Page images
PDF
EPUB

great love, free favor and boundless compasion, it is discovered in the incarnation, life, fufferings, and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom grace and truth came.

If we speak of grace as a doctrine, then it is the word of truth, revealing, cxplaining, and proclaiming the nature, end, and design of Christ's work, as the Surety of his people. And if we take the term to signify that vital principle, by which we are partakers of spiritual life, it is the doctrine of Christ implanted in the underítanding, poftcsing the wilt and influencing the affections and conversation : and to conforming the foul to Christ, which was the very end of being cholen in him before the foundation of the world,

I shall close this Ejay, with the remarkable words of Dr. Owen, which may be considered as an epitome of the whole. “ As the word is in the gospel, fo is grace in the heart; yea they are the same things variously expressed, Rom. vi. 17, as our translation doth not, so I know not how, in fo few words, to express that which is cinphatically here insinuated by the Holy Ghost. The meaning is, that the doctrine of th: gospel begets the form, figure, imag-, or likeness of itfelf, in the hearts of then that believe : so they are caft into the mould of it. As is in the one, so is the other. The principle of grace in the heart, and that in the word, are as children of the fame parent compleatly resembling and representing one another. Grace is a living world, and the word is figured, limned grace. As we have heard, fo have we seen and found it; such a foul can produce the duplicate of the word and so adjust all things thereby. The first originai expression of divine truth is not in the word, no not as given out from the infinite abyss of divinc wisdom and veracity, but it is first hid, said up, and exprefsed in the person of Christ. He is the first pattern of truch, which from him is expressed in the word, and from, and by the word impressed on the hearts of believers; so that as it hath pleafed God that all the

treasiois

G 3

Col. ii. 3.

treasures of wisdom and knowledge should be in him, dwell in him, have their principal residence in him,

So the whole word is but a revelation of the Truth in Chrift, or an expreffion of his image and likeness to the fons of men. Thus we are said to learn the truth as it is in Jesus, Eph. iv. 21. It is in Jejus originally, and really, and from him it is communicated unto us by the word. We are thereby taught, and do learn it, for thereby, as the apostle proceeds, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and do put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness, and true holiness, ver. 23, 24. First, the truth is in Jesus ; then it is expressed in the word ; this word, learned, and believed, becomes grace in the heart, every way answering unto the Lord Christ his image, from whom this transforming truth did thus proceed. 'Nay, this is carried by the apoftle yet higher, namely, unto God the Father himself, whose image Christ is, and believers his, through the word, 2 Cor. iii. 18. " We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord,” whereunto add, chap iv. 6. “ God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Chrift.' The first pattern or exam. ple of all truth and holiness is God himself : hereof Christ is the image, ver. 4. Christ is the image of God, " The brightness of his glory and the express image of his perion,” Heb. i. 3: “ The image of the invisible God; Col. i. 15. Hence we are faid to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Chrift; because he, being his image, the love, grace, and truth of the Father are represented and made conspicuous in him. For we are said to behold it in his face, because of the open and illufirious manifestation of the glory of God in him. And how do we behold this glory? in a glass (as in a glass) that is in

the

the gospel, which hath the image and likeness of Chriit, who is the image of God, reflected upon it, and communicated unto it. So have we traced truth, and grace, from the person of the Father, unto the Son as Mediator, and thence transfused it into the word. In the Father it is essentially ; in Jesus Christ originally and exemplarily; and in the word as in a transcript or copy. But doth it abide there ? No, God by the word of the gospel shines into our hearts. He irradiates our minds with a saving light into it, and apprehension of it. And what thence ensues ? the soul of a believer is changed into the same image, by the effectual working of the Holy Ghoft, chap. iii

. 18. that is, the likeness of Christ implanted on the word, is impressed on the soul itself, whereby it is renewed into the image of God, whereunto it was at first created. This brings all into perfect har. . mony.'

* See Dr. Owen on the 13oth Pfalm, p. 168–170.

" *

E SSS A Y . II.

On the NATURE of FAIT H.

-ONE FAITH. Eph. iv. 5.

INTRODUCTION.

I

T has much prevailed as a fashionable sentiment,

though it displays great ignorance of human wretchedness, and the vast extent of the holy law, that if we walk before God according to that light which is afforded us, either by nature, or religious instruction ; our services will be pleasing to God, and without doubt we shall be happy with him for ever, From hence it has been argued, that if it be

true

true that man can please God here, and enjoy him hereafter, by doing the best he can, there can be no necessity for him to trouble himself about those matters of opinion, about which even the wise, the learned, and the religious are so much divided. Yea it has been thought that an attention to those things has been the grand cause of the present glaring de. clension in PIETY. But surely such are not aware, that this sentiment is immediately opposed, and effectually overthrown by the unerring word of God, which declares that without FAITH it is impossible to Please him: and also that there is no acceptable worship without it; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently jeck him. Which includes, not only a belief that there is a God, which the devils believe and fremble af, but that he is such an one as the scripiures represent him to be. To form ideas of the great God contrary to his true character, and to worship him according to our own false imaginations; is to worship we know not what; is to worship, in fact, an imaginary god. All such worship, therefore, although attended with the formalities of invocation, adoration, confeffion, petition, fupplication, dedication, &c. and with the most animated harangues, about the excellencies of virtue, and the extensive rewards of piety, or even of the happiness and comfort of the people of God, is not only unprofitable, being unmixed with faith, but odious and abominable in the fight of God. Ifaiah Ixvi. 3; 4. Rom. xiv. 23. Psalm l. 21.

Again i tiue holiness, whether of heart or conversation, cannot pofiibly be without faith, for in seality faith is the grand fource from whence it flows, Such is the infeparable connection betwixt faith and fanctification, that where works do not appear, faith is dead; and where faith does not dwell, works are dead allo. Works, therefore, without faith in Christ, however splendid, are of no account at all in the light of God; and the heart not being purified by faith, being naturally polluted, cannot but bring forth corrupt fruits, even as a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.

Further : faith is effentially necessary to salvation. The scripture teaches us, that there is no other name given under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved, but the sacred name of Jesus Christ, and most folemnly avers, He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God, John iii. 18-36; and notwithstanding the most decent appearance among men, unbelievers are ranked in that black list of characters, that are excluded the kingdom of heaven. , Luke xii. 46, Rev, xvi. 8.

The necessity and importance of proceeding with the greatest care, in our inquiries about faith, will appear, if we add to the above considerations, that all men have not faith--that there is such a thing as a dead faith-a feigned faith, &c.--that, in reality, there is but one faith that will profit the soul. Yet if we attend to the prevailing cavils in the profeffing world about faith, it will not be wondered at, that men of sense, who have not the fear of God before their eyes, reject every system of religion as a mere farce, or that deism ihould so much prevail in our day. For while they behold that faith, which is in general acknowledged essential to salvation, made inatter of doubtful disputation; by some made anything, by others nothing; by a third class every thing, and by a fourth worse than nothing, they cannot think that all are right; nor can they ihink it consistent to suppose, that the God of nature, the fountain of all intelligence, would give a revelation to his creatures that was altogether unintelligible ; and if persons were not led more by fashion and custom (for it is become rather indecent to be of no religion) in their religious profession, than solid reflec

« PreviousContinue »