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looked, or at least greatly kept out of sight: then the justice and holiness of God, and his strict and spiritual law, appear terrible rather than glorious and lovely; the odiousness, and desert of transgression are concealed or palliated; salvation from punishment is detached from “ the sanc"tification of the Spirit unto obedience:” and then it is no wonder that unconverted men often credit such a gospel, which is entirely congenial to their pride and carnal minds. Because they may be delighted with the false notions thus given them of the character of God; while they continue to hate the infinitely just and holy God, whom the Scriptures reveal: as the Jews imagined they loved the God of Abraham, whose favourites they deemed themselves; though the Truth himself testified, “ They have both seen and hated “ both me and my Father.” And having once thus awfully quieted and pleased themselves with an unholy faith, a presumptuous confidence, selfish affections, and a carnalized gospel; it is alas, not probable they should ever be undeceived, till the light of eternity tremendously shew them their real character and situation.
The true gospel of Christ reveals “ a just God “and a Saviour.”—The eternal Son of the Father became incarnate, to honour the righteous demands of the holy law, by a divinely perfect obedience, during the whole course of his suffering life; and to honour its curse by his unknown
agonies in the garden and on the cross; that sinners, who most justly deserved, and who must otherwise inevitably have endured, the everlasting wrath of God, might through his merits, ransom, and mediation, be freely pardoned, completely justified, and gradually recovered to perfect holiness by the Spirit of God given unto them.—But an unhumbled, unholy heart cannot truly believe this gospel: and a faith which does not allow the excellency of the law, the desert of sin, and the justice of God in the awful sentence denounced against transgressors, cannot render him the glory of his free mercy in salvation. Much less can such a faith give God the glory of all his other perfections, as harmonizing with his mercy in that stupendous design, which is the admiration of angels, and all redeemed sinners, and shall be so to all eternity
It is not meant, that the sinner, when he first comes for mercy to the Saviour, distinctly perceives these things: but he must be so far enlightened, humbled, softened, and changed, as to yield the point in contest : he must willingly come, as a justly condemned criminal, for a free and holy salvation in the Lord's appointed way. So that an unholy faith can only welcome an unholy gospel and make an unholy use of it: and it is observable, that such respectable men, as are induced to plead in hehalf of this kind of faith; when they proceed to answer objections, or to
shew its sanctifying tendency, imperceptibly, and doubtless unintentionally, slide into quite another view of faith: and then it becomes very easy to make the cause appear specious; nor do most readers bestow sufficient pains to detect the latent fallacy, or to become so conversant in such sub. jects, as to be capable of exactly discriminating between them. The author, however, is confident, that his arguments, if duly weighed and compared with Scripture, will be found conclusive; and fully prove, that saving faith is a holy exercise of the soul.
Saving Faith the principle of all holy affections,
words, and works.
The holy nature of true faith may likewise be inferred, with absolute certainty, from the effects produced by it: for “a corrupt tree cannot bring “ forth good fruit;” and “every tree is known by “its fruit.”—-Faith, when genuine, excites all holy affections, and works by them in all holy obedience. “By faith Noah, being warned of God “ of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,
prepared an ark.”-Sinners, when warned to flee from the wrath to come, if they believe the warning, are moved with fear to forsake their sinful courses and unscriptural confidences; and when they have been instructed in the gospel, i they believe the gracious message, they are moved "to flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set be“ fore them.” Even confirmed disciples are repeatedly warned," not to fear them that kill the
body, and after that have no more that they can "do; but to fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." " Blessed is he that
? Matt, X. 28. Luke xii. 4, 5.
* feareth always.” “Be not high minded, but * fear.” “ Let us therefore fear, lest a promise
being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” “Let us " have grace to serve God, with reverence and “godly fear; for our God is a consuming Fire.” In proportion to the degree, in which we under: stand and believe these words, we shall be moved with fear, to use proper means, and flee to a distance from the danger: for “a prudent man “ foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, but the
simple pass on and are punished.” And this fear implies reverence of the authority and justice of God, hope in his mercy, and a desire of his favour and the happiness that he bestows; which implies love of his excellencies, as well as dread of his awful power and indignation.
But the highest and purest energy of Faith consists in calling forth holy lode into vigorous exercise; and by its powerful influence constraining the believer to all devoted and self-denying obedience, and patient suffering for the Lord's sake. Indeed this will be perceived, by those who well consider the subject, to comprise every thing: for love is the leading affection of the soul, and governs all others.--When therefore the apostle would mark, in few words, the essential distinction between a christian and all other men, he says, “In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth
any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which