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power of God, through faith, unto salvation.”] The actual comfort of this privilege must indeed depend on our scriptural evidence that we are true believers; as other men can persevere in nothing except ungodliness or hypocrisy. So long, therefore, as any one doubts whether he be indeed regenerate, he cannot fully take to himself the comfort of God's promises; for he cannot know that they belong to him: and whatever tends to bring his character into suspicion, must proportionably interrupt his confident hope of final victory and triumph; which is only intended to encourage the valiant soldier, when strenuously resisting his enemies, and “ fighting the good

fight of faith.” The words of our Lord, however, are decisive on the point in question. “My

sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and

they follow me; and I give unto them eter“ nal life; and they shall never perish; nei“ther shall any one pluck them out of my

hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than

all, and no one (ouders) is able to pluck them out “ of my Father's hand. I and my Father are One.” “ The water that I shall give him shall be in him “ a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

“ Fear not, little flock, for it is your Fa“ ther's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”2 The apostle also assures us, that nothing shall “ separate us from the love of God in Christ:"3 and in confirmation of his doctrine he enumerates

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11 Pet. i. 5. 2 Luke xii. 32. John iv. 14. x. 27-30. 3 Rom. viii. 35-39.

a variety of those particulars which principally endanger us, in most energetic and triumphant language. The Lord hath“ made with his people “ an everlasting covenant,” and hath engaged “ that he will not turn away from them to do “ them good; and that he will put his fear into “ their hearts, that they shall not depart from him.! And this covenant he has ratified with an oath, for the strong consolation of the heirs of promise: even the oath which he swore to Abraham, “ that in blessing he would bless him,” notwithstanding all possible obstructions and objections."2 Indeed, “ having chosen them in Christ “ before the foundation of the world,” and -quickened them “ when dead in sin;" it might reasonably be expected, that the same sovereign and everlasting mercy would influence him to keep them to complete salvation, by strength proportioned to all their trials and temptations.

We might, likewise, mention as separate privileges, the assurance that “ all things work toge“ther for good to them that love God," and combine to promote their everlasting advantage, however painful or humiliating for the present; so that they are “ more than conquerors” over all enemies, and are benefited by all their assaults: that death is their friend, and that his dreaded stroke only liberates them from bondage, and so proves their greatest gain :3 and that the everlasting God, is their portion, and their all-sufficient and allsatisfying felicity.

* 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Jer. xxxii. 38—40. Ps. ciï. 17. Is. liv. 9, 10, 17.

? Heb, vi. 16-18. * Rom. viii. 28–31. 1 Cor. xv. 55-58.

But here silent contemplation best becomes us : and with this let us close these hints on a subject that is nearly inexhaustible. Enough has been said to shew that true wisdom consists in leaving, venturing, or suffering, any thing to secure such advantages ; and in giving diligence to possess the assurance that they belong to us : that, if we lived up to our privileges, “ the joy of the Lord would “ be our strength” for every service; and our cheerfulness and conscientiousness would concur in “adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour; and that our dejections arise, not from our religion, but from our want of more faith, hope, love, and all those things in which true godliness consists.

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ESSAY XVIII.

ON THE DISPOSITION AND CHARACTER PECULIAR TO

THE TRUE BELIEVER,

When our Lord concluded his pathetic exhortations to his disconsolate disciples, just before his crucifixion, by a comprehensive prayer for them; he made this one of his petitions to the Father in their behalf, “ Sanctify them through “thy truth; thy word is truth :”) and the scriptures always represent divine truth as the seed in the believer's heart of every holy disposition; the graft through which “ the tree is made good and “its fruit good;" and the mould into which the soul is cast, and from which it receives its form and exact impression, as the metal is fashioned by the artist's skill:2 so that we are not only “ justi“fied by faith,” but also “ sanctified by faith.”3 The doctrine of Christ dwells in the regenerate soul as an operative transforming principle, producing a peculiar state of the judgment, will, and affections, in proportion to the degree in which it is understood and believed. This may properly be called the Christian temper.

It is the exact counterpart of the truths by which it is produced ; it discriminates the real believer from all other men; and it constitutes the standard of our proficiency in vital godliness, of our “ growth in grace, “and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour

1

John xvii. 17.

2 Rom. vi. 17.

3

Acts xxvi. 18.

" Jesus Christ.” Alas! a great part of the acquaintance, which most men have formed with the truths of revelation, is merely notional; and, if we do not perceive the genuine nature and tendency of the doctrines to which we assent, they must fail to exert their transforming efficacy on our hearts. Thus“ knowledge puffeth up,” even when the things known are evidently suited to produce the deepest humility ;' and though they never fail to have this effect, where they are received by a living faith as the nutriment and medicine of the soul. It may, therefore, be proper to consider more particularly those dispositions and affections, which constitute the appropriate temper and character of the true believer; adverting, as we proceed, to the truths by which they are produced and nourished ; and endeavouring to distinguish between the lamented failures and imperfections of the upright, and the allowed and indulged evils of the mere hypocrite or self-deceiver.

I. Humility may be considered as most essential to the Christian temper, and as radical to every part of it. The believer's principles continually present to his mind the greatness and majesty of God, and the comparative meanness of all creatures; which cannot fail to abate his natural propensity to self-importance and self-exaltation, and to make him feel himself as nothing before the infinite Creator. Having received his being and all he possesses from the hand of God, and holding every thing in the most absolute dependence on him, he cannot consistently “ glory as though he

See the Author's Commentary on 2 Cor. xii. 7--10.

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