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ing on the offices of Christ, general and particular. I shall only add,
10. That faith comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon the divine attributes, as they are manifested and displayed in Christ. God, absolutely considered, is the sinner's terror; and every attribute of God taken up absolutely, or in a law view, breathes nothing but wrath and ruin to the whole tribe of Adam in their fallen state: but God, manifesting himself in the flesh, or in the nature of man, through his death and satisfaction, every attribute of the divine nature presents itself as with a pleasant smile, inviting sinners to come to him as an object of trust; and, accordingly, faith leans upon these attributes of God, as the soul comes up from the wilderness. I shall only instance in these few :—
1st, Art thou surrounded with troubles on every hand? art thou called to engage with work thou art not able to manage? Well, here is the arm of Omnipotence stretched out, to strengthen, help, and uphold," Is. xli. 10. And, accordingly, faith leans on the power of God, according to that command, Is. xxvi. 4: "Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength." Paul leaned on the power of God, when he cried, "I can do all things through Christ strengthening me." So did the three children: "Our God whom we trust, is able to deliver us." So did Abraham; he was "persuaded, that he who had promised, was able also to perform," &c.
2dly, Art thou at any time brought to thy wits' end, that thou knowest not what to do? Well, in that case faith leans on the infinite wisdom or omniscience of a God in Christ: 2 Chron. xx. 12: "Neither know we what to do, but òur eyes are upon thee. The Lord knows how to deliver the righteous." When the poor soul has been trying and searching itself, and, alas! is afraid it be deceived by a treacherous heart; in this case, faith will have recourse to the omniscience of a God in Christ, and say, "Search me, O God, and try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me," &c. When the poor soul is afraid of the secret plots of Satan, or of his confederates; in this case faith leans upon an omniscient God in Christ; who "discovers deep things out of darkness, and brings out to light the shadow of death."
3dly, Is the believer in the wilderness deserted by friends, or separated from them by banishment, imprisonment, or the like, saying with the church, Psal. cii. 6, 7, "I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert: I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house-top?" In this case faith leans upon the immensity of a God in Christ, and is ready to say, Though I be alone and forsaken by all
creatures, yet I cannot be parted or separated from my God, for a whole God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is every where present: "Do not I, the Lord, fill heaven and earth?" and "my way is not hid from the Lord, and my judgment is not passed over from my God:" and my fellowship and converse shall be with him, when I cannot have fellowship with my friends and familiars, who are removed far from me.
4thly, Oh but, may the believer say, I am a vile polluted creature, defiled in heart, lip, and life: and therefore the holiness of God is a terror to me, that I dare not so much as look towards the place where his honour dwells: "He is of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity."
Answ. The very holiness of a God in Christ, which thou makest use of to discourage thy faith, is glorious matter of support and encouragement; for faith's way of arguing from God's holiness is this: God is infinitely pure and holy, and therefore he will sanctify and purify me from iniquity; he hates sin, and punishes it, therefore he will destroy my lust; for it is not my person, but my sins and lusts, that are the objects of his hatred. If the rod come, why not? for thereby he will make me a "partaker of his holiness," and purge away my iniquity. It is mine iniquity, and not me, that he will "visit with the rod, and my transgression with stripes ;" it is not me, but my sins, that he designs to destroy. But,
5thly, Say you, Can faith lean upon the justice of God? Answ. Yes, it can: for though this attribute be a rock of offence, to grind the wicked into powder; yet it is a rock of sweet repose and rest to the believer. Oh, will faith say, Lord, I have indeed sinned, and deserved thy wrath; and if thou mark iniquity, I cannot stand: but here is my relief, my Surety has done and suffered all that the law required; "he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities," &c.; and it is inconsistent with justice to punish the same transgression twice. Hence faith concludes, with Paul, "There is therefore now no condemnation: Who can lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" &c.
6thly, Faith sweetly leans upon the goodness, mercy, and love of God in Christ. Oh, will faith say, has God been so good, and gracious, and merciful, as to send his only-begotten Son, &c.; he has given him unto the death to be a curse, and to be made sin for me; and will he not do every other thing? "He that spared not his own Son, but gave him unto the death for us all, how will he not with him also freely give us all things? Oh how excellent is this his loving-kindness! therefore the sons of men shall put their trust under the shadow of thy wings."
7thly, Faith leans on the truth and faithfulness of God in
Christ. Oh, says faith, "faithfulness is the girdle of his loins ;" he is so true to his word, that "heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot of his word fall to the ground;" and therefore I will lean and rest myself here with assured confidence; and though he may defer the accomplishment of his word, "The yet I will believe and wait, and will not make haste: vision is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie; though it tarry, I will wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry." Thus, I say, faith goes up from the wilderness leaning on the divine attributes, as they are manifested in Christ. And thus I have endeavoured to show what is the object of the life of faith, or what it is in Christ that faith leans upon, as it comes up from the wilder
Quest. 3. What is the difference between the life of faith, and the life of sight or sense? The words of the apostle, 2 Cor. v., gives ground for this inquiry, when he informs us, that while in the body, "we walk by faith, and not by sight;" and because "the life he lived in the flesh, was a life of faith upon the Son of God:" by which he plainly intimates, that a life of faith is calculated for an imbodied state, and that a life of sight and sense is not suited to our present condition here in the wilderness. There are these few things I offer to clear the difference:
1. Sense regards only what a man has in hand, or presently enjoys; but faith looks to what a man has in Christ, and in the well-ordered covenant. Sense is like a child that is better pleased with a penny, or any little trifle the parent gives it, than if he were giving it a charter to the whole estate; but faith, although it will not despise any thing that comes from the hand of the Father, yet it is particularly taken up with the charter of the promise or covenant, and the estate lying in the hand of the great covenant-head, Christ Jesus; it views the promise as it is "yea and amen in Christ;" it views the covenant as confirmed by his death and blood, and says, with David, “This is all my salvation that he hath made with me," in my new covenant-head, "an everlasting covenant, well-ordered in all things, and sure."
2. Sense is ready to judge of the love of God by the aspect of providence, or his present carriage; and whenever he seems to frown or hide, it razes all to the foundation, crying, "The Lord hath forgotten to be gracious;" but faith reads the love of God in the face of Christ Jesus, in the acceptance that the Surety has met with, and in the declarations, offers, promises, of the word: "In his word will I hope," says faith; "Remember the word upon which thou hast caused thy servant to hope." Hence it follows,
3. Sense and sight is a variable and fluctuating thing; but faith is steady and fixed like Abraham, “who against hope believed in hope, and staggered not at the promise through unbelief." While the believer lives by sense, and enjoys the Lord in a sensible manner, he is ready then to say, "My mountain stands strong, I shall never be moved;" but anon the Lord hides his face, and the man is troubled: but faith keeps up a persuasion of his love, even when he is withdrawn, saying, Though I " walk in darkness, I will trust in the name of the Lord, and stay myself upon my God."
4. Sight and sense look only to things present; but faith, like a prophet, looks at things to come, things that are at a distance. Abraham, the father of the faithful, saw the day of Christ afar off: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." When under darkness of affliction, desertion, temptation, it will say, "Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness."
5. Sense and sight are superficial and overly in their views of things, and easily deceived with appearances: but faith is a poring and diving grace, it goes deep into things. Faith will perceive poison in a cup of gold, it will see lions, dens, and leopards in Lebanon, among the trees and woods of aromatic scent and therefore will turn away from them as dangerous, while sense is easily encouraged thereby and on the other hand it will see a paradise of communion with the Lord in a wilderness, where sense can perceive nothing but prickling briers and thorns, 2 Cor. iv. 17: "Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
6. They differ in their consort and order. Faith is the leader, and sense the follower; faith is the duty, and sense the privilege connected with it; Eph. i. 12, 13: " After that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." John xi. 40: "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?" Faith is the work, and sense is the encouragement. This is God's order, which the legal heart would always invert: we would be at the encouragement of faith, before we set about the duty of believing; like Thomas, John xx. 25: "Except I thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." But let us remember what Christ says to him, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
7. Sense is hasty and precipitant in its judgment; but faith is patient, and waits till it see the end. Sense draws rash and hasty conclusions when difficulties cast up: "I said in my haste, All men are liars: I said, I am cast out of thy sight."
But faith waits till the other side of the cloud cast up: "The Lord is a God of judgment," says faith; "and blessed are all they that wait for him. The vision is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry;" hence, "He that believeth, shall not make haste." The Old Testament saints waited about four thousand years for the coming of the promised seed of the woman; and when they died, they died with the promise in their arms, waiting for the accomplishment, believing that he would come, and would not tarry beyond the fulness of time: Heb. xi. 13: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them."
8. A life of sense is dangerous, but a life of faith is sure and safe. The danger of sense appears from the advantage that Satan took to ruin Adam and all his posterity. Had our first parents lived in the steady faith of God's promise and threatening in the covenant of works, they had never eaten of the forbidden tree; but they walked by sight and sense the fruit was beautiful to the eye, and pleasant to the taste; this made them the more easily to listen to the hisses of the old serpent, saying, If ye eat, "ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil;" and thus he prevailed. We see, that when Paul was filled with sensible manifestations, being wrapt up to the third heaven, he was in danger of being lifted up with pride. But now, I say, the life of faith is safe and sure; and the reason is, because it will neither believe angels nor men, if their say does not agree with what God says in his word. It views things as they are laid in the revelation, and forms a judgment and estimate of things according to God's verdict of them: "To the law and to the testimony," says faith: "if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Hence faith has the moon under its feet: "This is the victory whereby we overcome the world, even our faith." Faith, by going this way to work, makes the soul like mount Zion, which cannot be removed for ever. "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established," says the prophet to trembling Israel.
9. Sense has its only foundation and confidence within; it trades in the shallow waters of created grace, experimental attainments, marks of grace, and the like: but faith has its foundation without the man, in Christ, in God's covenant, in the great and precious promises. While the mariner stays in the shallow waters, he is in continual fear of rocks and sand-banks; but when he has launched out into the deep