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into truths by a confident belief of them, and to bind them by his command to perform the ftrange operation? Far be it from him! shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

I fhall now conclude this general view of the various notions of faith in the profeffing world, with obferving, that divine truth is always confiftent with itself, and evidence is its infeparable characteristic; whereas falfehood wears many taces, and fets 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 confcience, and delude the foul. Whether this appropriation therefore be fupported by fuppofed qualifications-the imaginary deed of gift"-or the courageous act of faith without evidence either from fcripture, fenfe, or reafon; it is moft certainly, effentially different from believing the record that God has given of his Son. So that however well pleafed any may be, in a full perfuafion that they have exerted the appropriating act, unless more folid evidence of their actual intereft in Chrift be given; their claim will, in the end, be found miferably deficient. And though perfons may ftrain every nerve in laboring to believe that their ftate 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 gofpel which Chrift and his Apoftles preached) hall 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 fince those various and oppofite notions of faith prevailing in the profeffing world, cannot all be right; it follows that there is danger of being deceived: this cautions us to inquire, wherein the very effence of the ONE FAITH confifts; which when known, in obedience to the exhortation, we fhould contend earnestly for.

SECTION

SECTION

II.

On the FAITH of the Operation of GOD.

T

HE inquiry in this Section is, principally, wherein the nature of that faith confifts which may with ftrict propriety be ftiled like precious with the Apoftles; and in order to avoid an error in the propofition, and fo to prevent ftumbling at the threshold, I fhall reft fatisfied with fuch a definition of it as the BIBLE affords. And furely, when the unerring Spirit of truth condefcends to define, and to point out a line of illustration; it manifefts much pride and ignorance in any one to fwerve from it. Nor is it to be wondered that any who fwerve from the fcriptural definition, fhould alfo err from faith unfeigned, and turn aside to vain jangling.

According to that very accurate divine PAUL, Faith is the fubftance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not feen, Heb. xi. 1. Here then we are prefented with a full, clear, and comprehenfive definition of gospel faith that faith which is of the operation of God, and without which we cannot please him. It confifts of two parts, viz. the truth believed, which is the fubftance of things hoped for; and the belief of the truth, which is the evidence of things not feen. 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 faid of the perfonal appropriating act, neither is faith and its effects confounded.-But I fhall proceed to confider a little more particularly, this truly excellent definition of the faith of God's elect, which the infpired Apoftle has with plainnefs and clearness laid before all men.

First: Faith is the fubftance of things hoped for. The Bible exhibits one harmonious, confiftent, beautiful fyftem of truth. The whole of which, in all its

glorious

glorious parts, is only a tranfcript or copy of what was drawn out in the character of Jefus Chrift: fo that the truth as it is in him, or the doctrine of Christ in the fcriptures, of which many fummaries are given, contains the fum or fubftance of the whole compafs of evangelical truth; and the hope which is laid up for the faints in heaven, is heard of in the word of the truth of the gofpel, Col. i. 5. which is the fubftance of what things they expect hereafter, or the fubftantial 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 fenfe, in things human and divine, will appear by having reference to a few inftances. Laws and treaties made and confirmed, betwixt one nation and another, are called the faith of those nations. To preferve 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 thefe laws, treaties, &c. are the fubftantial ground of hope and confidence to each nation. When a person has declared his fentiments upon any point, those things that he has teftified of are properly called his creed, or his faith: and it is become very common to denominate fuch a declaration, a confeffion of faith. if the perfon profeffes his hope of falvation in the things he has held forth, then it is plain, that his faith is the fubftance of his hope; and the nature of his hope will be as is faith is. The term is frequently ufed in the Bible. in this fenfe, as Rom. iii. 3. Shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? Gal. i. 23. The faith which he once deftroyed; and what the apoftle preached was Jefus Chrift and him crucified. In this fenfe it is ufed Gal. iii. 2. 5. 12. 23. 25. and nothing but the doctrine of Chrift, which, by the writings of the prophets and apoftles were delivered to them, could be intended when Jude v. 3. exhorts to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the faints.

Calvin

Calvin in his Inftit. B. 3. chap. 2. § 13. obferves that, "Oftentimes faith fignifies the found doctrine of religion, as in the place that we now alledge. (1. Tim. i. 5) And in the fame epiftle Paul will have the deacons to hold fast the mystery of the faith in a pure confcience.-Again, when he publifheth the falling away of certain from the faith. But on the other fide he faith, Timothy was nourished up with the words of faith. Again, where he faith that profane vanities and oppofitions, falfely named fciences, are the caufe that many depart from the faith whom in another place he calleth reprobate touching faith. As again he chargeth Titus faying, warn them that they may be found in the faith. [By foundness he meaneth nothing elfe but purity of doctrine, which is eafily corrupted, and brought out of kind by the lightness of men] Even because in Chrift, whom faith poffeffeth, are hidden all the treasures of wifdom and knowledge. Therefore faith is worthily extended to fignify the whole fum of heavenly doctrine from which it cannot be separated." +

There are many things fpoken of in the facred writings concerning faith, that must be understood in the above fenfe. As firft our refurrection from a death in trefpaffes 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 fenfe comes by hearing the word of God. But this fhows how faith comes to us; not how we approach to it. Our ears are not previously difpofed to hearken: but the

almighty

One would think, that the greater part of those who call themfelves Calvinifts, are fhamefully deficient in knowing wherein Calvin's doctrine confifts; or fhould we find them maintaining the notion of faith being in the heart before we understand, receive, or even hear the word of God? But it has happened to Calvinism, as it has long been with Christianity:—many are found of the name, for the fake of credit, reputation, and interest, who yet are as ignorant of the doctrine, and as far from following the practices of the first Chriftians as an idolatrous Pagan.

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almighty voice of the Son of God goes forth and unftops the deaf ears. Even as he once faid, to one literally deaf. Be opened. And ftraightway his ears were opened. But this fentiment has been confidered in the former Effay.

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Again: it is faith taken in this fenfe, that is the matter of juftification before God, and in the finner's confcience. No fact comes better eftablished in the word of God, than that the matter of a finner's juftification, is the righteousness of Chrift imputed. It is eftablished firm as Jehovah's throne; nor can the deepeft fubtilties of hell move it. Yet we are exprefsly faid 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 abfurd and dangerous, that faith juftifies us as an inftrument and many by acting faith, as an inftrument to their juftification, are infenfibly led, upon many occafions, to fubftitute these acts of faith, in the place of thofe divine acts which wrought out the all-fufficient righteoufnefs. But if it be faith, as an inftrument, that Abraham is faid to be juftified by, then it would feem that it is by the inftrumentality of Abraham's faith that all his feed are juftified! For it is the very fame thing that justifies him, and his children, fee Rom. iv. 3-8. compared with verfes 22-25. To the fame fignification are the following fcriptures, Rom. iii. 38. Gal. ii. 16. Chap. iii. 24. It is what the finner believes then, or the work of Chrift alone, feparate from all its effects, or fruits that juftifies. It has been very common very common to use the phrases" juftifying faith," and "faving faith," And it is to be hoped many use them, without connecting any erroneous fentiment therewith. Yet it is plain others would be understood, that it is fome peculiar fort or manner of believing that juftifies. But if the heartinefs, feriousness, or fincerity of our believing, have any influence whatever in our justification, it cannot be faid to be freely by grace thro' the redemption which is in Jefus. Further:

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