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mony, is nothing more than a speculative faith, which the devils, as well as men, may possess. But in the christian faith, much more is implied, than a simple concession and a cold assent to the divine testimonies. Sinners may believe, speculatively, in all the testimonies of God, being rationally convinced of their truth. They may believe, and even contend for the truth, respecting the character and government of the Most High; and respecting the perfections of that law, by which they stand condemned to utter and eternal destruction. They may indeed believe in all the doctrines, precepts and institutions of the gospel, with a heart bitterly opposed to all the articles of their speculative faith. This faith, however clear and strong it may be, is far from being the christian faith ; for the christian faith, is a faith which works by love.” Holy love is the source and fountain, from whence proceed all the christian virtues, and all christian conduct. Repentance, and humility of heart, as well as the christian faith, work by love. Hope and confidence in Christ work by love. When the heart is renewed, by regenerating grace, every christian exercise flows spontaneously from it, as streams from a copious fountain. Repentance takes the lead, and faith, hope and joy in God,'follow in close succession. All the fruits of the Spirit are, by the Apostle, resolved into one head or fountain. « The fruit of the Spirit is Love." Thence follow the whole concatenation of virtues, “joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Among the rest we find, that faith holds a conspicuous rank : " Faith which works by love."
From these general remarks on the christian faith, we may now proceed to a more strict definition. In the holy scriptures, we find many things recorded, which serve to explain this doctrine. The most correct definition, Heb. xi. is in these words; “ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The objects of evangelical faith are always invisible, during the present life. They are things, concerning which we can have no 'knowledge, except so far as we are informed by divine revelation. But, by faith in
God's testimonies, we realize unseen objects almost as clearly as we do the objects of sight. Especially is this the case, since the objects proposed are such as ineet the wishes and desires of our hearts. Things hoped for are easily believed ; and things both hoped for and believed, are in a high degree realized. Things which we neither kope for, desire, nor expect; scarcely have an existence in our minds. They are void of any reality, in our daily meditations. But how strongly, and interestedly do we anticipate the darling objects of our belief, and our hope !
Not only is faith the substance of things hoped for; but it is the evidence of thing's not seen. So cordially does it embrace the great system of divine truth, and the things relating to Christ's kingdom, that a little evidence is sufficient for their confirmation. If a man greatly delights in the doctrines, laws and testimonies contained in the holy scriptures, he feels .no want of evidence for their support. In the exercise of true faith, the law of the Lord appears to be perfect; and the plan of infinite wisdom and grace, by which the law is vindicated, and sinners saved, appears to be most glorious. The true believer, feels no need of any greater evidence than he has already, of the truth of the christian system. He embraces it readily, because his heart is in it
. Thus it appears, that, “ With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness.
Of the things which have been stated, this is a summary: That the true christian faith is a cordial belief and approbation of the whole system of revealed truth, as it is recorded and testified in the holy scriptures : And especially, a most cordial belief and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the plan of redemption, by his atoning blonde For, of all the mysteries revealed in the bible, this is the greatest, and the most glorious. “ Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest 3 in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the gentiles, believed on in the world, received, up into glory." Every object or article of the christian faith is a revealed mystery ;
ally the ence
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and to the believer, is glorious! We read of the
and follow me.” Those who are truly humble and self-condemned, who feel justly deserving of eternal misery, notwithstanding all that they can do or suffer in this life; are pleased with the plan of salvation by the cross of Christ. For this corresponds exactly with the views which they entertain of God and of themselves. They find, that the law of God, in which they now delight, forbids the exercise of mercy, until it is vindicated and honored, by an infinite sacrifice for sin. They are satisfied and pleased, that God should glorify his justice, as well as his mercy; be the consequences what they may, as respects themselves,
ud the his the ther od
and their fellow men. Accordingly, they see all the divine attributes displayed by Jesus Christ. He appears, as he really is, the chief among ten thousand, yea, altogether lovely.
1. If faith springs from love; and love is the fulfilling of the law; it follows, that the natural and genuine effect of faith, is holy obedience to the commands of God. Nothing gives the divine law such a predominating influence upon the heart and life, as the Christian faith. Abraham was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and who, of all the human race, ever yielded such obedience to God? Who, but the Father of all them that believe, was ever found ady and willing, at the divine command, to offer a darling son, and a child of promise, as a burnt sacrifice ? 6. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” Every true believer is the friend of God; and of course, obedient to his law. In short, nothing but faith gives security for a holy and obedient life." Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid, yea, we establish the law.” Do we, by the doctrine of faith in Christ, render obedience to the law of God unnecessary to salvation ? In what then does the Christian religion consist? And how does Jesus Christ save his people from their sins ? What, but a holy obedience to God constitutes a moral difference between believers and infidels ? Concerning those who profess that they know God, but in works deny him, it is said, that they are
abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.”
2. It is evident from the discussion of this subject, that evangelical repentance is implied in the Christian faith. In the order of nature, if not of time, repentance must be antecedent to faith in Christ. For no one can possibly be reconciled to Christ, and to the doctrine of salvation by his atoning blood, without real humility of heart, and
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godly sorrow for sin. For, by the vicarious sufferings,
3. By the doctrine of the Christian faith we learn, that
66 Christ hath redeemed us, not from the duty of obedience; but “ from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Obedience, in this case, is necessary to witness our faith in Christ, and our reconciliation of heart to God; but not to merit the forgiveness of our sins. The gospel, though it requires obedience to Christ, is not of the nature of a law, which requires us to obey and live. The covenant of grace is widely distinct from the covenant of works, which makes