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“ will do the will of God, he shall know of the doc“ trine whether it be of God, or whether I speak “ of myself.” “I will bring the blind by a way “ that they knew not; I will lead them in paths, “ which they have not known; I will make dark“ness light before them, and crooked things “ straight.” These and similar passages in Scripture naturally lead us to consider the work of God, in drawing the sinner unto himself, by Christ the living Way, in many instances at least, as very gradual: and they by no means can be made even to appear consistent with the opinion, that a man continues absolutely dead in sin, till after he has come to Christ, and has explicit knowledge of him, and faith in him; or even, as some state it, a full assurance of an interest in his salvation.
* The new-born infant instinctively craves the milk of the breast, though incapable of understanding the nature of its wants and desires : but various circumstances may retard its actual satisfaction in the wholesome nutriment provided for it. --Thus the new-born babe, in the spiritual world, feels a strong desire after the sincere milk of the word, yet often scarcely knows what he wants or seeks for; but the salvation of Christ alone can satisfy the new desires which he experiences; and whatever may hinder his progress,
he will still continue uneasy and enquiring, till brought to live explicitly by faith in the Son of God. Then he will seek no further, except to secure and enjoy the satisfying blessings which he has discovered.
And now let the reader seriously and impartially consider these several arguments, and endeavour to estimate their collective force: after which, let him determine, whether it has not been completely proved, that, according to the word of God, saving faith is always the effect of regeneration; and consequently that it is holy in its nature, as well as in its fruits.
Saving Faith always accompanied by other Things
NOTHER most conclusive argument to prove the holy nature of faith, may be deduced from the other holy exercises of the heart with which it is inseparably connected.
No man ever yet truly believed in Christ, without some measure of humiliation for sin: and where this is totally wanting, a professed believer can at most rank no higher than a stony-ground hearer, “ who has no root in himself,” in whatever manner slavish terrors have been succeeded by selfish comforts. But when a careless sinner, or a proud despiser of the gospel, is brought, with downcast eyes, to smite on his breast, and from his inmost soul to cry, “God be merciful to me "a sinner;" he certainly thus far manifests a right spirit. In the parable here alluded to, the question is not, what the Pharisee proudly assumed concerning his own sanctity; or what the publican humbly confessed of his own sinfulness; but, whether the humble confession of the one was not intrinsically better, than the proud boastings of the other ? And whether the publican's self
mercy was not an exercise of true holiness?_That it
from humility, and con-. trition, and was not extorted by mere terror, our Lord himself testifies; “I tell you, that this man " went down to his house justified rather than the “other: for every one that humbleth himself shall “ be exalted.” And this testimony ought to be decisive: for it evidently proves that genuine humility inseparably attends on justifying faith, even in its feeblest and most discouraged applications for pardoning mercy.
The Pharisee did not arrogate the honour of making himself to differ from other men; at least the words ascribed to him imply the contrary : and indeed the same is observable in the language of many who are notorious for spiritual pride. But he presumptuously deemed himself eminent in holiness, when he was altogether unholy; and established in the full favour of God, from which he was entirely estranged. If a man say, “God I thank thee for giving me humility, repentance, and newness of heart;' and then rely on these supposed endowments as the meritorious ground of his justification ; let him be classed with the Pharisee: but surely we may know that God hath given us these holy dispositions, and that “ by his
grace we are what we are," and heartily thank him for his special love in thus making us to differ; without in the least “ trusting to our own righ
" teousness, and despising others;" or else the most eminent believers, both of the Old and New Testament, must be joined with us under this condemnation. In whatever measure we have experienced " the sanctification of the Spirit unto “ obedience,” we shall not, if properly instructed, depend on it in the smallest degree for justification: and if this be the case of the most eminent saint on earth; why should it be supposed, that the least conceivable spark of true holiness, even when not discerned, must lead the new convert to a self-righteous confidence, and indispose him to seek the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ?
Saul of Tarsus, when a proud Pharisee, expressed the most contemptuous enmity against the holy Jesus, and " breathed out threatenings and slaugh" ter" against his harmless disciples. But view this same person, prostrate on the ground, trembling with apprehensions of merited vengeance, supplicating undeserved mercy, and saying to the Saviour,“ Lord, what wouldest thou have me to “ do ?”—Then observe him, when“ what things
were gain to him, those lie counted loss for “Christ;" and determine whether no degree of genuine humiliation was .connected with his first exercises of faith in the Son of God.
But if we carefully examine the language of! Scripture, we must be convinced, that humility is a radical and most important part of holiness; and especially that humiliation for sin is essential to