sents to the mind considerations the most forcible and tender for breaking the power of sin, and promoting the reign of holiness. The presence, the majesty, the holiness of God--the sanctity of his law-his everlasting love in the Lord Jesus—the affecting expression of that love in setting him forth to be a propitiation for sin--The wonders of his pardoning mercy The grace of Christ Jesus himself in becoming sin for them, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him-The condescension of the Holy Ghost, who deignsto dwell in them as their Sanctifier-The genius of their vocation—The connection of holy obedience with their own peace, their brethren's comfort, and their Master's glory—These, and similar motives which arise from the exercise of precious faith, operate mightily in causing believers to walk humbly with their God. The love of Christ constraineth us, even as a rational inducement, to live henceforth not unto ourselves, but unto him that died forusand rose again. And while a graceless man is deterred from the commission of crime, not by a regard to God's authority, or by gratitude for his loving-kindness, but by calculations of prudence, or fear of penalty, a Christian, acting like himself, repels temptation with a more generous and filial remonstrance, How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God!

But, brethren, I should wrong the Redeemer's truth, and enfeeble the consolations of his people, were I to confine the efficacy of faith in purifying the heart to the influence of motive. I have not mentioned its chief prerogative; for,

2. Faith is that invaluable grace by which we have both union and communion with our Lord Jesus Christ. In the moment of believing, I become, though naturally an accursed branch, a tree of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah that he may be glorified: I am no longer a root in a dry ground, but am planted by the rivers of water, even the water of life, which proceedeth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.I am engrafted into the true vine, and bring forth fruit in participating of its sap and fatness.--I am made a member of the body of Christ, of his flesh and of his bones; so that the spirit which animates his body pervades every fibre of my frame as one of its living members. His vital influence warms my . heart. Because he lives, I live: Because he is holy, I am holy: Because he hath died unto . sin, I reckon myself dead unto sin. This is the fruit of union.

Communion with him is, properly speaking, a common interest with himn in his covenant-perfection, The benefits of this communion flow

into the soul in the exercise of faith. Whatever Jesus has done for his people, (and their sanctification is the best part of his work,) he conveys to them in the promise of the gospel, and that promise is enjoyed in believing. It is by faith that I live upon the Great God my Saviour, and make use of him as Jehovah my strength. By faith I am privileged to go with boldness into the holiest of all, and be it revetently spoken, to press my Father in heaven with reasons as strong why he should sanctify me, as he can address to me why I should endeavour to sanctify myself. Lord, am I not thine? the called of thy grace? redeemed by the blood of thy dear Son? Hast thou nòt promised ? Hast thou not sworn? Hast thou not pledged thy being, that none who come to thee in his name shall be rejected? Is it not for thy praise that my heart be purified, and I made meet for walking in the light of thy countenance among the nations of the saved? Wilt thou leave me to conflict alone unaided, unfriended, with my furious corruptions, and my implacable foes? Wilt thou, though intreated for thy servant David's sake, refuse to work in me all the good pleasure of thy goodness, and the work of faith with power? I cannot, will not let thee go except thou bless me. Such faith is strong; it is omnipotent; it lays hold on the very attributes

hy en Ylelf. , why

Hace' dear

of the Godhead, and brings prompt and effectual succour into the labouring spirit. This is the reason why it purifies the heart? I know, that to such as have never been brought under the bond of God's covenant, I am speaking unintelligible things. Blessed be his name, that, continuing carnal, ye cannot understand them. If ye could, our hope would be no better than your own. But I speak to some whose burning souls say Amen to the doctrine, and rejoice in the consolation; who, in the struggle with corruption and temptation, have cried unto God with their voice, even unto God with their voice, and he heard their cry; . and bowed his heavens and came down; gave them deliverance and victory; and shed abroad in their bosoms the serenity of his grace.—These are precious demonstrations of his purifying their hearts by faith.

It is obvious, that the fruits of faith, which have been now enumerated, cannot be exposed to the eye of the worldling. Deposited in the hidden man of the heart, they are privileges and joys with which no stranger intermeddles. Shall we thence conclude, that the faith from which they spring is unsusceptible of external proof, and never extends its benign influence beyond the happy individual who possesses it? By no means. This would be an

error too gross for any but the theoretical religionist. The text ascribes it to a social effect : For,

II. It doth not more certainly purify the heart, than it worketh by love.

Love is the master-principle of all good society. It is the holy bond which connects man with man, and angel with angel, and angels with men, and all with God. It is itself an emanation from his own purity. For God is love: and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Consequently, the new man, whom regenerating grace creates in elected sinners, and whose activities are maintained by faith, must be governed by love. Its first and most natural exercise is toward that God who hath loved them with an everlasting love, and therefore with loving-kindness hath drawn them. It is the apprehension by faith of Jehovah's love to them in Christ, anticipating them with. mercy, forgiving them all trespasses, loading them with covenant-favour, which softens their obduracy, melts thein into tenderness, and excites the gracious re-action of love toward their reconciled Father. We love him, says an apostle who had drunk deeply into the spirit of his Master, we love him, because he first loved us. .

As an enemy to God is, by the very nature of his temper, an enemy to himself and to all

« VorigeDoorgaan »