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from regeneration, coexists in the heart with all other gracious dispositions: and evidencing to the soul one part of divine truth after another, as circumstances require and occasions are given, it excites them all by turns into more vigorous and sensible exercise. It is, however, an unedifying curious speculation to dispute which of them in order of time has the prioritỳ: “ seeing the Spirit of “ life in Christ Jesus,” quickening the sinner who had been dead in sin, is at once the Author and Source of thein all. The varied experiences of different persons, with the numberless undiscoverable, and generally unnoticed, circumstances, which cause some first to attend to one, and some to another, of the feelings of their own ininds, will certainly lead them to different and even contrary determinations, according to the schemes of doctrine which they severally adopt.
It is very commonly stated, thạt · faith purifies the heart:" but the language of Scripture is more accurate : --namely, that “God purifieth the heart by faith'." Having enabled the sinner, by his new-creating grace, cordially to believe the gospel; by the varied actings of that faith he excites every holy affection; and as these prevail and gather strength, all unholy desires and propensities are dethroned, hated, mortified, and gradually abolished. In entire agreement with this, yet taking another view of the subject, the apostle Peter says, “ See“ing ye have purified your souls, in obeying the truth, through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren;
love one another with a pure heart fervently 2.". They were active in this purifying of their souls; but it was effected by obeying the truth; and this was done by the grace of the holy Spirit. For “ The fruit of the Spirit is love.” No man, who scripturally holds the doctrine of regeneration, will ascribe the “ purifying of the heart” to faith, as to its efficient “ cause;" but faith is the spiritual organ of sight and perception, through which invisible things are so shewn to the soul by the Holy Spirit, as to effect, through his
continual agency, a gradual renovation. Faith (being itself the gift of God and the operation of the Spirit,) applies for and receives those heavenly influences, by which the seeds of universal holiness, sown in
regeneration, spring forth and grow to maturity : according to the declaration of St. Paul; “ We all, with open face,
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even
as by the Spirit of the Lord;" and thus we are gradually purified from the remainder of our proud, carnal, and selfish passions and propensities. Similar to this is the language of St. John,
66 This is “ the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and “ his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever “ is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the “ victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. “ Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that be“ lieveth that Jesus is the Son of God ?" The apostle åscribes these effects, of “ loving God, keeping his com“ mandments, and overcoming the world," to the faith of those who are born of God; and he evidently speaks of this
faith as essentially belonging to that which is born of God. Such a faith, exciting and working by holy love, gives the soul a decided victory over the love of worldly objects, the fear of men, a false shame and regard to character, and every carnal and selfish principle: and it thus renders obedience not only practicable, but delightful. Thus St. Paul exclains, “ God forbid that I " should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ;
by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the * world."
He also shews us that all the self-denying, courageous, and zealous obedience of the Old Testament saints sprang from faith, as its immediate cause. “ By faith Enoch *6 walked with God.” “ By faith Abraham obeyed ;-and + offered Isaac.” By faith Moses refused to be called " the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suf* fer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season ; esteeming the reproach " of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: “ for he had respect unto the recompence of reward. ** By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of " the king; for he endured, as seeing him who is invisi“ ble." Let any sober and pious mind determine whether the judgment, choice, and purpose of faith, in these cases, were not spiritual and holy.--In many instances, the particular exercise of faith, to which the obedience is ascribed, was entirely distinct from reliance on Christ for salvation: but even here faith had the same general nature; it cordially received the testimony of God, and in his prescribed way expected the performance of his promises, from his divine mercy, power, and faithfulness; and had reference to the predicted Messiah, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. The same faith, which interested these ancient servants of God in Christ for justification, influenced them to render the promptest obedience in the most difficult circumstances : and it is observable, that the same actions, which the apostle ascribes to faith as their principle, are elsewhere spoken of as the result and evidence of other holy dispositions. “ By faith Abraham, when he was tried, of* fered up Isaac.” “ By this I know that thou fearest
1 Gal. vi. 14.
God, seeing thon hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me 1."
The words of the Lord Jesus to the apostle of the gentiles, shews the holy nature, as well as the sanctifying efficacy, of true faith.
“ I send thee to them, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, “.and from the power of satan unto God; that they may "receive forgireness of sins, and inheritance among them " that are sanctified by faith that is in me.” This com‘ mission the apostle executed, by" shewing that men “ should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet “ for repentance 2:” and certainly it implies, that sinners are illuminated, and converted unto God, in order to their forgiveness, and not in consequence of it. And
1 Heb. xi. 17. Gen. xxii, 12.
2 Acts xxvi. 17-20.
as sanctification is here ascribed to the efficacy of faith in Christ, so our Lord elsewhere says, Sanctify them
by thy truth; thy word is truth'." Holy truth alone can be the seed of holiness in the soul: “ the good seed " is the word of the kingdom ;" but tares produce tares : and an honest and good heart is the only ground, in which that seed takes root, springs up, and brings forth fruit; or a holy faith alone can so receive the holy truth, as to use it in progressive sanctification. Dropping the metaphor, Christ had before said to the eleven, “ Now ye are
clean, through the word which I have spoken unto
you 2:” Thus our Lord, while Judas was present, said to the apostles, “ Ye are clean but not all :" yet after the traitor was gone, he said to the eleven “ Now
ye are clean through the word I have spoken to you." - It is however evident, not only that Judas had heard the same word; but that his faith differed from that of the other apostles, more in the manner of his believing, than in the doctrines he believed.
Indeed every thing holy in the hearts and lives of sinners, (except regeneration,) is ascribed in the Scripture to the energy of faith in its varied exercises : whereas many seem almost entirely to confine this influence to justification, except as they, without the least warrant from Scripture, speak of its regenerating the soul! Christians live by faith, stand by faith, walk by faith, obey by faith, fight the good fight of faith, orercome the world by faith, and“ are kept by the power of God, through faith,
unto salvation.”—The shield of faith is one principal part of our spiritual armour; and as every other part of this panoply of God denotes things of a holy nature; why should faith alone be deemed an exception? Or are we justified by one kind of faith, and do we fight our enemies by another?-We read of “ the work of faith, the la“ bour of love, and the patience of hope ;" but who can imagine, that the apostle meant a holy love, a holy hope, andan unholy faith? “ As ye have received Christ Jesus “ the Lord, so walk ye in him,” (that is, by the same kind of faith ;) “ rooted and built up in him, and esta“blished in the faith, as ye have been taught"."
1 John xvii. 17.
2 John xv. 3.
It has been repeatedly observed, that true faith, by receiving the sure testimony of God, appropriates the information he bestows, on those most important subjects, concerning which unbelief must remain in ignorance, or be left to uncertain reasonings and conjectures. -It is therefore a real act of faith to believe on this sure testimony, that “ the wicked shall be turned into “ hell, and all the people that forget God :” that " We “ cannot serve God and Mammon :" and that “ No “ whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, “ who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the king“ dom of Christ and of God; let no man deceive you “ with vain words, for because of these things cometh “ the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” If then a person be actually living in the practice of any of these iniquities, and yet think himself a justified person because of his creed and experience; his confidence is the result of direct unbelief, and expressly treats the plain testimony of God as a lie!
It is indeed a distinct act of faith to believe that “ Jesus is the Son of God;" that “ he died for our sins, " and rose again for our justification;" and that “ he is “ able to save to the uttermost all them that come to God
by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession “ for them.” But it would be very absurd to suppose, that these divine testimonies contradict those before mentioned; or that any man truly believed the one, -while he directly disbelieved the other! When therefore a sinner is brought truly to believe those declarations of Scripture, which shew his real state and character; he is prepared to believe also those truths, which relate to Christ and his salvation, and will certainly apply to him for deliverance from sin as well as from condemnation. This is properly faith in Christ, and it is immediately connected with justification : but it implies the belief of all other truths contained in the sacred oracles, as far
I Col. ii, 6, 7,