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« fied by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the “ law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be juf" tified. But if while we seek to be justified by Chrift, " we ourselves also are found finners, is therefore Chrift «c the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again " the things which I destroyed, I make myself a tranfgref. « for. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I " might live unto God. I am crucified with Chrift: “ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: " and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the « faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave him. “ self for me.” . . .
I proceed now, in the second place, to consider the actings of faith, or what is implied in believing thefe truths to the saving of the foul. And I cannot help observing to you, that it is but in compliance with common custom, or at least with the present state of things, that I fay much upon this part of the subject. I am persuaded it is of much more consequence, and much more proper, to direct you to the object of faith in God's revealed will, to explain it in all its extent, and to press it with all the evidence that attends it, than to examine curiously into, and distinguish nicely upon the nature of faith, as it is an act of the human mind. I do not find, that the scripture says much upon the act of believing; but it is in a manner wholly employed in telling us what we ought to be. lieve, both with regard to our apoftafy and recovery. We do indeed read in fcripture of believing with all the heart. We read also of a temporary faith in the stony-ground hearers; and of the strength and weakness of faith. But all this seems, at least chiefly, to relate to the firmness or uncertainty of our persuasion of, or assent to the truths which are addressed to us in the name of God. The fimplest view of faith seems to be receiving “ the record << which God hath given us of his Son.” Agreeably to this, the reverse of faith in Scripture is doubting: Matth. xiv. 31, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou “ doubt ?” Matth. xxi. 21. Jesus anfwered and said « unto them, Verily I fay unto you, If ye have faith and
doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to
sif the fig tree, but also, if ye shall say unto this mountain, * Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea ; it shall
be done.” 11. But, my brethren, since there have been questions upon this subject, and since it is certain from experience that there is a cleceitfulness in the human heart, and a supposed faith, which yet is vain and fruitless, I shall observe, that the actings of faith may be resolved into the three following particulars, or that the faith of God's elect will discover itself by the three following effects.
1. A firm assent of the understanding to what is re. vealed of Christ in scripture; particularly as summed up in the preceding part of this discourse : That you believe the lost and helpless state of man by nature and practice : That Christ is able to fave to the uttermost ; and that he hath made effectual provision, both for expiating your guilt and purifying your hearts. Perhaps you will think this is easy, and be ready to say, that you have from your youth given, and that you do at this moment give, entire credit to the whole. But, my brethren, there is more here than you are aware of : there is a great difference between a common and traditionary belief, which was never tried, and that inward and personal conviction which dwells in the heart, and therefore will govern the life. If any man believe, that all the posterity of Adam are in a state of guilt and misery, one would think it unavoidable that he must perceive his own danger as a part of the whole; and yet I am persuaded, it is usually a personal conviction of guilt and danger by the law upon the conscience that first opens the sinners eyes upon the general truth ; and then his own interest makes it bulk in his apprehension, and raises in him an earnest solicitude, both to examine into the cause of the disease, and to ask after the method of cure.
There is another way of considering the assent of the understanding to divine truth. The testimony of faith is opposed to the testimony of sense. Faith tells us, that our only happiness is in the favor of God, and that this can only be obtained through Chrift; that eternity is coming on; and that there is no time to be lost. Sense, on the other hand, tells us, that the world is good, that its delights
are pleasant and that our comfort is here ; not forgetting to represent the service of God as a burden and drudgery, In the mean time, the corrupt principle within, assents to the delusion, and assists in blinding the mind; adding, that whatever may be in religion, the danger may be warded off by a late repentance. It is not enough then to give a cold and general assent to the truths of religion when they are not contradicted, but to believe the testimony of faith, in opposition to the suggestions of sense; or, in other words, to walk by faith, and not by sight. That this may be brought to the test, I observe,
2. That faith implies the consent and approbation of the heart to every truth with regard to Christ's person and character, and falvation through his blood. Toevery believer, the plan of redemption by the Mediator of the new covenant, appears not only true, but wise, reasonable, gra, cious, and necessary. This, my brethren, particularly distinguishes true faith, not only from unbelief and security, but from an empty and barren profesion, The careless despise the truth, the believer adores it; the half Christian is ashamed of it, the believer glories in it: “ God forbid,"? says the apostle, Gal. vi. 14. “ that I should glory fave in " the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” i Pet, ïi. 7. “Uno " you therefore which believe, he his precious: but unto " them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders “ disallowedł, the fame is made the head of the corner.”. . I believe indeed it is usually a deep and heartfelt conviction of danger, which first persuades the finner of the truth, and makes the trembling penitent a willing be- liever. But because there may be sometimes a belief of that truth, which we do not esteem, nay, even a jealousy and suspicion of the truth of what we inwardly hate, I have added, that faith implies the consent and approbation of - the heart. The whole doctrine of redemption appears to
the believer most admirably calculated to promote the glo. ry of God, and secure the salvation of finners. Even what bears hardest upon man, taking away the foundation of self-righteousness and self-dependence, appears to him perfectly reasonable: he not only submits to it, but embraces and closes with it. He sees the law to be holy; he cona
fesses the threatening to be just; and he is not only content, but thankful; that his present deliverance and future fecurity depend, not on himself, but on the Redeemer. He is willing to be only and eternally indebted to the unmerited mercy and sovereign grace of God in Christ Jefuis.
Thus you see the doctrine of salvation is represented in fcripture under the form of a blessing to be received, as well as a truth to be believed : Ili lv. 1, 2, 3. “Ho, every " one that thirsteth, come yetothe waters, and he that hath % no money; come ye, buy and eat, yea, come. buy wine " and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore “ do ye spend money for that which is not bread ? and * your labor for that which fatisfieth not? hearken dili. 66 gently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let “ your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and $ come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live, and I “ will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the “ sure mercies of David.” Matth. xi. 28. “Come unto “ me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give "you rest." And indeed the infpired writers always speak of it in such terms as shew themselves not only satisfied of the truth, but deeply penetrated with a sense of the greatness of the mercy ; Eph. iii. 17, 18, 19. “ That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted " and grounded in love, may be able, to comprehend with “ all faints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and “ height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth “ knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness “ of God.”
. 3. In the laft place, faith implies such a personal ap· plication of the truths of the gospel as produceth repose of conscience, dependence and reliance on the Saviour. This, my brethren, is the point first in view, and the terimination of the whole; and I cannot help thinking, that it is fo eflential to faith, that faith and trust are often put reciprocally for one another in the New Testament; as in Eph. i. 12, 13. “That we should be to the praise " of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye “ also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gos
“ pel of your falvation : in whom also after that ye believ.. "ed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." **
I do not mean to say, that divine faith is a belief that . Christ died for me in particular. I know the strong objections which lie against that form of expression. The object of faith is, that Chrift died for loft finners of the race Adam. But as it can hardly be supposed, that any give : their assent to this truth till they are convinced that they themselves are finners, so, if they believe that there is no falvation in any other, and that he is able to save to the uttermost, it seems to follow of neceflity, that they will rest and rely “ upon him alone for salvation as he is offered “in the gospel.” This is certainly the view given us of the matter in the holy scripture: Rom. v. 1. “There“fore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, “ through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Heb. vi. 18. “ That “by two immụtable things, in which it was impossible for “ God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have “fed for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." Faith and despair are inconsistent. Faith and hope are infeparable. The glory of the Redeemer's person, the perfection of his atonement, and his ability to save, are all fet before us in the gospel; and if we cannot rely upon him, if we cannot trust our salvation in his hands, it certainly ari. fes from some doubt or disapprobation of these interesting truths. If you doubt of the truth, it is no wonder that you distrust the promise; but if you are truly and inwardly fatisfied of Christ's power and mercy, you will close with him, as your Saviour, and say unto him, in the words of Thomas, when his doubts were removed, “ My Lord, * and my God.” Thus I have shortly given you a view of the actings of faith : which may all be reduced to what I have endeavored to illustrate; the assent of the understanding, the approbation of the heart, and these jointly producing repole of conscience and peace with God..
II. I proceed now, in the last place, to make some practical improvement of what hath been said on this important subject. And, in the