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into truths by a confident belief of them, and to bind them by his command to perform the strange operation? Far be it from him ! shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
I shall now conclude this general view of the various notions of faith in the professing world, with oblerving, that divine truth is always consistent with itself, and evidence is its inseparable characteristic; whereas falsehood wears many taces, and sets the invention of its propagator upon the rack to cover its hateful appearance with the mask of truth, in order to blind the understanding, fear the conscience, and delude the foul. Whether this appropriation there- .. fore be supported by supposed qualifications—the imaginary deed of gift"--or the courageous act of faith without evidence either from scripture, sense, or reason; it is most certainly, essentially different from believing the record that God has given of his Son.-So that however well pleased any may be, in a full persuasion that they have exerted the appropriating aft, unless more folid evidence of their actual interest in Christ be given; their claim will, in the end, he found miserably deficient.
And though persons may strain every nerve in laboring to believe that their state is good, or to make that true which is not true before they believe it; it will remain an unchanging truth that, he that believeth not (that very gospel which Christ and his Apostles preached) fall be damned.-Seeing then that there is but one faith, and that without it we cannot please God, acceptably worship him, or eternally enjoy him ; and since those various and opposite notions of faith prevailing in the profefsing world, cannot all be right; it follows that there is danger of being deceived: this cautions us to inquire, wherein the very essence of the One FAITH consists; which when known, in obedience to the exhortation, we should contend earnestly, for.
On the FAITH of the Operation of GOD.
HE inquiry in this section is, principally,
wherein the nature of that faith confifts which may with strict propriety be stiled like precious with the Apostles ; and in order to avoid an error in the proposition, and so to prevent stumbling at the threshold, I shall reit fatisfied with such a definition of it as the BiblЕ affords. And surely, when the unerring Spirit of truth condescends to define, and to point out a line of illustration; it manifests much pride and ignorance in any one to swerve from it. Nor is it to be wondered that any who swerve from the scriptural definition, should also err from faith unfeigned, and turn aside to vain jangling.
According to that very accurate divine Paul, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, Heb. xi. 1. Here then we are presented with a full, clear, and comprehenfive definition of gospel faith: that faith which is of the operation of God, and without which we cannot pleafe him.' It confifts of two parts, viz. the truth believed, which is the substance of things hoped for; and the belief of the truth, which is the evidence of things not seen. How plain, how rational, how worthy of the God of intelligence! We read nothing here of the direct, or the reflex acts, nor of making a falfehood truth, by confidently believing it. Here is nothing said of the personal appropriating act, neither is faith and its effects confounded. But I shall proceed to consider a little more particularly, this truly excellent definition of the faith of God's elect, which the inspired Apostle has with plainness and clearness laid before all men.
First : Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The Bible exhibits one harmonious, consistent, beautiful system of truth. The whole of which, in all its
glorious parts, is only a transcript or copy of what was drawn out in the character of Jesus Christ : so that the truth as it is in him, or the doctrine of Christ in the scriptures, of which many fummaries are given, contains the sum or substance of the whole compass of evangelical truth; and the hope which is laid up for the saints in heaven, is heard of in the word of the truth of the gospel, Col. i. 5. which is the substance of what things they expect hereafter, or the substantial foundation of their hope. Faith then, in the first part of the definition under confideration, evidently intends the things to be believed: and that the term is often used in this sense, in things human and divine, will appear by having reference to a few instances. Laws and treaties made and confirmed, betwixt one nation and another, are called the faith of those nations. To preserve them inviolably is called keeping the faith ; and for either party to recede from, or break any of them, is called a breach of faith; and these laws, treaties, &c. are the substantial ground of hope and confidence to each nation. When a person has declared his sentiments upon any point, those things that he has testified of are properly called his creed, or his faith: and it is become very common to denominate such a declaration, a confeffion of faith. If the person profefses his hope of falvation in the things he has held forth, then it is plain, that his faith is the substance of his hope ; and the nature of his hope will be as is. faith is. The term is frequently used in the Bible in this fense, as Rom. iii. 3. Shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? Gal. i. 23. The faith which he once destroyed; and what the apostle preached was Jesus Christ and him crucified. In this sense it is used Gal. iii. 2. 5. 12. 23. 25. and nothing but the doctrine of Christ, which, by the writings of the prophets and apostles were delivered to them, could be intended when Jude v. 3. exhorts to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the faints.
Calvin in his Inftit. B. 3. chap. 2. § 13. observes that, “ Oftentimes faith signifies the sound doctrine of religion, as in the place that we now alledge. (1. Tim. i. 5) And in the same epistle Paul will have the deacons to hold fast the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.--Again, when he publisheth the falling away of certain from the faith. But on the other side he faith, Timothy was nourished up with the words of faith. Again, where he faith that profane vanities and oppositions, falsely named sciences, are the cause that many depart from the faith : whom in another place he calleth reprobate touching faith. As ayain he chargeth Titus saying, warn them that they may be found in the faith. [By soundness he meaneth nothing else but purity of doctrine, which is easily corrupted, and brought out of kind by the lightness of men] Even because in Christ, whom faith poffeffeth, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Therefore faith is worthily extended to signify the whole sum of heavenly doctrine from which it cannot be separated.” +
There are many things spoken of in the sacred writings concerning faith, that must be understood in the above sense. As first : our resurrection from a death in trespasses and fins, Col. ii. 12. This cannot intend any act of the human mind, under any influence whatever, for, of his own will begat he us by the word of truth. Faith in this sense comes by hearing the word of God. But this shows how faith comes to us; not how we approach to it. Our ears are not previously disposed to hearken : but the
+ One would think, that ile greater part of those who call themselves Calvinists, are Mamefully deficient in knowing where. in Calvin's doctrine consists; or should we find them maintain. ing the notion of faith being in the heart before we understand, receive, or even hear tlie word of God? But it has happened to Calvinism, as it has long been with Christianity :-many are found of the naine, for the sake of credit, reputation, and interest, who yet are as ignorant of the doctrine, and as far from following the practices of the first Christians as an idolatrous Pagan,
almi hty voice of the Son of God goes forth and unstops the deaf ears, Even as he once said, to one literally deaf. Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened. But this sentiment has been considered in the former Effay.
Again: it is faith taken in this sense, that is the matter of justification before God, and in the finner's conscience. No fact comes better established in the word of God, than that the matter of a finner's juftification, is the righteousness of Christ imputed. It is established firm as Jehovah's throne ; nor can the deepest subtilties of hell move it. Yet we are expressly said to be justified by faith, Rom. v. 1. chap. iv. 3-9. and the divinity of men would teach us, tho' nothing can be more palpably absurd and dangerous, that faith justifies us as an instrument : and many by acting faith, as an instrument to their justification, are insensibly led, upon many occasions, to substitute these acis of faith, in the place of those divine acts which wrought out the all-sufficient righteousness. But if it be faith, as an instrument, that Abraham is said to be justified by, then it would seem that it is by the instrumentality of Abraham's faith that all his secd are justified ! For it is the very fame thing that justifies him, and his children, fee Rom. iv. 3.-8. compared with verses 22-25. To the same signification are the following scriptures, Rom. iii. 38. Gal. ii. 16. Chap. iii. 24. It is what the finner believes then, or the work of Christ alone, separate from all its effects, or fruits that justifies. It has been very common to use the
juftifying faith,” and “ saving faith," And it is to be hoped many use them, without connecting any erroneous sentiment therewith. Yet it is plain others would be understood, that it is some peculiar fort or manner of believing that juftifies. But if the heartiness, feriousness, or fincerity of our believing, have any influence whatever in our justification, it cannot be said to be freely by grace thro' the redemption which is in Jesus,