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to us the great truths which are to govern our practice.
The Christian needs to go no farther, than to the Bible itself, to find evidence of its divinity. If we only receive it with the regard due to common his tory, we must believe, that there were such persons as Jesus and his apostles, and that they performed very wonderful works. If they performed such works, they were sent of God; and if they were sent of God, the doctrines which they taught are to be believed; and the rules of life, which they gave, are to be obeyed. The purity, harmo ny, benevolent design and useful tendency of these doctrines and precepts, afford additional evidence for the confirmation of our faith.
The faith of a Christian must not stop in a ra.
tional conviction of the divine authority of the scriptures; nor in a just apprehension of the sense and meaning of them. It must go farther. It must regard the system of religion there taught, as excellent and important; and yield a full and un. reserved consent to it. That only is true faith, which has a practical influence. The apostle says to the Thessalonians, "The word, which ye heard of us, ye received, not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in you which believe." He commends them "for their work of faith and their labour of love." That is faith, which gives the doctrines of the gospel their proper operation en the heart and life. If we acknowledge the gospel to be true, on a rational conviction of the sufficieney of its evidence, and yet treat it as if it were false; if we own Christ as a Saviour, and yet make no application to him, and place no dependence on him for salvation; if we profess the doctrines which he has taught, and yet are wholly uninfluenced by them in our conduct; if we commend his precepts
as excellent, and yet live in opposition to them; our faith is only speculation, and our speculative faith is practical unbelief. But if we so receive the gospel, that it effectually works in us, casts, down imaginations, and every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God, a d brings into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; then our faith is such as the gospel re quires.
If the gospel is true, it must be infinitely impor tant. To receive it with indifference, is to treat it with contempt. To despise it is to expose our selves to that wonderful destruction, which it re yeals from heaven against them who hold the truth in unrighteousness. If to disbelieve the gospel against all the evidence which attends it, discovers perverseness of heart; what stupidity, what ob stinacy, what mad ess do they discover, who profess to believe it, and yet live in direct opposition to it!
It is only the influential, the practical faith, which is worthy of the name.
This brings us to observe,
V. That to this faith is annexed eternal life, "These things are written, that ye might believe, and that believing ye might have life through Christ's name."
The gospel considers mankind as a guilty race, under condemnation to everlasting death. To redeem them from death, and bring them to the hope of immortality here, and the enjoyment of it here. after, was the great end for which Christ appeared on earth. To accomplish this design, he not only lived among men, wrought miracles, and went about teaching, and doing good; but suffered death, revived, and entered into glory. Eternal life, therefore, comes to us in his name; and our faith, and hope must regard him in the character of
„Veiq 411 DUMUTINO 2 5 1.
a Saïvour and Redeemer. If we have life through his name, our faith must be in his name. The apostle Peter says, "We are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, who was ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for us, who by him do believe in God that raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God." Faith entitles us to 'eternal life. "Believing we have life through his name." But the faith to which this mighty privilege is annexed, is such as we have already described; a faith which effectually works in us. To no other faith do we find the promise of life made. To know, therefore, whether we have life through the name of Christ, we must inquire, whether we have purified our hearts by obeying the truth; whether the spirit and temper of the gospel is formed in us; whether we are created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has ordained that we should walk in them.
How wonderful is the grace of God, in making such preparation for our faith and happiness! A Saviour has been sent from heaven, the most stupend ous miracles have been wrought, the most sublime and glorious doctrines have been delivered, these have been written, the writings have been preserved and conveyed to us, that we might believe, and that believing, we might have eternal life. How great is the perverseness of men, that they should need such mighty efforts of divine power to bring them to believe! How amazing is the perverseness of those who remain in unbelief and disobedience against all these efforts of God's grace and power! How just will be the condemnation of those, who will not, by all the means used with
them, and by all the advantages bestowed on them, be brought to believe in Christ's name, and accept the glorious life, which he has purchased for them, and revealed to them! It is said of some, that Christ himself marvelled because of their unbelief. And marvellous it is, that sinners should need so much done for them to overcome their unbelief and en mity and that so many should continue unbeliev ing and impenitent after all that is done.
God has written to us the great things of his grace; he has sent to us the word of salvation. Let us beware, lest this be our condemnation, that life is offered us, and we have chosen death; and light has come to us, and we have loved darkness. 17 a) is su cedre bi...”
ISAIAH, liii. 1.
Who hath believed our report?
THIS HIS chapter contains a prophetick de scription of the sufferings of Jesus Christ, of the gracious purposes of his death, and of the contempt and opposition which should attend him in the course of his ministry.
The words of our text are a complaint of the incredulity of those, to whom his gospel should be preached by himself in his own person, and by his apostle after him.
The words are by saint John applied to those, who, when they saw Christ's miracles, would not receive him as the promised Saviour. Though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him; that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, Lord, Who hath believ