« السابقةمتابعة »
perfectly coincide. The "new creature" exercises "faith that worketh by love;" and "this is the "love of God that we keep his commandments, "and his commandments are not grievous."
He," says the divine Saviour, " that hath my "commandments, and keepeth them; he it is "that loveth me." "Ye are my friends, if ye do "whatsoever I command " and "this is my "commandment, that ye love one another as I "have loved you." And St. John says, "This "commandment have we from him, that he who "loveth God love his brother also."
If St. James says, "Faith without works is "dead;" St. Paul plainly teaches that no faith availeth, except that "which worketh by love.” And, when the former inquires, "Was not Abra"ham our father justified by works, when he had "offered Isaac his son upon the altar?" he answers his own question by adding, "Seest thou how "faith wrought by his works, and by works was "faith made perfect; and the scripture was ful"filled which saith, Abraham believed God, and "it was accounted to him for righteousness, and "he was called the friend of God."*
The question to be resolved in the decision of every man's doom at the day of judgment, according to numerous scriptures, must be this, Was 'he a believer in Christ or not?' If any one profess faith in Christ, it will be inquired, whether 'his faith were living or dead? whether or not it wrought by love of Christ, and of his brethren 'for Christ's sake?' As a man's actions, when the
James ii. 14-26.
whole shall be disclosed, determine this point, so will his sentence be: while the degree of the un believer's guilt will fix the measure of his punishment; and the believer will be graciously recompensed in proportion to his fruitfulness. This seems to clucidate and harmonize all the representations given us of this infinitely momentous concern. The holy judge himself has solemnly warned his professed disciples on this all-important subject, when with unspeakable dignity he declares, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, "shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he "that doeth the will of my Father which is in "heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in "name? and in thy name have cast out devils ? "and in thy name done many wonderful works? " and then will I profess unto you, I never knew
you, Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of "mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a "wise man, which built his house upon a rock: "and the rain descended, and the floods came, "and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, " and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. "And every one that heareth these sayings of "mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto "a foolish man which built his house upon the "sand: and the rain descended, and the floods "came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that "house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." "The wise man" doubtless is the true Christian; his faith is living and obedient; thus he builds aright on the only sure foundation, and raises a
permanent structure, which all the storms of life and death shall assail in vain. But many "fool"ish men," professing to build on the tried foundation which God has laid, are either misled by erring guides, or mistake the instructions and slight the warnings of "wise master-builders:" thus they deceive themselves with notions, and with a dead faith; their presumptuous confidence and disobedient profession will make way for the awful fall of their fair but baseless edifice, in the great decisive day; and unutterable astonishment, anguish, and despair will seize upon them, when the frowning Judge shall leave them speechless, while with an awful frown he will say, "I never "knew you: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity."
Whether therefore, we consider the author and origin of saving faith, its invariable attendants, its essential nature, or its distinguishing effects, we find unanswerable proof that it is a holy exercise of the rational soul; that it has its especial seat in the heart; that it receives the light of heavenly truth in holy love; and that it employs that light to invigorate and call forth into action all spiritual affections, and to render the believer "holy in all manner of conversation." But, if each view of saving faith, considered separately, demonstrate its holy nature, how powerful and overbearing is the evidence, when we collect all these converging rays into one focus, and estimate the force of these several arguments united together! If this do not convince the reader, but he will, yet contend that justifying faith is the mere assent of the understanding partially en
lightened, and the reluctant consent of an unhumbled unholy heart, as terrified by the report of vengeance, to sue for mercy of which it feels no real need; and yet that this selfish unholy faith sanctifies the soul, and produces most excellent fruit in the life! or that true faith is neither the one, nor the other of these, but something between that can neither be defined nor described; he must retain his opinion, and be left as inaccessible to argument. Some may indeed question, whether he do not verge to the honest but absurd exclamation of an ancient zealot, Credo, quia impossibile est:' (I believe, because it is impossible :) and, whatever favourable opinion we may form of his heart, we must again affirm that it is impossible for him to " give a reason of the hope "that is in him."-But if any one, allowing in general the truth of those things which have been stated concerning saving faith, should yet feel some hesitation about the use of the word holy in this connexion; the author will hold no controversy with him on this point. Provided the essential and unspeakably important distinction between living and dead faith were unreservedly allowed, and given its due prominence in the views and discourses of Christians and ministers; the rest would be in great measure a verbal controversy, from which every wise man would turn to more pleasant and profitable employments.
ASSIGNED FOR INSISTING ON THE HOLY
NATURE OF SAVING FAITH.
It may probably be inquired by the reader, why we bestow so much pains to prove the holy nature of saving faith; seeing we allow that the sinner makes no use of this holiness as an encouragement, and indeed seldom notices it, in his first applications to Christ for salvation? To this question I would answer,
I. It is in order to induce Christians, and especially ministers, to use the scriptural method of preventing men from deceiving themselves. It will be found at the great decisive day, that nothing has more conduced to quiet nominal Christians in impenitence and unbelief, than a groundless persuasion that they do indeed repent and believe. The laboured arguments, therefore, of the preceding pages are not so much intended for the use of newly awakened persons, as for more established Christians; and especially for those who, by office or in charity, instruct and converse frequently with persons thus circumstanced. Indeed discussions on such topics cannot be fully understood, except by those "who by reason of use have their senses exercised to "discern good and evil :" and of course they are generally improper for the "new-born babe." But the instructions publicly or privately given to inquirers, will accord to the sentiments and judg