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things by which to anchor the confidence gains peace to his own heart; and the jusof him who hath fled for refuge to the hope lice which beams a terror on all who stand set before him. He staggers not at the without, utterly passes by the shielded head promises of God, because of unbelief. He of him who hath turned to the strong hold, holds himself steadfast, by simply counting and taken a place under the shadow of his him to be faithful who hath promised. It wings, who hath satisfied the justice of God, is through that very faith, by being strong and taken upon himself the burden of its in which he gives glory to God, that he fullest vindication.
The purifying Influence of the Christian Faith.
"Sanctified by faith."-Acts xxvi. 18.
III. It is a matter of direct and obvious tinue the same motives to abstain from sin, understanding, how the law, by its promises as those intelligible ones which the law and its threatenings, should exert an influ- furnishes, or even other motives of more ence over human conduct. We seem to powerful operation. We are quite sure that walk in a plain path, when we pass onwards there is something here which needs to be from the enforcements of the law, to the made plain to the understandings of a very effect of them on the fears, and the hopes, numerous class of inquirers,-a knot of difand the purposes of man. Do this, and you ficulty which needs to be untied,-a hidden shall live; and do the opposite of this, and step in the process of explanation, on which you shall forfeit life, form two clear and they may firmly pass from what is known distinct processes, in the conceiving of to what is unknown. There are not two which, there is no difficulty whatever. The terms in the whole compass of human lanmotive and the movement both stand intel- guage, which stand more frequently and ligibly out to the discernment of common more familiarly contrasted with each other, sense; nor in the application of such argu- than those of faith and good works; and ment as this, to the design of operating on this, not merely on the question of our acthe character or life of a human being, is ceptance before God, but also on the questhere any mystery to embarrass, any hidden tion of the personal character and acquirestep, which, by baffling our every attempt ments of a true disciple of Christ. It is to seize upon it, leaves us in a state of help-positively not seen, how the possession of less perplexity.
| the one should at all stimulate to the perThe same is not true of the gospel, or of formance of the other,-how the peace of the manner in which it operates on the the gospel should reside in the same heart, springs of human action. It is not so rea- from which there emanates, on the life of a dily seen how its privileges can be appro- believer, the practice of the gospel-how a priated by faith, and at the same time its righteousness that is without the deeds of precepts can retain their practical authority the law, should stand connected, in the acover the conduct of a believer. There is an tual history of him who obtains it, with a alarm, and an honest alarm, on the part of zealous, and diligent, and every-day doing many, lest a proclamation of free grace unto of these deeds. the world, should undermine all our securi- There is much in all this to puzzle the ties for the cause of righteousness in the man who is experimentally a stranger 10 world. They look with jealousy upon the the truth as it is in Jesus. Nor does it at freeness. They fear lest a deed so ample all serve to extricate or to enlighten him, and unconditional, of forgiveness for the when he is made to perceive, that, in point past, should give rise, in the heart of a sin- of fact, those men who most cordially assent ner, to a secure opinion of its impunity for to the doctrine of salvation being all of grace the future. What they dread is, that to pro- and not of works, are most assiduous in so claim such a freeness of pardon on the part walking, and in so working, and in so painsof God, would be to proclaim a correspond taking, as if salvation were all of works, ing freeness of practice on the part of man. and not of grace. The fact is quite obvious They are able to comprehend how the law, and unquestionable. But the principle on by its direct enforcements, should operate which it rests, remains a mystery to the in keeping men from sin; but they are not general eye of the world. They marvel, but able to comprehend how, when not under they go no farther. They see that thus it the law, but under grace, there should con-l is, but they see not how it is; and they put
it down among those inexplicable oddities | taste,--or will behold the sportive felicity of which do at times occur, both in the moral animals, and thence obtain gratification to the and natural kingdom of the creation. benevolence,-or will behold the precipice
But in all our attempts to dissipate this beneath, and thence obtain a warning of obscurity, it is well to advert to the total danger, or a direction of safety,or may difference between him who has the faith, behold a thousand different objects, and and him who has it not. The one has the obtain a thousand different feelings and materials of the argument under his eye, different intimations. and within the grasp of his handling. The Now the same of faith. It has been called other may be able to recognize in the argu- the eye of the mind. But whether this be ment, a logical and consistent process; but a well conceived image or not, it certainly he is at a loss about the simple conceptions, affords an inlet to the mind for a great which form the materials of the argument. variety of communications. The Apostle He is like a man who can perform all the calls faith the evidence of things not seen,manipulations of an algebraical process, not of one such thing, but of very many while he feels not the force or the signifi- such things. The man who possesses faith, cancy of the symbols. His habits of ratio- can be no more intellectually blind to one of cination enable him to perceive, that there these things, and at the same time knowing is a connexion between the ideas in the ar- and believing as to another of them, than gument. But the ideas themselves are not the man who possesses sight can, with his manifest to him. It is not in the power of eye open, perceive one external object, and reasoning to supply this want. Reasoning have no perception of another, which stands cannot create the primary materials of the as nearly and as conspicuously before him. argument. It only cements them together. The man who is destitute of sight, will And here it is, that you are met by the im- never know what it is to feel the charm of potency of human demonstration, and are visible scenery. But grant him sight; and reduced to the attitude of knocking at a he will not only be made alive to this door which you cannot open,—and feel charm, but to a multitude of other influyour need of an enlightening spirit,--and | ences, all emanating from the various obare made to perceive, that it is only on the jects of visible nature, through the eye upon threshold of Christianity, where you can the mind, and against which his blindness hold the intercourse of a common sympa- had before opposed a hopeless and invincithy and understanding with the world, ble barrier. And the man who is destitute and that to be admitted to the mysteries of of faith, will never know what it is to feel the kingdom of heaven, you must pass into the charm of the peace-speaking blood of a region of manifestation, where the world Christ. But grant him faith; and he will cannot follow, but where it will cast the not only be made alive to this charm, but imputation of madness and of mysticism to a multitude of other influences, all emaafter you.
nating from the various truths of revelaWithout attempting to define faith, as to tion, through this intellectual organ, on the the nature of it, which could not be done heart of him who was at one time blind, but with other words more simple than but has now been made to see. This will itself, let us look to the objects of faith, and help, in some measure, to clear up the persee whether there do not emanate from them, plexity to which we have just now adverted. a sanctifying influence on the heart of every | They who are under its darkening influreal believer.
ence, conceive of the faith which worketh First, then, the whole object of faith, is peace, that it has only to do with one docthe matter of the testimony of God'intrine, and that that one doctrine relates to Scripture. So that though faith be a single Christ, as a peace-offering for sin. Now, it principle, and is designated in language by is very true, that it has to do with this one a single term, yet this by no means pre- doctrine; but it has also to do with other cludes it from being such a principle, as doctrines, all equally presented before it in comes into contact, and is conversant, with a the very same record, and the view of all very great variety of objects. In this re- which is equally to be had, from the very spect it may bear a resemblance to sight, same quarter of contemplation. In other or hearing, or any other of the senses, by words, the very same opening of the menwhich man holds communication with the tal eye, through which the peace of the external things that are near him, and gospel finds entrance into the bosom of a around him. The same eye which, when faithful man, affords an entrance for the open, looks to a friend, and can, from that righteousness of the gospel along with it. Very look, afford entrance into the heart for The truth that Christ died for the sins of an emotion of tenderness, will also behold the world, will cast upon his mind its apother visible things, and take in an appro- propriate influence. But so also will the priate influence from each of them, --will truth that Christ is to judge the world, and behold the prospect of beauty that is before the truth that unless ye repent ye shall. th, and thence obtain gratification to the perish, and the truth that they who have a
right to the tree of life, are they who keep of faith, and suppose it to be Jesus Christ the commandments, and the truth that an in his person and in his character. It is a unrighteous man shall not inherit the king-summary, but at the same time a most true dom of God. If a man see not every one and substantial affirmation, that we are object that is placed within the sphere of saved by faith in Christ. And yet this very his natural vision, he sees none of them, affirmation, true as it is, may have been so and his whole body is full of darkness. If misunderstood as to darken the minds of a man believe the Bible to be the word of many, into the very misconception that we God, he will read it; but if he read it, and are attempting to expose. I could not be believe not every one truth that lies within said to have faith in an acquaintance, if I the grasp of his understanding, he believes believed not all that he told me. Nor have none of them, and is in darkness, and I faith in Christ, if I believe not every item knoweth not whither he is going.
of that communication of which he is the If I open the door of my mind to the author, either by himself or by his mesword of God, I as effectually make it the sengers. So that faith in Christ, so far from repository of various truths, as, if I open excluding any of the truths of the Bible, the door of my chainber, and take in the comprehends our assent to them all. But Bible, I make this chamber the repository we are willing to admit, that the phrase is of the book, and of every chapter, and of calculated to fasten our attention more parevery verse, that is contained in it. I thus ticularly on such truth as relates, in a more bring my mind into contact with every one immediate manner, to the person and the influence, that every one truth is fitted to doings of the Saviour. Take it in this exercise over it. If there be nothing in sense, and you will find, that though emithese truths contradictory to each other, nently and directly fitted to work peace in (and if there be, let this set aside, as it the heart of a believer, it is just as directly ought, the authority of the whole commu- and powerfully on the side of his practical nication,) then the mind acts a right and righteousness. When I think of Christ, and consistent part in believing each of them, think of him as one who has poured out his and in subinitting itself to the influence of soul unto the death for me, I feel a confieach of them. And thus it is, that believing dence in drawing near untó God. When the propitiation which is through the blood employed in this contemplation, I look to of Christ, for the remission of sins that are him as a crucified Saviour. But without past, I may feel through him the peace of keeping mine eye for a single moment from reconciliation with the Father; and be- off his person,--without another exercise lieving that he who cometh unto Christ for of mind, than that by which I look unto forgiveness must forsake all, I may also Jesus, simply and entirely, as he is set forth feel the necessity which lies upon me of unto me, -I also behold him at one time as departing from all iniquity; and believing an exalted Saviour, and at another time as that in myself there is no strength for the a commanding Saviour, and at another time accomplishment of such a task, I may look as a strengthening Saviour. In other words, around for other expedients, than such as by the mere work of faith in Christ, I bring can be devised by my own natural wisdom, my heart into contact with all those motives, or carried into effect by my own natural and all those elements of influence, which energies; and believing that, in the hand give rise to the new obedience of the gosof Christ there are gifts for the rebellious, pel. When the veil betwixt me and the and that one of these gifts is the Holy Spirit Saviour is withdrawn,-when God shines to strengthen his disciples, I may look to / in my heart with the light of the knowhim for my sanctification, even as I look ledge of his own glory in the face of his unto him for my redemption : and believing Son, --when the Spirit taketh of the things that the gift is truly promised as an answer of Christ, and showeth them unto me, and to prayer, I may mingle a habit of prayer, I am asked which of the things it is that is with a habit of watchfulness and of en-most fitted to arrest a convicted sinner, in deavour. And thus may I go abroad over the midst of his cries and prayers for dethe whole territory of divine truth, and turn liverance, I would say, that it was Christ to its legitimate account every separate por- lifted up on the cross of his offences, and tion of it, and be in all a trusting, and a pouring out the blood of that mighty exworking, and a praying, and a rejoicing, piation, by which the guilt of them all is and a trembling disciple,--and that, not be- washed away. This is the rock on which cause I have given myself up to the guidance he will build all his hopes of acceptance of clashing and contradictory principles, before God. He will look unto Christ and but because, with a faith commensurate to be at peace. But this is not the only atti
in my whole mind, and whole person, to He will look to Christ as an example. He the authority of a whole Bible.
will look to him as a teacher. He will look But secondly, let us take what some may to him in all the capacities which are atthink a more restricted view of the objectItached to the person, or identified with the doings of the Saviour. He will look to him, pretext and a pacification to his conscience, asserting his right of authority and disposal under a wilful habit of perseverance in over those whom he has purchased unto iniquity. But, if this partial faith of his be himself. He will, by the eye of faith, see not a real faith, then we are not responsible that rebuking glance which our Saviour cast for his conduct, nor ought he to be at all over the misconduct of his discipies,-and quoted as an exception against that alliance, which, when Peter saw, by the eye of sight, for which we are contending, between the he was so moved by the spectacle, that he faith of the gospel and the cause of practical went out and wept bitterly. That meek-righteousness. Only grant the faith to be ness and gentleness of Christ, in the name real, and as there is no one doctrine of the of which, Paul besought his disciples to Bible, out of which it may not gather a puwalk no more after the flesh, will be pre- risying influence to the heart, so out of this sent in its influence on those who, though doctrine of the atonement, will such a purithey see him not, yet believe him, and have fying influence descend most abundantly on their conceptions filled and satisfied with the heart of every genuine believer. his likeness. They will behold him to be For, it first takes away a wall of partition, an exalted Prince, as well as an exalted Sa- which, in the case of every man who has viour, and they will count it a faithful say- not received this doctrine, lies across the ing, that he came to sanctify as well as re- path of his obedience at the very comdeem,--and they will look upwards to his mencement. So long as I think that it is present might as a commander, as well as quite impossible for me so to run as to obforwards to his future majesty as a judge,- tain, I will not move a single footstep. Unand they will be thoroughly persuaded, that der the burden of a hopeless controversy to persevere in sin, is altogether to thwart between me and God, I feel as it were the great aim of the enterprize of our re- weighed down to the inactivity of despair. demption,-and they will understand as I live without hope; and so long as I do so, Paul did, who affirmed, with expostulations I live without God in the world. And beand tears, that the enemies of righteousness sides, he, while the object of my terror, is are also the enemies of the cross ;--and also the object of my aversion. The helpthus, from Christ, in all his various attitudes, less necessity under which I labour, so long 72. will a moralizing power descend on the as the question of my guilt remains unsethearts of those who really believe in him,-tled is to dread the Being whom I am comand as surely as any man possesses the manded to love. I may occasionally cast a faith that is in Christ Jesus, so surely will feeble regard towards that distant and inache be sanctified by that faith.
cessible Lawgiver : But so long as I view And, thirdly, let us confine our attention him shrouded in the darkness of frowning still farther, to one particular article of our majesty, I can place in him no trust, and I taith. Paul was determined to know no- can bear towards him no filial tenderness. thing, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I may occasionally consult the requireNow, conceive faith to attach itself to the ments of his law: But when I look to the latter clause of this verse, and that Christ uncancelled sentence that is against me, I crucified, for the time being, is the single can never tread, with hopeful or assured object of its contemplation. There is still footsteps, on the career of obedience. But no such thing as a true faith, attaching ( let me look unto Christ listed up for our itself to this one object exclusively; and offences, and see the hand-writing of ordithough at one time it may be the sole con-nances that was against us, and which was templation which engrosses it, at other contrary unto us, nailed to his cross, and times it may have other contemplations. If, there blotted out and taken out of the way ; in fact, it shut out those other contempla- and then I see the barrier in question level tions, which are furnished by the subject-led with the ground. I now behold the way matter of the testimony of God, it may be of repentance cleared of the obstructions. proved now, and it will be proved in the by which it was aforetime rendered utterlý day of reckoning, to be no faith at all. But limpassable. This is the will of God even just as it has been said, that the mind can your sanctification, may be sounded a thouonly think of one thing at a time, so faith sand times in the ear of an unbeliever, and may be employed, for a time, in looking leave him as immoveable as it found him; only towards one object; and as we said be- because, while under a sense of unexpiated fore, let Christ crucified be conceived to be guilt, he sees a mighty parapet before him, that one object. From what has been said which he cannot scale. But if the same already, it will be seen, that this one exer- words be sounded in the ears of a believer, cise of faith will not counteract the legiti- they will put him into motion. For to him mate effect of the other exercises. But we the parapet is opened up, and the rough should like to compute the influence of this way is made smooth, and the mountain and one exercise on the heart and life of a be- the hill are brought low, and the valley of liever. In the case of an Antinomian, the separation is filled, and he is made to see doctrine of the atonement may furnish a l the salvation of God. The path of obedience
is made level before him, and he enters it somuch that the state of the believer, in rewith the inspiration of a new and invigora- spect of motive and of practical influence, ting principle; and that love to God, which is the very reverse of what we have now the consciousness of guilt will ever keep at adverted to. In the act of becoming a bea distance from the heart, now takes up the liever, he awakens from the deep and uniroom of this terrifying, and paralysing, and versal lethargy of nature. With his new alienating sentiment; and the reception of hope commences his new life. He ceases this doctrine of atonement is just as much to be stationary,--and what is more, he the turning point of a new character, as it never ceases to be progressive. He does is the turning point of a new hope; and it not satisfy himself with barely moving onis the very point, in the history of every wards to a higher point in the scale of huhuman soul, at which the alacrity of gospel man attainment, and then sitting down obedience takes its commencement, as well with the sentiment that it is enough. He as the cheerfulness of gospel anticipations. never counts it enough. The practical attiTill this doctrine be believed, there is no tude of the believer is that of one who is attempt at obedience at all; or else, it is ever looking forwards. The practical movesuch an obedience as is totally unanimated ment of the believer is that of one who is by the life and the love of real godliness. ever pressing forwards. He could not, withAnd it is not till this doctrine has taken out a surrender of those essential principles possession of the mind, that any man can which make him what he is, tarry at any take up the language of the Psalmist, and one point in the gradation of moral excelsay, “Lord, I am thy servant, I am thy ser-lence. It is not more inseparable from him vant, thou hast loosed my bonds."
to be ever doing well, than it is inseparable Conceive, then, a believer with the career from him to be ever aspiring to do better. of obedience thus opened up and made so that the paltry question about the dehopeful to him,-conceive him with the ne-grees and the comparisons of virtue, he encessity of obedience made just as authen- tertains not for a moment; and, with all the tically known to him as are the tidings of aids and expedients of the gospel for helphis deliverance from guilt,-conceive a man ing his advancement, does he strenuously who, by the act of rendering homage to the prosecute the work of conforming to the truth of God, rests a confidence in the death precept of the gospel,-to be growing in of Christ for pardon, and who also, by the grace, to be perfecting himself in holiness. very same act, subscribes to the sayings of It has been a much controverted quesChrist about repentance, and the new walk tion, how far this process of continual adof the new creature,-and then let me ask vancement will carry a believer in this you to think of the securities which encom- world. Some affirm it will carry him to pass his mind, and protect it from the delu- the point of absolute perfection. Others sion that we have already alluded to. We more cautiously satisfy themselves by the have said that the peace which is felt in a remark, that whether perfection be ever vague apprehension of God's mercy, and our attainment or not, it ought always to which makes no account of his truth, or of be our aim. And one thing seems to be his justice, has the effect of making him certain,--that there is no such perfection who entertains it altogether stationary, in in this world, as might bring along with it point of acquirement. With the semblance the repose of victory. of good that he has about him, he will meet Paul counted all that was behind as nothe sterner attributes of the Deity. For his thing, and he pressed onwards. And it is defect of real good, he will draw on the in- the experience of every Christian, who dulgent attributes of the Deity. He will makes a real business of his sanctification, make the character of God, suit itself to his that there is a struggle between nature and own character, so that any stimulus to ad- grace, even unto the end. There is no disvance or to perfect it, shall be practically charge from this warfare, while we are in done away. And thus it is, that along the the body. To the last hour of life there whole range of human accomplishment, will be the presence of a carnal nature to you may observe an unvaried state of re- humble him, and to make him vigilant ; pose, -the repose, in fact, of death,--for the and, with every true Christian, there will repose of man who brought to the estimate be the ascendency of grace, so as that this of a spiritual law, will be found, to use the nature shall not have the dominion over significant language of the Bible, dead in him. The corruption of the old man will trespasses and sins,-sinning at one time be effectually resisted; but not, we fear, till without remorse, trusting at another time the materialism of our actual frames be rewithout foundation.
solved into dust, will this corruption be Now the gospel scheme of mercy is clear destroyed. The flesh lusting against the of this abuse altogether. It comes forth spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, is the upon the sinner with an antidote against short but compendious description of the this security, just as strong and as promi-state of every believer in the world ;-and nent as is its antidote against despair. In-I could the evil and adverse principle be