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be particularized in a public discourse. And ought not the same rules of interpretation to be adopted, when declarations, such as these which we are now considering, are made in a general manner ? Certainly they ought; otherwise the Scriptures must perpetually appear to be in opposition to themselves. And when 'thus explained, they are not in the least repugnant to the proposition, that true faith is always the effect of regeneration.
There may be a vital spark, or a dawning ray, where nothing but darkness and death are discernible by us : and we should remember, to copy him, who “ will not quench the smoking
flax, nor break the bruised reed.”-For “the
path of the just is like the shining light, " which shineth more and more unto the per« fect day.” A ray of light breaks in upon the previous reign of entire darkness, and imperceptibly diminishes the gloom: but coming from the sun, it indicates his approach, and will continue to advance till it arrive at the full blaze of
“On you that fear my name, shall the “ Sun of righteousness arise, with healing in
" Then shall ye know, if ye “ follow on to know the Lord ; his going forth * is prepared as the morning." " will do the will of God, he shall know of the 66 doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I “ speak of myself.” “ I will bring the blind by
a way that they knew not; I will lead them “ in paths, which they have not known; I will “ make darkness light before them, and crooked " things straight." These and similar passages in Scripture naturally lead us to consider the work of God, in drawing the sinner unto himself, by Christ the living Way, in many instances at least, as very gradual: and they by no means can be nrade even to appear consistent
6 his wings:
with the opinion, that a man continues absolutely dead in sin, till after he has come to Christ, and has explicit knowledge of him, and faith in him ; or even, as some state it, a full assurance of an interest in his salvation.
The new-born infant instinctively craves the milk of the breast, though incapable of understanding the nature of its wants and desires : but various circumstances may retard its actual satisfaction in the wholesome nutriment provided for it.— Thụs the new-born babe; in the spiritual world, feels a strong desire after the sincere milk of the word, yet often scarcely knows what he wants or seeks for: but the salvation of Christ alone can satisfy these new desires which he experiences; and whatever may hinder his progress, he will still continue uneasy and enquiring, till brought to live explicitly by faith in the Son of God. Then he will seek no further, except to secure and enjoy the satisfying blessings he has discovered.
And now let the reader seriously and im partially consider these several arguments, and 'endeavour to estimate their collective force: after which, let us determine, whether it has not been completely proved, that, according to the word of God, saving faith is always the effect of regeneration ; and consequently that it is holy in its nature, as well as in its fruits.
Saving Faith always accompanied by other Things
essentially holy, ANOTHER most conclusive argument to prove the holy nature of faith, may be deduced from
the other holy exercises of the heart with which it is inseparably connected.
No man ever yet truly believed in Christ, without some measure of humiliation for sin : and where this is totally wanting, a professed believer can at most rank no higher than a stonyground hearer, who has no root in himself, in whatever manner slavish terrors have been succeeded by selfish comforts. But when a careless sinner, or a proud despiser of the gospel, is brought, with down-cast eyes, to smite on his breast, and from his inmost soul to cry, “ be merciful to me a sinner;" he certainly thus far manifests a right spirit.- In the parable here alluded to, the question is not, what the Pharisee proudly assumed concerning his own sanctity; or what the publican humbly confessed of his own sinfulness; but, whether the humblé confession of the one was not intrinsically better, than the proud boastings of the other? And whether the publican's self-abasing cry for mercy was not an exercise of true holiness? That it sprang from humility and contrition, and was not extorted by mere terror, our Lord himself testifies; “ I tell you, that this man went down “ to his house justified rather than the other : 6 for every one that humbleth himself shall be 66 exalted*” And this testimony ought to be decisive: for it evidently proves that genuine humility inseparably attends on justifying faith, even in its feeblest and most discouraged applications for pardoning mercy.
The Pharisee did not arrogate the honour of making himself to differ from other men; at least the words ascribed to him imply the contrary: and indeed the same is observable in the language of many who are notorious for spiri
Luke xviii. 14,
tual pride. But he presumptuously deemed himself eminent in holiness, when he was altogether unholy; and established in the full favour of God, from which he was entirely estranged. If a man say, God I thank thee • for giving me humility, repentance, and new
ness of heart;' and then rely on these supposed endowments as the meritorious ground of his justification; let him be. classed with the Pharisee: but surely we may know that God hath given us these holy dispositions, and that
grace we are what we are," and heartily thank him for his special love in thus making us to differ ; without in the least " trusting to " our own righteousness, and despising others." Or else the most eminent believers, both of the Old and New Testament, must be joined witlo us under this condemnation.- In whatever measure we have experienced “the sanctification of the “ Spirit unto obedience,” we shall not, if properly instructed, depend on it in the smallest degree for justification : and if this be the case of the most eminent saint on earth ; why should it be supposed, that the least conceivable spark of true holiness, even when not discerned, inust lead the new convert to a self-righteous confidence, and indispose him to seek the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ?
Saul of Tarsus, when a proud Pharisee, expressed the most contemptuous enmity against the holy Jesus, and “breathed out threatenings “ and slaughter” against his harmless disciples.
- But view this same person, prostrate on the ground, trembling with apprehensions of merited vengeance, supplicating undeserved mercy, and saying to the Saviour, “Lord, what wouldest a thou have me to do?”—Then observe him, when “ what things were guin to him, those he
counted loss for Christ;” and determine whether no degree of genuine humiliation was connected with his first exercises of faith in the Son of God.
But if we carefully examine the language of Scripture, we must be convinced, that humilily is a radical and most important part of holiness ; and especially that humiliation for sin is essential to the existence of holiness in the heart of a fallen creature. “ To this man will I look,
even to him that is poor, and of a contrite
spirit, and that trembleth at my word.” 66. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is " the kingdom of heaven.” « God resisteth the “ proud, and giveth his grace unto the hum« ble.” Nay, a great part of the holiness of redeemed sinners, even in heaven, seems to consist in a disposition to ascribe all their salvation $ to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to 6 the Lamb that was slain ; and in feeling, and acting consistently with, the recollection of their own deep guilt, and their inexpressible obligations to the special mercy and love of the Redeemer. Indeed if pride were the first sin of apostate spirits, humility must be most essential to the holiness even of angels.
The degree of genuine humility, connected with the sinner's first actings of faith in Christ, may be very small : but will any Christian say, that there is absolutely none at all? Or that pride is at that moment in full dominion? Can a sinner embrace the salvation of Christ in a cordial manner, without the least disposition to abase and condemn himself? Can he, when merely alarmed by the dread of a punishment, which he does not allow that he deserves, sincerely seek the deliverance from free unmerited mercy? Can he sincerely seek this mercy, in the most humiliating way imaginable, without the least degree of humiliation ? And if his