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those points, which most offend and oppose the pride and lusts of the human heart: and thus "he "that believeth hath set to his seal that God is "true;" while unbelief "makes God a liar." Faith owns as "the Son of God," as "the Lord "from heaven," as "God manifested in the flesh," that Jesus, whom unbelieving Jews crucified, and whom all unbelievers "crucify afresh;" and views him as now risen from the dead, reigning in glory, the Ruler and Judge of the whole world, Omnipotent to save and to destroy. Faith embraces the doctrine of the cross with cordial approbation, as "the wisdom and power of God unto "salvation;" while it is "foolishness to those that perish." Faith "submits to God's righteous
ness," allows that every sinner, deserves the threatened curse of the law, and renounces expressly all other pleas or confidences, beside free mercy through the righteousness, atonement, and mediation of Emmanuel. Faith unreservedly disavows all attempts to compensate for past sins, to establish a righteousness by any personal obedience or efforts whatever, or to save the soul from deserved and final destruction. Faith gives the Lord credit for his wisdom, justice, and goodness, even where they are not discerned; and by it the self-condemned sinner ventures on his mercy and truth, in the grand concerns of eternity; entrusting the soul into his hands in full credence, confidence, and affiance, as both willing and able "to keep that which is committed to him;" and this in the clearest view of the importance of the case, and the difficulties that lie in the way of salvation. Faith "counts all things but loss," in
comparison of Christ and his salvation: it discovers "the treasure hid in the field," " the Pearl of
great price;" and, convinced that its value is inestimable, with joy "sells all," to secure the advantageous purchase. Faith dreads nothing so much as falling short of that salvation, which unbelievers despise, and to which they prefer the most trifling interest or most worthless indulgence. Faith comes at the Lord's call, uses his appointed means, waits in his way, stays his time, and says under every delay or discouragement, "Lord, to whom shall I go? thou hast the words "of eternal life." These things are essential to faith, be it weaker or stronger; as must be evident to every one who makes the word of God the standard of his judgment. Even in its feeblest form, its first trembling application to Christ, while the distressed sinner cries with tears, "Lord, "I believe, help thou mine unbelief;" it has this nature, and virtually implies all these things: and do not these denote some degree of " a right spirit,” of a holy state of the heart and affections?
The word of God no where mentions two sorts of true faith: but, if the first actings of a sinner's faith in Christ were entirely devoid of holiness, and the subsequent exercises of faith were holy; some distinction of this kind would certainly have been intimated. If it could be proved that saving faith preceded regeneration, and every degree of evangelical repentance; surely no man would suppose, that all the subsequent exercises of faith, till it be swallowed up in vision, result from merely natural principles, or such influences of the Spirit as are entirely distinct from sanctification; and
that they are detached from repentance and all other holy dispositions and affections! And will any experienced Christian deliberately maintain, that the established believer's daily exercise of faith in Christ, for pardon, peace, wisdom, strength, and sanctifying grace, essentially differs from his first coming to him for salvation? We acquire indeed, as we go forward, more distinct acquaintance with our own wants, and with that fulness from which they are supplied: and, at some times, the testimony of our consciences, aided by that of the Spirit of adoption, inspires peculiar confidence in pleading the Lord's promises. But there are times also, when we feel such darkness, sinfulness, and perplexity, that we can only come on the ground of a general invitation; and when the whole of our first experience must be again passed through, as the best, or the only, way of " find'ing rest for our souls." Nor are those humiliating seasons uncommon to most of us; when, "God be merciful to me, a sinner," is of all other prayers most suited to our feelings; and when we come, to our own apprehension, as " 66 poor, "and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked," as when we first "fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us." The degree and order of these experiences, desires, and affections, vary: but the nature of them is precisely the same, whether that be holy or unholy. It is throughout an ignorant helpless child, a criminal, a diseased perishing wretch, applying to an all-merciful and all-powerful Saviour, to be taught, pardoned, cleansed, assisted, protected, relieved, enriched, and completely rescued and
blessed, by free unmerited grace, through the redemption of his blood, the gift of his righteousness, the prevalence of his intercession, and "the "supply of his Spirit." The more simply and humbly this is done, the stronger is the faith exercised; and likewise the greater is the measure of a holy disposition which is manifested, though the person himself may not be conscious of it. The sinner thus exercising faith in Christ, and applying to him continually for the supply of all his numerous wants, deliverance from merited destruction, and the free gift of eternal life; judges and feels concerning himself, his past conduct, his present duties, and his own heart, as he ought to judge and feel. He "thinks soberly of "himself," and " as he ought to think :" and, in proportion the state of his judgment and affections, respecting the perfections, law, and government of God; respecting sin and holiness, this world and the next, Christ and his gospel, and almost every other subject; is rectified, and rendered what it ought to be. This is implied in the very idea of "living by faith in the Son of "God," and is inseparable from it, from the first feeble trembling cry, "Lord save me, I perish!" till the believer, in "full assurance of hope," breathes his last, saying, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit!"
If some of those, who maintain that there is no holiness in saving faith, (at least when first exercised by the convinced sinner,) should be called to converse with a man, whom they had intimately known when a " stout-hearted" self-confident Pharisee; and should find him deploring the wicked
ness of his past life, the hypocrisy of his proud duties, the worthlessness of his present endeavours to repent and seek mercy, and the exceeding deceitfulness of his own heart; should they hear him own that God might justly leave him to perish, and express many trembling apprehensions, lest the Saviour whom he had so long rejected should now reject him, and disregard his feeble defiled prayers: should they witness this scene, would they not be convinced that an alteration for the better had taken place in his mind, and that in proportion as he had more lowly thoughts concerning himself? Would they not be ready to say "What hath God "wrought?" And could they deny that the change was from a wrong to a right state of the heart and affections; or in other words from unholiness to holiness? They would feel, that they ought not to inquire what the man thought of himself; but in what light that God, "whose judgment is ac
cording to truth," viewed his former and his present disposition; and what the scripture has determined concerning it?
The sacred Scriptures distinguish between a living faith, and a dead faith; but not between a legal and an evangelical faith, as many persons now do: and, on this ground alone, we may fairly conclude that this unscriptural distinction was devised to support an unscriptural system. Dead faith credits the doctrines of the gospel, as readily as other parts of revealed truth; and living faith as simply believes the testimony of God concerning the demands and curse of the law, a future judgment, and the wrath to come, as it does the doctrines and promises of the gospel. But, as it has