from the “ love of dark
ness rather than light;" because the deeds of the unbeliever are evil: so faith must arise from the love of light rather than darkness, because of an incipient disposition to keep God's commandments. “He that doeth truth cometh to " the light, that his deeds may be made mani“ fest that they are wrought in God.” When the evil heart of unbelief is removed, and the sinner has received the love of the truth; then “ with the heart he believeth unto righteousness." But in proportion as the doctrines of the gospel are proposed to the minds of proud and carnal men, with convincing energy; they excite the greater measure of scorn, rage and enmity.
The overbearing evidence, with which the hated light is poured in upon the reluctant understanding, disturbs and torments the conscience, affronts the self-complacency of the heart, and calls forth into vigorous opposition those evil propensities which before lay dormant. This was the effect of our Lord's discourses and those of his apostles, on the unbelieving priests, scribes, and Pharisees. Undeniable miracles, unanswerable arguments, decisive scriptural proofs, pointed warnings, and rebukes, and the clear light of divine truth, connected with the meekness of wisdom and holy love, served but to excite the more determined resistance from their ambition, avarice, envy, and resentment: and when they were completely baffled, and could say nothing against either the miracles or the doctrine, they were enraged even to madness.
When a partial view of divine truth gains the assent of the understanding, without a disposition of heart congenial to the grand scope of christianity: such professors are formed, as our Lord describes under the similitude of the stonyground: and their fallacious confidence, selfish joy, and temporary faith, while “they have no “root in themselves, but in time of temptation “ fall away,” are exemplified by facts on every side. The seed too sown on thorny ground represents another very common way, in which a carnal heart “ holds the truth in unrighte
ousness," by a dead faith, an unwarrantable confidence, and an awful mistake as to the tendency and design of revealed truth : but an honest and good heart is the only good ground, in which the word of the kingdom will so “take “ root, and spring up, as to bring forth fruit 66 with patience."
It is really surprising, that, with such Scriptures before them, serious and reflecting persong should speak of faith in Christ, as 'a mere act • of the understanding, produced by a common illumination, totally distinct from regenera
tion !' I would ask those who use such language, whether this be not precisely the definition of a dead faith? and whether any man be capable of giving a better? For is it not an assent of the understanding to the doctrines of the gospel as true, without
any consent of the heart to them as good and holy? It is by no means intended, that
all, who inadvertently seem to favour this sentiment, really countenance a dead faith; for many parts of their writings have a contrary tendency: but it shews how readily even good men, when contending for a systein, may be seduced to sanction opinions which entirely suit the purposes of very bad men.
In forming our judgment on this subject, let us next consider the following words of our blessed Saviour; “ No man can come unto me, except 6 the Father which hath sent me, draw him :". “ It is written in the prophets, And they shall 6 all be taught of God.” “Every man therefore,
that hath heard and learned of the Father, 6 cometh unto me. Therefore said I unto you, “ No man can come unto me except it were gi“ ven him of my Father*.” Coming to Christ is the same as believing in him, at least as far as the present argument is concerned : and has this gift of the Father, this drawing, teaching, hearing, and learning, nothing holy in its nature? Surely, upon second thoughts, every serious mind will adopt the apostle's words,“ Do not “ err, my beloved brethren; every good gift, “ and every perfectgift is from above, and cometh “ down from the Father of lights, with whom is “no variableness neither shadow of turning :" especially as the same apostle afterwards carefully distinguishes the wisdom which is from above, by its holy and sanctifying nature, from that wisdom, which is “ earthly, sensual, and devil“ish ;” as well as a living from a dead faith, by the holy obedience that accompanies it t.
But our divine Instructor has not left us to form our own conclusions from this general language: for he hath shewn us in what manner
John vi. 44, 45, 65.
the Father teaches and draws the sinner to come to him. When the Comforter is come, he 56 shall convince the world of sin, of righteous“ ness, and of judgment."-"He shall lead you
into all truth."-" He shall glorify me; " for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew 66 it unto you * Under the illuminating and convincing influences of the Holy Spirit, sinners become acquainted with their own true character and real situation : and thus the discovery of their guilt, pollution, danger, and helpless misery in themselves, prepares them for perceiving the nature and value of the salvation of Christ. Then he becomes glorious in their eyes, and precious to their hearts: they consider him as the Pearl of great price, yea of inestimable value. “ What things were gain to " them, they now count to be loss for Christ.” The fear of being rejected by him overpowers all other fears, and is frequently the source of permanent anxiety. The desire of his salvation, and of the felicity which they conceive his people to enjoy, overcomes their love of worldly objects. They are thus prepared to forsake all for Christ: and no important secular interest, no beloved relative, no, not even life itself, is so precious in their deliberate practical judgment, as the loving Saviour of lost sinners. In
proportion as the Holy Spirit presents the things which pertain to him and his salvation, before one, who is thus taught of God, and drawn by the Father, all these affections are uniformly ex. cited and invigorated : yet the very same things, when plainly set before the proud and carnal minds of unregenerate sinners, awaken contempt, enmity, and blasphemous rage. And is
• John xvi, 8, 15,