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Were there nothing but intellect, there could not be any idea of beauty. Beauty is the object of taste, which belongs to the will or heart, and not to the intellect, as such, or considered as distinct from the inclination or choice, and as not including the latter. Therefore, he who has no taste for moral beauty, but is of a disposition of heart directly contrary to this, has no true idea of moral beauty; and no degree of strength or clearness of mere intellect will help him to it. He cannot be put
any imaginable circumstances which will give him this idea, while he is without all right taste and disposition of heart. No external or internal applications; no applications and influences, even of the Spirit of God, can give the mind the least true light in this matter, while he heart remains wholly corrupt, and so without all right taste and discerning: this being in the nature of things impossible; or, which is the same, a direct and perfect contradiction. Therefore this cannot be done in any other possible way, than by giving a new taste, which is in scripture language, a new heart.
But when the heart is changed by regeneration, a new heart, or right taste and disposition given, the mind becomes capable of the idea of moral beauty; and in the exercise of this taste and discerning, sees God; sees his moral character, as it is exercised and expressed in his moral government and kingdom, in all the beauty, excellence, wisdom, and glory of it; and so “sees the kingdom of God.” And by discovering this new, and before hidden object, all things relating to the moral government and kingdom of God, become new to the mind, and appear in a light entirely different, and contrary to what they did before. They now apptar to have such a reality, connexion, and consistence, as never appeared to an unrenewed mind.
True faith, considered in its general nature, consists in this discerning of Divine things, which originates in a right taste and disposition of mind, and is an exercise of such a taste, and so really an exercise of heart, even of LOVE to moral beauty and excellence.
Faith in Christ consists in this discerning of things relative to the character of the Mediator; which discerning implies an exercise of heart, even love to his character; and consequently, a hearty approbation and acceptance of him in his true character; which appears from what has been observed.
Hence it appears, that the object of the faith of God's elect, or reai Christians, is different from that of the faith of devils and wicked men; and that this object is moral beauty and excellence. It also hence appears, that there is an essential difference in the subject, which is the foundation and origin of the forementioned differ.
This consists in the taste and disposition of the heart. Hence there is also an essential difference in the exercise itself. The faith of the true Christian implies LOVE, as essential to it; love to the objects and truths discerned and believed, or the objects of faith. Or in St. Paul's words, this faith “worketh by love." That is, the life and active nature, and the whole of the exercise of saving faith, is an exercise of heart, and consists in love. In this, and in this only, it stands distinguished from all other kinds of faith. The faith of devils, and of unregenerate men, has no love to God and Divine things in the nature of it; but is consistent with the greatest hatred of God, and strong and constant opposition to his character and government.
Corollary. Hence learn, That the faith maintained by Mr. Sander man, and others who place it in a mere intellectual view and belief of the truth, and so as not to imply and involve any right taste or exercise of the heart, is of the same nature with the faith of devils and wicked men, and is not true saving faith. Indeed, what they suppose is impossible; viz. that the mind may have a true idea of the character of the just God, and the Savior, or see the truth, with respect to this, just as it is, independent of the heart, and while the whole heart is in opposition t this character. This is the same as to suppose, that the mind may discern moral beauty without any taste or relish for it, and while it perfectly hates it; that is, that it does discern, without any discerning at all!
It is further to be observed, that they whose faith is not a discerning of moral beauty, but a believing that Christ is my Savior, &c. are never able to distinguish a true faith from that which is not so; or to tell wherein the distinction and difference lies; unless it be in the fruits. But if there be no difference in the nature of true faith, from that which is false, how came the fruits to be different? This question has not yet been answered. by any man.
THE HALF WAS NOT TOLD ME..
So said the queen of Sheba when she became acquainted with the wisdom of Solomon. So says the soul, who becomes savingly acquainted with the excellency of Christ. And behold a greater than Solomon is here! Thus the true saint continues to say, while he enjoys the comfort of walking with God. So he will say again, when he comes to appear with Christ in glory. And thus he may express the rapture of his soul to all eternity. And may we not suppose that this will also be the cry
of the sinner when he comes to feel the wrath of the despised Lamb of God? And will not the song of the saint be the cry of the sinner forever and ever? While one is for ever soaring in climes of felicity, and the other for ever sinking in the regions of despair, will not this be their perpetual language, The half was not told me! the half was not told me! But how different their feelings! How distant the extremes! How broad the separating gulph!
ON THE DESIRE OF DEATH.
THOUGH, from an original principle of our nature, we love and cherish that existence the Creator has given us, yet there are certainly some cases, where the desire of dissolution is neither unnatural nor unlawful.
By dissolution here, is not meant an absolute privation of being: a thought disclaimed by every Christian, as without foundation either in philosophy or religion. The idea conveyed by the word, is merely a separation of constituent parts, and applied to man: such a separation as consigns the grosser part to decay, while the other, which is immortal, is transmitted to a new state of being. An apostle, speaking of death as it concerns believers, compares it with great happiness; to the pulling down of an insufficient cumbersome house, that the occupier might take possession of a more elegant and durable abode: “for we know,” says he, “that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."*
A lawful desire of death is incompatible with any character but that of a good man: eternity has no charms for the sinner. He dreads a change of cicrumstances, which must wrest from his eager grasp the source of all his pleasures and his hopes. He has no pretensions beyond the present world. When dangers that threat. en his existence approach, how dreadful are the agitations of his soul! he looks with terror on the stroke that breaks his house of clay, and, vainly pertinacious, clings to the falling pile! the appointed hour arrives, admits of no respite, and “the wicked is driven away in his wickedness."
But the man whose faith has been to him the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen,” has feelings of a very different nature. It is consistent with his habitual expectations to view death without 'horror, nay, with composure and serenity of mind. “The righteous hath hope in his death.” The
* 2 Cor. v. 1, O'ídajev yag, &c. for we know that if this our house, which has its foundation in the earth ( ÈTÍYelos) and is erected, like a tabernacle, for temporary purposes, were broken down (καταλυθη) we have a solid building of God (οικοδομών) a house which, as no hands made it, no hands can overthrow, eternal in the heavens.