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of a sound mind, could, as it seems to me, say this even to Gabriel himself.
4. We learn from these observations, that the faith of the Gospel will exist for ever.
We often speak of faith, as hereafter to be swallowed up in vision, and intend by this, that it will cease to exist in the future world. In a qualified sense it is undoubtedly true; for many things which we now believe only, we shall hereafter know with certainty. But confidence in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, will exist for ever. Moral character seems not in its nature to be an object of science, properly so called. Spirits by every eye, except the omniscient, are discerned only through the medium of their actions, which are proofs of their natural attributes, and expressions of their moral character. Moral character is the amount of all the volitions of a moral agent. As these are free and independent, they are incapable of being known, but by the voluntary manifestations of the agent himself. United, they form and exhibit the whole moral character. In parts, though they denote it truly, they denote it imperfectly.
In every age of eternity it will be true that, in the physical sense, it is possible for God to oppress or destroy even his obedient creatures. The proofs that he will not, are found cnly in the disclosure of bis moral character, and on these disclosures his virtuous creatures will for ever rely with undoubting confidence, and with the utmost propriety and wisdom. Knowledge, or science, in the strict sense, they will not I think be ever able to obtain of this immensely important subject, nor would they be benefited, were they able. Science is in no degree of a moral nature, nor of course attended by virtuous affections, nor followed by virtuous conduct. But confidence is in itself moral and virtuous, and capable of being the highest virtue of a rational creature. Amiable and excellent in itself, it is approved and loved by God; the foundation of delight in his character, the source of uninterrupted obedience to his will, an endearing and immoveable union to him, a similar union to the virtuous universe, and the basis of everlasting friendship and beneficence, in all their mutual intercourse.
It will therefore revive beyond the grave, and with new vigour and perfection. With every new display of divine ex
cellence and created worth, it will rise higher and higher without end. The mind in which it exists will in every stage of its progress become wiser, nobler, better, and happier. Heaven in all its concerns, its inhabitants, and dispensations, will from its influence assume without intermission a brighter aspect, and the immense, eternal kingdom of Jehovah continually become a more and more perfect mirror, reflecting with increasing splendour bis supreme excellence and glory.
Having shown, that we are justified freely by the grace of God, proved the duty of believing, and explained the nature of evangelical faith, in the three preceding Discourses; I shall now proceed to examine the connection of faith with our justification. The first of these Discourses was employed in discussing that which is done in our justification on the part of God: in this Discourse I shall examine the nature and influence of that which is done on the part of man, towards the accomplishment of this important event. We are justified freely, or gratuitously. Yet we are justified conditionally; not in our natural, corrupt, and universal state ;, but in consequence of a new and peculiar state, denoted by the word faith.
In discussing this subject, I shall include the observations which I think it necessary to make under the following heads :
I. The manner, in which faith becomes ; and,
II. The propriety with which it is constituted, the means of our justification.
I. I shall attempt to describe the manner in which faith becomes the means of our justification.
To exhibit this subject in the clearest light, it will be useful to return again to the covenant of redemption, in which the justification of mankind was originally promised. You will perhaps remember, that there are, as was formerly stated, three distinct promises contained in this covenant, beside the general one, which involves them all : that. Christ shall see (or possess) a seed ;' that this seed shall prolong their days ;' (or endure, or be happy, for ever ;) and that the throne (or dominion) of Christ' over them shall be as the days of heaven:' (or, in other words, eternal.) The first of these promises, on which the other two are founded, is, that Christ shall see (or possess) a seed :' that is, he shall have a number, elsewhere said to be very great, of children, disciples or followers, in consequence of making his soul an offering for sin ;' or ' a propitiatory sacrifice.'
The great question naturally arising in this place is, In what manner do apostate men, of whom his followers were to consist, become his seed? To this question I answer, By faith. In explaining the true and full import of this answer, every thing may be said which is necessary to the object under consideration. To this end, it will be proper to observe,
1. That mankind do not become the children of Christ by creation.
By creation all men are equally his children. But all men are not his children in the sense of this covenant. In this sepse, those only are his seed, who are his disciples. But we know from innumerable passages of Scripture, that all men are not his disciples.
2. Men do not become the children of Christ by their obedience to the law.
No man has obeyed the law: and, therefore, by works of law no flesh can be justified.'
3. Men do not becomo the children of Christ merely by his atonement.
Christ was a propitiation for the sins of the whole world,' as well as for his disciples. But the whole world is not included in the number of his disciples.
4. Mankind do not become the children of Christ by their obedience wrought after they believe in him.
No man ever obeys, in the scriptural sense, until after he has believed. But men are children of Christ whenever thoy VOL. II.
believe, and that, whether they live to perform acts of obedience, or not. Multitudes, there is every reason to suppose, die so soon after believing, as to render it impossible for them to perform any acts of obedience whatever. All these are disciples of Christ. Men, therefore, ' are justified by faith, without works of law.'
As these are all the modes in which mankind have ever been supposed to become disciples of Christ, beside that which is the main subject of this Discourse, the necessary conclusion from these observations will be, that men become his children by faith, according to the meaning of this corenant.
At the same time, the nature of the case furnishes the most conclusive evidence to this position. Men in their original state are ruined and helpless. In this state Christ offers bimself to them as a Saviour, on the condition that they will become lis ; or that they will • come to him ;' or that they will give themselves up to him ; or in other words, voluntarily become his. In the seventeenth chapter of John, verse 2d, Christ says, in his iutercessory prayer to God, · As thou bast given him,' (that is, Christ,) power over all flesh; that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given hiin.' In the ninth verse he says, ' I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me ; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine ; and I am glorified in them.' In these passages we learn that the Father gave to Christ, originally, some of the human race; that all these are Christ's; that he is glorified in them; and that he gives them eternal life.
The covenant of grace made between God and mankind, is contained in these words, I will be your God, and ye shall be my people. In this covenant God is pleased to engage, on his part, to be the God of all who will be his; and man, on his part, gives himself up to God, engaging to be his. Accordingly mankind are commanded to yield themselves to God. Yield yourselves,' says St. Paul to the Romans, 'unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, Rom. vi. 13. •Be ye not stiff-necked,' said Hezekiah to the Israelites, * as your fathers were; but yield yourselves unto the Lord; and serve the Lord, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.'
According to this scheme, which is everywhere the scheme