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before been observed, dead faith is merely an assent to certain opinions as true, without a cordial approbation of them as holy, just, good, suitable, and valuable, with reference to a man's own character, conduct, and situation. It is therefore either wholly inefficacious; (for being destitute of spiritual life it has no efficacy to excite spiritual affections, much less to produce them; and can only work by natural principles :) or it gives rise to slavish terrors connected with enmity, and sometimes terminating in blasphemous despair; (as "the devils also believe and tremble:") or it abuses divine truth by presumptuous confidence, and excites selfish affections, without repentance, love, and holy obedience, like those of the Israelites when they saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore, as they are described by the Psalmist : "Then believed they his word; they sang his

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praise. They soon forgat his works, and would "not abide his counsel; but lusted exceedingly in "the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert."* According to our Lord's words, converts of this description" have no root in themselves, but for a "while believe, and in time of temptation fall

away." And he teaches us how to address unproved professors of the gospel, by his own example as recorded by the evangelist: "As he spake these "words many believed on him. Then said Jesus "to those Jews which believed on him, If ye con"tinue in my word, then are ye my disciples in"deed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth "shall make you free."

But living faith is an active principle in a soul ↑ John viii. 30-32.

* Psalm evi. 12-14.

alive to God: it receives the truth in love, and is permanently and spiritually operative upon the understanding, will, and affections. A dead corpse may have every limb, organ, and vessel, in exact order and proportion: while a living man may want an eye, a leg, or a hand, or be otherwise mutilated, defective, or ill proportioned. True faith therefore cannot be known by the doctrines believed, as the distinction between legal and evangelical faith seems to suppose; but by the manner in which they are believed. Many, who in a certain way credit the whole gospel, are hypocrites and dead in sin: while others, whose creed is very defective, disproportioned, and in some respects erroneous, are sincere Christians, and partakers of divine life. Perhaps they are out of the way of systematical, or even solid, instruction; or they are not yet freed from prejudices, through which they cannot receive some parts of divine truth; or they are "babes in Christ," who " feed on milk," and being "unskilful in the word of righteousness" cannot digest" strong meat :" yet their faith is living, and effectually influences their conduct; their imperfect views of truth are humbling, sanctifying, and transforming; and they are gradually, by searching the scriptures and praying for divine illumination, "growing in grace and in the knowledge of our "Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

When the apostle had said, Without faith it is "impossible to please God;" he added, " for he "that cometh to God must believe that he is, and "that he is the rewarder of them that diligently "seek him."* I apprehend the reason he assigns

Heb. xi. 6.

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for his universal proposition is not very satisfactory to many persons, who very steadily maintain the proposition itself; but it accords well to the views given in this publication. A general belief concerning the existence and perfections of the one living and true God, and his merciful readiness to accept, and even reward, those that diligently "seek him," notwithstanding past offences and present sinfulnesss, has been and is essentially necessary, under every dispensation, and in all possible circumstances, to encourage and incline men to "come to God;" and it forms the lowest degree and exercise of faith that can be conceived. But many, we may warrantably conclude, have pleased God," in seeking him as just and merciful, on the ground of revelation, written, or handed down to them by oral tradition, without explicit faith in Christ, or a clear knowledge of the plan of salvation.


Faith, even in that indistinct and incipient exercise which has been described, receives with cordial approbation many of those truths, against which the proud and carnal heart rises with disgust and indignation, or which it perverts to the vilest purposes. It consents to them on the ground of divine revelation, though they are contrary to man's vain imaginations and proud reasonings; and it practically uses them in various instances which run counter to worldly interest, reputation, indulgence, and natural inclination. Even this must require a state of the heart far above the propensities of fallen man, and contrary to his alienation from God, and whatever bears the stamp of his holiness. But, when further illumination has

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led the believer to a more explicit knowledge of Christ, and to receive him for all the purposes of salvation, his faith is an exercise of the soul peculiarly humble, submissive, obedient, and expressive of unreserved reconciliation to God; and it contains almost as much genuine holiness in its nature, as any thing of which we are capable in this state of imperfection.

It is generally and justly agreed, that all the graces of the Spirit have a near affinity, and intimate co-existence, a mutual subserviency, and inseparable connexion: like the several colours of the sun-beams, which, though seen distinct in the prism and the rainbow, yet so coalesce, and blend together, as to form a pure and beautiful whiteness. Thus the love of God cannot subsist in that heart which is totally destitute of faith; or faith in the heart which is at enmity with God. True repentance is believing repentance; true faith is penitent faith; reverential fear cannot exist without love; holy love of God implies reverence, and fear of dishonouring and offending him: and an earnest desire that the Lord should be reconciled to us, and receive us into his favour according to the gospel, implies an incipient disposition to be reconciled to him, to his character, government, commandments, and service. And hence it is that the approved character is described in scripture, sometimes by one and sometimes by another of these holy dispositions: but we must not on that ground conclude, that they exist separately; but on the contrary, that where one is there all are found.

It has before been observed, that by faith in

Christ, is not here meant, a confidence that Christ and his salvation belong to me in particular, without any regard to the state of my heart, or my real character at present in the sight of God.' Such a confidence may indeed be altogether unholy; and it is generally the selfish presumption of an unhumbled carnal heart, aided by an unfeeling or erroneous conscience, and acquired by the belief of an unscriptural representation of the gospel.

Divine faith must be grounded on the word of God; but no man's name is inserted in scripture, as names are in grants and wills; to which the engagements and promises of the new covenant are sometimes compared. In order therefore to be assured that I am the person to whom the promised blessings belong, I must inquire whether my case and character accord with those described in the promises. Now these are not made to sinners as such, but to saints; to those that "fear "the Lord," and " tremble at his word;" to "the

contrite," the "broken-hearted," the "mourn"ers;" to those who "trust in the Lord," "call " upon him," "follow after righteousness,' ""know "the Lord," "love God," "do his will," and "hearken to the voice of his servants;" to "the

meck, the merciful, the pure in heart, those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, and such "as are persecuted for righteousness' sake." In short, the promises are made to those who truly believe; for faith is the radical principle of all holy dispositions. As far therefore as we are conscious that our experience, desires, pursuits, habitual aim and character correspond to these dispositions and affections; we may be sure that the covenanted

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