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Pharaoh's daughter : by faith he forsook Egypt, and passed the Red Sea. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, and Rahab was saved. By faith Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jephtha, David, Samuel, and the prophets, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword;"* with much more too large to be uttered here.
This is that faith, which the apostle James magnifies against all false faiths :t “ Faith,” says he, “if it has not works, is dead. A man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” And as if he had foreseen the pother made by the men of creeds and articles, he speaks on this wise; “ Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well; the devils also believe and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham, our father, justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works? And by works was faith made perfect. And he was called the friend of God.” Very notable and informing is that expression of his, “ The devils also believe and tremble;" and as if he had said, * The devil believes, as well as you ; and trembles too, which is more.' This shows there is a faith that is not the true faith, and that not with relation to the matters believed, but the spirit of the mind in believing: for the devils believe the truth literally; but their faith works not by love, no more than their knowledge by obedience, and therefore it does them no good, and is not the true faith. O that Christendom would lay this very one thing to heart! But I must proceed.
The exhortation of the apostle Peter is a farther and plain discrimination of true faith :1. “ And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, an owledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly-kindness, and to brotherly-kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But be that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins :" as if he had said, they have forgot where they begun, that think they can be Christians without a life of holiness.
• Heb. xi.
+ James ii. 17, 13, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. 2 Pet. i. 5, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9.
I will seal up these scripture testimonies of faith, with that account which is given us by the apostle John,* “ For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world : and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?” So that the belief in the Son of God must have this evidence to prove it a true belief in God's account, that by it men are born of God and overcome the world :t wherefore their faith is false whom the world overcomes : “I am not of this world," saith Christ Jesus; neither can that faith be, that is rightly called the faith of the Son of God.
There are three passages left upon record by this beloved disciple of Jesus, of great weight and importance to us : when he had discoursed of the propitiation and advocateship of Christ, he does immediately add ; “And hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected : hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith, he abideth in him, ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.”
The second passage, very pertinent to this matter, is in the next chapter ; || My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him : for if our heart condemnus, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God : and whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in bis sight. And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us command
The third and last passage, which I shall mention on this account, is in the fourth chapter of the same epistle, I viz. “ And we have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.' Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love God bath to us. God is love ; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein our love is made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because, as he is, so are we in this world.” * I John v. 4, 5.
+ John xiv. 17. | 1 John ii. 3, 4, 5, 6. | 1 John iii. 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. 1 1 John iv. 14, 15, 16, 17,
So that keeping God's word and commandments, and our consciences from accusing us, and our being like to Christ in this world, is our loving of God as we ought to love him,
These are the holy fruits of all those that love God, and believe in Christ, that are the family of the faithful, regenerated and redeemed from the earth : wherever two or three of them are met together, Christ is in the midst of them; they neither ask nor hope in vain. With this character let us take a view of all persons and societies of Christians throughout the world, not forgetting ourselves; let us hereby try their faith and religion, and our own :* • If it be of God the Father, it is pure and undefiled; it leads them that have it, to visit the fatherless and widows in their allliction, and to keep themselves unspotted from the world. Is this our case? O that it were so !
If it be objected, “Which way shall we obtain this like precious faith?'
I answer, We must take diligent heed to the light and grace that comes by Jesus ;t that candle of the Lord, which he has set up in our souls : we nust bring our deeds to this light, and see if they be wrought in God or no? for this gives us to discern betwixt the precious and the vile; the one gives joy, the other brings a load of guilt upon the soul. Do we not know, that we do the things we ought not; and that we leave undone the things we ought to do. This, alas ! will be our judgment one day, the last, the terrible day: for therefore men are condemnable, because they know.
Those, therefore, that would obtain this precious faith, that overcomes the world, must embrace the “Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” by which this faith is begotten; and they who believe not in this grace, nor receive it in the love of it, nor give themselves up to be taught and led by it, can never be said truly to believe in him from whom it comes, any more than the Jews may be said to believe in God, when they rejected him that came from God, his beloved Son. He that denies the measure, can never own or receive the fulness. John bears record, that he was † “ full of grace and truth, and that of his fulness they received, and grace for grace: for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ :” so that it is utterly impossible for a man to believe in Christ, and not to be taughi and led by the grace that comes from him, and by him. It is a common saying of people in these days, * James i. 27. + John iii. 20, 21.
John i. 14, 16, 17.
66 We are * Rom. xiii. 12, 13, 14. | Job zsi. 17. I John iii. 8. 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. $ 1 John i. 5,6,7,8,9.
not under the law, but under grace;" who are in truth under sin and the law of death, and subjects to the prince of the power of the air, who reigns in the hearts of the children of disobedience;” and their lives show it: no, those are under grace, that live the holy life of grace. “For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation," saith the apostle Paul, “bath appeared unto all men ; teaching us, that denying ungodliness and the world's lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world :” these are the people that believe in Christ, unto the saving of the soul.
This is that blessed light which shines in the hearts of those that believe, and gives the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” The ancients walked in it, and found eternal life by it. “I am the light of the world,” said Christ, “he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." The saints armed themselves with it against the fiery darts of Satan; and, by the virtue and power that is in it, were enabled to overcome temptation. And this will be the condemnation of disobedient men, that they see, but shut their eyes; they know the light, but rebel against it. Christ, by his holy light in the conscience, shows men their danger, warns them of it, before it comes upon them : no man on earth can plead either ignorance or surprise.
It is true, the “ Candle of the wicked is often put out :") but that implies it is often lighted, and that men sin against conviction, against sight and knowledge : it is wilful, and that is dangerous. No faith, in disobedience, will do; no faith, without holy fruits, holy works, will save. Men must be born again, if ever they will enter into the kingdom of God: there is no fellowship between Christ and Belial :1 people must part with their vile affections and inordinate desires, or they are no company for Christ; they have no share in bim. What part can pride have in humility, wrath in meekness, lust in self-denial, revenge in forgiveness ? To pretend to believe in Christ, and not to be like him, is a contradiction. “This is the message,” said the beloved disciple, " which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light; and in him is no darkness at all : if we say, that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” The truth is, all such faith and profession are a lie, and that “in the right-hand ;"** a cheat upon a man's self. “But,” says he, if we walk in the light, as God is * Tit. ii. 11, 12 + John viii. 12.
** Isaiah xliv. 20.
in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ bis son cleanseth us from all sin, If we say that we have no sin, (to be cleansed from) we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us : but if we confess our sins, he is faithful aıd just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all uprighteousness." To conclude, Christ Jesus, the Son of God, and Saviour of the world, is holy, harmless, and undefiled, and so must his followers be: he is no head of a corrupt body, nor master of rebellious servants : he that has not the wedding garment, must be cast out: the branch that brings not forth fruit, will be cut off. But those that truly believe in his name, walk in his light, and are taught by his grace to renounce the “ Lusts of the eye, the Justs of the flesh, and pride of life,"'* the unjust profits, pleasures and pomps of the world, and choose to follow him in his own holy way of resignation and regeneration, the same is his brother, his sister, and his mother. And whatever losses they may here sustain for his name's sake, they have the promise of an “hundred-fold in this life, and the inheritance of that which is eternal.”+
And I do fervently beseech Almighty God, the giver of all saving faith, mercifully to vouchsafe, more and more, to beget a serious inquiry in us, what that faith is which we have ? Who is the author of it? And what fruits it hath brought forth? That so we may not profane the name of God by a vain profession of it, nor abuse ourselves unto eternal perdition : but that we may endeavour, by God's assistance, to approve ourselves such believers, as sincerely fear God, love righteousness, and hate every evil way, as becomes the redeemed of God by the precious blood of his Son. Since, therefore, we are not our own, but the Lord's, who hath bought us with that great price, let us glorify him in our bodies, in our souls, and in our spirits, which are his : then shall we bé children of Abraham indeed, heirs of the promises, partakers of that resurrection and life, that immortality and glory, which God the righteous judge will, one day, plentifully distribute to them that abide in this precious faith unto the end. This naturally brings me to my third head, and an unhappiness we have long laboured under.
* Mat. üï. 32, 33, 34, 35. + Mat. xix. 28, 29.