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that they believe in God, as a promising God, at all.
The testimony of God which faith respects, comprising the whole revelation of his will, centers, particularly, in the free grant which he : has made of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to sinners of the human race; assuring them, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life ; that he will be a Father unto them, and they shall be his sons and his daughters; that he will dwell in them, and walk in them, and be their God, blessing them, in their precious Redeemer, with all spiritual and heavenly blessings. Now that faith after which we are inquiring, consists precisely in “ receiving “ and resting upon Christ Jesus for salvation, “ as he is offered to us in the gospel,” that is, in the testimony of his Father.
This faith is not the creature of human power. It is a contradiction to suppose that men can argue themselves, or be argued by others, into a reliance upon the testimony of God. Because this implies a spiritual perception of his eternal veracity: whereas the reason of man is corrupted by sin, and the natural tendency of corrupted reason is to change the truth of God into a lie. Nothing can rise above its own level, nor pass the limits of its being. It were more rational to expect that men should
be born of beasts, or angels of men, than that a principle of life and purity should be engendered by death in a mass of corruption : And carnal men are dead in trespasses and sins. Cast it, therefore, into the fairest mould; polish, and adorn it with your most exquisite skill, that which is born of the flesh will still be flesh; weak, corrupt, abominable: enmity against the law of God, and, if possible, more rank eninity against the gospel of Jesus Christ. From this source it is vain to look for faith in his blood. We must seek it higher. j
It is of divine original. A gift which“ cometh down from the Father of lights: By grace, « are ye saved, through faith, and that not of “ yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
It is of grace-For it is one of those covenant-mercies which were purchased by the Saviour's merit, and are freely bestowed for his sake. “ It is given us, on the behalf of Christ, “ to believe on his name.”
Of grace_Because it is a fruit of the gracious Spirit. As Jehovah the Sanctifier, he creates and preserves it in the soul. For this reason he is called the Spirit of faith, which is, therefore, of the operation of God.
From this faith, there result two glorious effects. Let us consider them, in their turn, as they are stated in the text.
I. It purifies the heart. · Human depravity is a first principle in the oracles of God. From within, out of the heart proceed those evil thoughts, and evil words, and evil deeds, which defile, disgrace, and destroy the man. And he who refuses to admit the severe application of this doctrine to himself, has not yet arrived at the point from which he must set out in a course of real and consistent piety. He may, indeed, “ flatter himself in his own "eyes until his iniquity be found to be hateful, “ but who shall ascend into the hill of God? “ or who shall stand in his holy place ?” He, and he only, who has clean hands, and a pure heart. Now, as it is the grace of faith by which a sinner obtains that purity which qualifies him for the fellowship and kingdom of God, we are to enquire, in what the purity of the heart consists? And what is the influence of faith in producing it?
The heart is a term by which the Scriptures frequently express the faculties and affections of man. As the pollutions of sin have pervaded them all, they all need the purification of grace. ; At the head of the perverted tribe stands a guilty conscience: Stern, gloomy, suspicious, it cannot abide the presence of a righteous God; and yet lashes the offender with a whip of scorpions. To render the conscience pure, pardon
must intervene and shelter it from that curse which rouses both its 'resentments and its terrors. This is effected by the blood of the covenant, which,“ speaking better things than the blood “ of Abel, sprinkles the heart from an evil con" science.”
The will is purified, when it is delivered from its rebellion against the authority of God, and cordially submits to his good pleasure. This, too, is from above: For his people are made willing in the day of his power.
The understanding is purified, when its errors are corrected, and the mists of delusion dissipated. When its estimate of sin and holiness; of things carnal, and things spiritual; of time and of eternity, corresponds with the sentence of the divine word. This also is from above. “ The eyes of our understanding are enlight“ ened, that we may know what is the hope of “ his calling, and what is the riches of the glory " of his inheritance in the saints; and what is “ the exceeding greatness of his power to us“ ward who believe.”
In fine, the affections are purified when they are diverted from objects trifling and base, to objects great and dignified. When they cease to be at the command of every hellish suggestion, and every vagrant lust—When they add to the crucifixion of those profligate appetites in the gratification of which the ungodly man places his honour, his profit, and his paradise, their delight in a reconciled God as the infinite good-When they aspire to things above, where Jesus Christ sitteth at God's right hand; breathe after his communion ; and are disciplined and chastened as becometh the affections of a breast which the Holy Ghost condescends to make his temple. Such affections are surely from heavenly inspiration : for thus saith God, “ I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you " shall be clean; from all your filthiness and “ from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new “ heart also will I give you, and a new spirit “ will I put within you; I will take away the "stony heart out of your flesh, and I will “ give you an heart of flesh.” • While the purification of the heart, thus explained from the Scriptures, is the work of the divine Spirit, it is accomplished by the instrumentality of faith. For he purifies the heart by faith. Under his blessed direction, the grace of faith possesses a double influence.
1. As a principle of moral suasion*, it pre
· * By moral suasion is here meant, not that kind of reasoning which one graceless man may address to the understanding of another ; but those persuasives to holiness which the Spirit of God in his word addresses to his grace in the heart. These faith applies and improves.