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SERMON X:XXV.The Law established through Faith.
SERMON XLVI.— The Wilderness State.
Sermon XLIX.- The Cure of Evil-Speaking.
go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone : if he shall
Sermon L.- The Use of Money
my last end be like his . . . . . . , 667
SALVATION BY FAITH:
ST. MARY'S, OXFORD, BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY,
ON JUNE 18, 1738.
“ By grace are ye saved, through faith." Eph. ii. 8. . 1. All the blessings which God hath bestowed upon man, are of his mere grace, bounty, or favour; his free, undeserved favour; favour altogether undeserved ; man having no claim to the least of his mercies. It was free grace that “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul,” and stamped on that soul the image of God, and "put all things under his feet.” The same free grace continues to us, at this day, life and breath, and all things. For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which can deserve the least thing at God's hand. “All our works, thou, O God! hast wrought in us.” These, therefore, are so many more instances of free mercy: and, whatever righteousness may be found in man, this is also the gift of God.
2. Wherewithal then shall a sinful man atone for any the least of his sins ? With his own works ? No. Were they ever so many or holy, they are not his own, but God's. But indeed they are all unholy and sinful themselves, so that every one of them needs a fresh atonement. Only corrupt fruit grows on a corrupt tree. And his heart is altogether corrupt and abominable; being “come short of the glory of God,” the glorious righteousness at first impressed on his soul, after the image of his great Creator. Therefore having nothing, neither righteousness nor works to plead, his mouth is utterly stopped before God.
Vol. I. No. 1.
3. If then sinful men fiud favour with God, it is “grace upon grace!” If God vouchsafe still to pour fresh blessings upon us, yea, the greatest of all blessings, salvatiou ; what can we say to these things, but, “ Thanks be wto God for his unspeakable Gift!” And thus it is. Herein “God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died” to save us. “By grace, ther, are ye saved, through faith.” Grace is the source, faith the coudition, of salvation.
Now, that we fall not short of the grace of God, it concerns us carefully to inquire,
1. What Faith it is through which we are saved ?
Noir God requireth of a Heathen to believe, “That Godis; that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him;” and that he is to be sought by glorifying him as God, by giving him thanks for all things, and by a careful practice of moral virtue, of justice, mercy, and truth toward their fellow-creatures. A Greck or Roman, therefore, yea, a Seythian or Judian, was without excuse if he did not believe thus much: The Being and Attributes of God, a Future State of Reward and Punishment, and the Obligatory Nature of Moral Virtue. For this is barely the faith of a heathen.
2. Nor, secondly, Is it the faith of a Devil, though he goes much farther than that of a heather. For the Devil believes, not only that there is a vise and powerful God, gracious to reward, and just to punish; but also that Jesus is the son of God, the Christ, the Saviour of the world. So ire find bim declaring, in express terms, (Luke iv.31, “I know Thec, who thou art; the Holy One of God.” Nor can we doubt but that unhappy spirit believes all those words which came out of the mouth of the Holy One; yea, and whatsoever else was written by those holy men of old, of two of whom he was compelled to give that glorious testimony, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who shew unto you the way of salvation.” Thus much, then, the great Enemy of God and man believes, and trembles in believing, that God was made manifest in the flesh; that he will “tread all enemies under his fect ;' and that “all Scripture was given by inspiration of God.” Thus far goeth the faith of a Devil.
3. Thirdly, The faith through which we are saved, in that sense of the word which will hereafter be explained, is not barely that which the Apostles themselves had while Christ was yet upon earth; though they so believed on him as to “leave all and follow him;" although they had then power to work miracles, to “heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease;" yea, they had then “ power and authority over all Devils; ” and, which is beyond all this, were sent by their Master to “ preach the Kingdom of God.”.
4. What faith is it then through which we are saved ? It may be answered, first, in general, it is a faith in Christ; Christ, and God through Christ, are the proper objects of it. Herein, therefore, it is sufficiently, absolutely distinguished from the faith, either of ancient or modern heathens. And from the faith of a Devil, it is fully distinguished by this, it is not barely a speculative, rational thing, a cold, lifeless assent, a train of ideas in the head; but also a disposition of the heart. For thus saith the Scripture, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." And, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe with thy heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
5. And herein does it differ from that faith which the Apostles themselves had while our Lord was on earth, that it acknowledges the necessity and merit of his death, and the power of his resurrection. It acknowledges his death, as the only sufficient means of redeeming man from death eternal, and his resurrection as the restoration of us all to life and immortality ; inasmuch as he “ was delivered for our sins, and rose again for our justification.” Christian Faith is then, not only an assent to the whole Gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the Blood of Christ; a trust in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection; a recumbency upon him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us. It is a sure confidence which a man hath in God, that through the merits of Christ, his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God; and, in consequence hereof, à closing with him, and cleaving to him, as our “Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption," or, in one word, our Salvation.
II. What Salvation it is, which is through this faith, is the second thing to be considered.
I. And first, whatsoever else it imply, it is a present salvation. It is something attainable, yea, actually attained on