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does not most directly address such professors when he
says, Know, O vain man, that faith 66 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 intelligent creation through eternal ages.- But if another gospel be introduced, which merely provides for the encouragement of sinners at any rate; while the other ends, of infinite importance, are overlooked, or at least greatly kept out of sight: then the justice and holiness of God, and his strict and spiritual law, appear terrible rather than glorious and lovely; the odiousness, and desert of transgression are concealed or palliated; salvation from punishment is detached from the sanctification “ of the Spirit unto obedience :” and then it is no wonder that unconverted men often credit such a gospel, which is entirely congenial to their pride and carnal minds. Because they may be delighted with the false notions thus given them of the character of God; while they
continue to hate the infinitely just and holy God, whom the Scriptures reveal: as the Jews imagined they loved the God of Abraham, whose favourites they deemed themselves; though the Truth himself testified, “ Ye have both seen “ and hated both me and my Father.” And having once thus awfully quieted and pleased themselves with an unholy faith, a presumptuous confidence, selfish affections, and a carnalized gospel; it is alas, not probable they should ever be undeceived, till the light of cternity tremendously shew them their real character and situation.
The true gospel of Christ reveals “ a'just 66 God and a Saviour.”—The eternal Son of the Father became incarnate, to honour the righteous demands of the holy law by a divinely perfect' obedience, during the whole course of his suffering life; and to honour its curse by his unknown agonies in the garden and on the cross; that sinners, who most justly deserved, and who must otherwise inevitably have endured, the everlasting wrath of God, might through his merits, ransom, and mediation, be freely pardoned, completely justified, and gradually recovered to perfect holiness by the Spirit of God given unto them.—But an unhumbled, unholy heart cannot truly believe this gospel : and a faith which does not allow the excellency. of the law, the desert of sin, and the justice of God in the awful sentence denounced against 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 saving faith is a holy exercise of the soul.
Saving Faith the principle of all other holy dis
positions, affections, and behaviour. The holy nature of true faith may likewise be inferred, with absolute certainty, from the effects produced by it: for “a corrupt tree can“ not bring forth good fruit;and “ eyery “ tree is known by its fruit.”-Faith, when genuine, excites all holy affections, 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 moved 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 re“ fuge to lay hold on the hope set before them.” Even confirined disciples are repeatedly warned, “ not to fear them that kill the body, and after 66 that have no more that they can do; but to “ fear Him who is able to destroy both body “6 and soul in hell*." 6 Blessed is he that fear“ eth always.” “Be not high minded, but “ fear.” • Let us therefore fear, lest a pro« mise being left us of entering into his rest
of you should seem to come short of it." “ Let us have grace to serve God, with reve
rence and godly fear ; for our God is a cons “ suming fire." In proportion to the degree, in which we understand and believe these words, we shall be moved with fear, to use proper means, and flee to a distance from the danger: for “ a prudent man foreseeth the evil,
and hideth himself, but the simple pass on “ and are punished.” And this fear implies reverence to 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 love into vigorous exercises; and by its powerful influence constraining the believer to all devoted and selfdenying 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 love 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 uncir" cumcision, but faith which worketh by love*." Now “ love is the fulfilling of the law," and likewise the principal fruit of the Spirit; God is Love, and heaven is love: and can faith not at all holy excite in us the most holy and spiritual of all exercises of the rational soul ?- ) say excite, 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.
* Matt. x. 28. Luke xii. 4, 5.
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 communication 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
* Gal. v. 6, 13, 14.