תמונות בעמוד

with the same certainty as if they were clearly perceptible by the bodily senses.

2. True faith may be easily distinguished from all its counterfeits; whether it be a mere historical assent to Scriptural truth, which does not enlighten the mind and controul the affections ; or a notional faith, which, whilst it fills the head with speculative opinions, leaves the soul under the fatal power of corrupt propensities ; or a barren, dead, and temporary faith, which, like "the seed sown on stony and thorny ground, bringeth forth no fruit unto perfection."

On the contrary, a genuine faith in Christ is accompanied with a knowledge of our interest in his salvation, implants a relish for Divine things in the soul, enables us to pursue them with vigour and de

light, and produces fruit abundantly, to the glory of Menu God.

That faith should thus “turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the justd,” is not surprising, when its high extraction is considered. It is not the produce of nature, but of grace, and “cometh down from the Father of Lights dd." This gives it all its energy, to sanctify the soul, and make it productive in the fruits of a holy and religious life.

It is true that a candid perusal of the Gospels, and s an attentive examination of the facts which they

record concerning Christ, may produce a conviction that he is the Messiah, the Saviour of the world; and yet a man may derive little more benefit from this admission, than if he remained an unbeliever in his Divine Mission. Thousands within the pale of the visible Church are convinced of the truth of our most holy religion, by the strength of the evidence which

: Luke viji. 12-16. Luke i. 17. 4 Eph. ii. 8.


is brought to support it; and so far all is right: but their belief does not issue in obedience to its precepts, which is the natural effect of a genuine and saring faith.

3. To produce in our ininds that belief which will induce us to delight in the Divine law as the rule of our conduct, is indeed a work which God himself must performn; since man is so weakened by the Fall, as to be unable, by his own resources, to exercise faith and calling upon God. Indeed, we find it expressly ascribed to him throughout the sacred records.

By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” “ Ye are risen with him (Christ) through the faith of the operation of God." “Wherefore, also, we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power"."

In order to set forth its excellence, it is styled, by an inspired penman, “the faith of God's elect*.?

It is conferred, like other benefits of the Gospel covenant, gratuitously upon all who feel their need of it, and are willing to accept it as the purchase of Christ's death. Conscious that “ by nature you are children of wrath“,” solicit this heavenly gift, “ without which it is impossible to please God; for he that cometh to him must believe in his existence, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

What gives so much importance to faith in the Christian scheme, is the dignity of the character towards whom it is directed, the special office which it discharges, and the blessed effects which it operates on the heart.

• James ii. 17--26. & Titus i. l.

de Col. ii. 12.

Eph. ii.3.

12 Thess. i. 11. i Heb. xi. 6.

Considered, however, abstractedly, there is no more merit in faith, than in any other grace of the Spirit;'except as it is appointed of God to be the instrument of uniting believers to Christ, from whose exhaustless fulness ii they receive whatever is necessary to complete their sanctification. Regarded as the boon of heaven, every thing praiseworthy in faith (though God is manifestly pleased with those in whom it is visible) virtually belongs to him, who is the donor of it: so that deliverance from the punishinent of sin, victory over the world, and the final possession of eternal life, are exclusively restricted to faith, as the channel through which they flow; in order, that it may be evident that salvation, both present and future," is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God who sheweth mercyk.”

4. Faith, in crediting the Divine records, makes Christ the great object of its exercise ; because “God hath set him forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood kk," and because all the promises” of pardon made to penitent believers, " are in him yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God'.” Consequently, we are directed "to behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world";" and to fix the eye of our souls steadfastly upon him as our leader, whom we should“ follow in the regeneration. In conformity with such commands, faith fixes its expectations on the Saviour, as a Divine Being, altogether lovely in himself, and endeared by the display of marvellous compassion, in submitting to a shameful death for the redemption of mankind. Hence the affection of a soul, which centres its hopes of salvaü John'i. 16. Col. ii. 9-12. * Rom. ix. 16. iv. 16 Rom. iii, 25.

12 Cor. i. 20. John i. 29.


[ocr errors]


tion in Christ, is ardent indeed, greatly surpassing the strongest expression of regard which we can pay to an earthly friend. Its “meditations on him are sweet;' and communion with him in ordinances is coveted, as the only source of permanent happiness".

The office which faith sustains enhances its worth.

5. It sets before the eyes of its possessor the awfully heinous character of sin, convicts him of manifold transgressions, and shews him the punishment to which he is justly exposed on account of them. It is, however, the especial province of saving faith to make such a disclosure to the mind. Unbelief renders men totally insensible, either of the aggravated nature, or of the just deserts of transgression. But when faith comes to scatter the thick darkness in which the mind is naturally enveloped, a man finds " that sin,” viewed by the light of the commandment, “is exceeding sinful.” The discovery fills his soul with alarm, and in anguish, he exclaims, “ O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death -h ?" Now, the heart, which before was callous, is softened into godly compunction for its trespasses; and it's looks on Christ who has been pierced, and mourns for him as one mourneth for his only son, and is in bitterness for him as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." Thus “repentance unto life" is the inseparable companion of a belief of the truth.

6. Faith is not less effectual for convincing the awakened sinner of the insufficiency of his own ý righteousness to justify him before God. Divestings him of all his fancied excellence, by a display of the great and palpable defects of his best services, it in

» Psalm lxiii. 1-7. cix. 34. » Rom. vii. 24, 25.
• Zech, xii. 10.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

clines him to renounce all his works as a ground of dependence, that he may confide in Christ alone for

salvation ;-a blessing, the grant of which is sus-' i pended on our self-renunciation.

7. Having thus shewn him the imminent peril in which he is placed by his offences, and that all hope is for ever cut off of meriting heaven by the deeds of a law which requires a perfect course of life, and seeing no other mode of deliverance but that which the death of Christ affords, faith makes the humbled sinner willing to be saved in “ this new and living way, which God hath consecrated for use." His understanding contemplates the glory and the ability of Christ as " a mighty Saviourq," the extent of his redeeming love, the infinite value and efficacy of his sacrifice, and the necessity of a personal interest therein, by an appropriation of its immense benefits 99.

And now, his former prejudices having vanished at the sight of the cross, he cordially welcomes Jesus in the merciful office which he sustains as a Priest, to present an offering before God for the atonement of his iniquities, to procure him acceptance, and, by his continued intercession, the liberal donation of all spiritual mercies; as a Prophet, to instruct him in the will of God; and as his King, to reign over and subdue him to the obedience of his Gospel. Discovering, by the aid of faith,such a plenitude of grace in Christ for the supply of his necessities, he desires to live upon his fulness, to rejoice in his love, and to ascribe his salvation, both in time and eternity, to the free mercy of God in Jesus Christ, his Lord. In this spirit, he closes with the Saviour, by entering into a solemn covenant with him ; whereby he stipuP Heb. x. 20. 4 Isa. Ixiii. 1-6. 99 John vi, 50-59.

? 경

« הקודםהמשך »