« PreviousContinue »
mise of Jesus Christ upon Noah, and his sons, in the 9th chapter of Genesis, in the very language, and words of the Adamic blessing. This further proves that man, since the fall, as he was certainly before, is in a state of probation. In the times of ignorance, and idolatry, before the advent of the son of righteousness, God winked at, but since that time, he commandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, of which he hath offered faith unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
The nature, and causes of Faith, considered.
The Deity never has mistaken his designs, nor miscon. veived the means which were necessary for the ends he proposed; he has done nothing in vain, nor any thing unnecessarily. To the Christian Philosopher, the perfect fitness that exists in the economy of nature between its different parts in the chain of causation for regular results, has ever formed an occasion for just wonder, and admiration; and has correspondently reflected honour, and glory, and wisdom, upon the great creator. The work of redemption exhibits a still more glorious manifestation of the perfections of Jehovah than that of creation. The light of life, and immortality, by its superior effulgence, casts a deep shade around the most luminous displays in nature. The bond of union which connects a worm of the dust to the throne of God, and redeems him from a state of sin, and death, to a state of purity, and immortality is one of the most glorious works of the Almighty. Into this stupendous, plan of wis. dom, and mercy the angels of heaven bave desired to penetrate: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not per ish but have everlasting life.”
I now proceed to investigate the means by which this belief in the Son of God is produced; and here let me premise, that they are the very same which were employed by Christ, and the Apostles--of the same divine character, consisting in the same supernatural matters of fact, explained by the same words, and exhibited to the mind in the same intelligible terms. This faith differs from every oth er description of belief, as much as the objects, and the ev. idence (which are divine and supernatural) differ from natural ones; and the mind possessed of this faith, differs aš much in its ideas, and knowledge; in its prospects, and en joyments, from one which is only informed upon temporal concerns as the ravishing glories of heaven, and the sure prospect of their enjoyment differ from the low, and sordid pursuits of earthly, and perishable objets. The mind possessed of the faith of the Gospel, is the same mind, identified by the same faculties, and powers, which it was before it believed. Faith is the evidence, or full assurance of things not seen it is the belief of divine, and supernatural propositions by divine, and supernatural proof-it embraces things of this character which have past, are present, and are to come. The objects of this faith are exclusively those which have been revealed by a supernatural light from heaven, without which they could not have been known; and the proof by which their truth is established is of the same origin, and character; and without which they could not be believed. I will give some examples of the different objects which faith embraces, of those things which have been, of those which now are, and of those which are to come. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed, or produced by the word, or command of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear; God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Soni to redeem the world, &c. The present views of faith are such as the following:---Jesus Christ, the divine Saviour, in our nature glorified, is exalted by the right hand of God a Prince, and a Saviour to grant repentance, and remission of sins--that the government is on his shoulders, and that the present heavens, and earth, by the same Word who created them, are kept in store, or treasured up, being reserved for
fire against the day of judgment, and destruction of ungodly men, The future views of faith are, the day of judgment, the happy immortality which will then be conferred on the righteous, and the destruction that will cover ungodly men, &c.
Hope is the consequence of the gracious situation of the ereature to whom by the revelation's of God, good things are promised, and which are as necessarily seen by faith, as at is by faith we know that the worlds were made, that angels fell, that Immanuel died, &c. Were it only revealed to man that the blackness of darkness is reserved for him forever, being kept for fire against a day of destruction, it would be by faith that this dreadful end is seen; and as such a revelation contains no promise of good things, there could be no hope; consequently this faith (which embraces no proposition of grace, as the terms in which it was made contain none,) would be the faith of despair=it would be the faith of a devil man would believe, and tremble. Faith is the evidence or confidence of things not seen. The word in the Greek, which stands for evidence, denotes a strict proof or demonstration, a proof which thorougly convinces the understanding, and determines the will. The Apostle's meaning is, that faith answers all the purposes of a demonstration, because, being founded on the veracity, and power of God, these perfections are complete evidence of the things which God declares have happened, or are to happen, however much they may be out of the ordinary course of nature, or contrary to it. I have observed that faith is the belief of supernatural or spiritual things,(which things themselves are revealed) by supernatural or divine testimony. Our Saviour said that he would not “receive the testimony of John, than whom a greater prophet had not been born of a woman; although John bear witness of the truth: there is another (that is, the Holy Ghost,) that beareth witness of me, and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. I have a greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to furnish the same works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me. The Fa. ther himself which hath sent me hath borne witness of me."
The nature, and character of the means of faith áre'implied in
117 from the dead. After the Saviour arose, and indeed before his death, he most solemnly elected the disciples to bear witness of him; promising also the Holy Ghost to testify with them, that he was the Saviour of the world; assuring them that the Holy Ghost should bring all the things to their remembrance whatsoever he had told them, and teach them things to come, that he should take the things of Christ, and shew them unto them. Accordingly, in the first chapter of Acts, we find the inspired historian taking up the narrative from the time that Jesus Christ was taken up; and whom he says, after that, through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the Apostles whom he had chosen, to whom al. so he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God; telling them not to depart from Jerusalem until they should receive power from on high, which should be after that the Holy Ghost is come upon them. “He said, ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld him, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ve gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye.
have seen him
into heaven.” Some days after, the Holy Ghost was poured out, as it had been promised in the prophecies of Joel, consisting in a noise like a rushing mighty wind, which filled all the house where the one hundred, and twenty disciples were sitting, and there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the spirit gave them utterance, by which the devout Jews, who were from every nation under heaven, were amazed, and in doubt, but Peter got up, and testified also, and told them that Jesus, God had raised up, whereof we are all wit- . nesses; therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy