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Bible to be true, and because they embrace what are called evangelical or orthodox opinions, that therefore all is well with regard to their faith, though their hearts bave never been affected by their faith, nor do their lives evidence that lively devotedness to God which the Scriptures demand as the fruit and evidence of faith. Now we must apprize such men that their barren orthodoxy is of no avail in the sight of God. That not with the understanding only, but with the heart also, man believeth unto righteousness. In opposition to these errors, we shall endeavour to exhibit a Scriptural view of justifying faith. And may the Spirit of God implant it in every reader's heart!
First, in order to the exercise of justifying faith, the mind of a sinner must be awakened, by the grace of God, to a personal anxiety on the great question of salvation. A' man must feel that he is diseased and ready to die, or he will not value the Physician of souls, nor have recourse to him for health and for life. 'A man must feel his need of pardon, and his having nothing to pay, or he will never accept of the forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel, without money and without price. A man must feel that he is without Christ, and as such without hope, or be will never fly for refuge to the hope set before him in a Saviour; and a man must feel that be is lost, before he will look toward him who came to seek and to save that which was lost. This is what the good old Scottish writers called & law work, because the exbibition of the demands and of the terrors of the divine law, was often made instrumental in producing this awakening; and in this way, as Paul expresses it, the law (by its discipline) proves a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.-Gal. iii. 24.
This awakening is recognized as the first step in the process of grace by the Westminster Divines, in the important answer to the question,“What is effectual calling?” It is there said: “Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the Gospel.” You see here conviction of sin and misery is ordinarily the first step in the eventful process of a sinner's coming to a Saviour.
Ye unawakened sinners who have never felt your need of a Saviour, to rescue you from the curse of a broken law, whatever may be your profession, you are without faith. Because you have been delighted with some favourite preacher, or have embraced with avidity some new docirine, or have been able to discuss and defend Orthodox opinions, you are not rashly to conclude that you are true believers. For if you be without conviction, you must be without faith, without conversion: and we pray God, that Le may open your eyes to see, and your hearts to feel, your sin and misery, that you may be drawn effectually to him who says, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.”Isa. xlv. 22.
Secondly, we would observe, that the object of justifying faith, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Faitb derives all its im. portance from the object to which it is directed. That
ect is Christ, and Christ alone, neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.-Acts iv. 12. Other foundation, on which faith may rest, can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.- 1 Cor. iii. 11. Even Christ, in the divinity of his person, in the depth of his humiliation even to the death of the cross, in the glory of his intercession, and in his exceeding great and precious promises. Christ in his offices of prophet, priest, and king, is the great object of faith. Hence you read, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”-John iii. 16. If ye believe not that I am he, says our Lord, ye shall die in your sins. Jobn viii. 20. And again, “He that believeth in me hath everlasting life.”—John vi. 47. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, is the great Gospel injunction on which life is suspended. Hence it was, that when Paul went to preach the Gospel, he was determined to know nothing among men, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,- 1 Cor. ii. 2. His design was to bring men to be believers; and in order to this, he was constantly exhibiting the object of faith before them.
And if Ministers in our day desire to have believers multiplied, let them preach Christ, and make all their sermons to centre in him. It is not strange that we have multitudes of unbelievers in our own land. In many pul. pits, lectures on the being, the attributes, and the providence of God, and on mere moral subjects, are substituted for the Gospel. The name of a Saviour is seldom heard, except it be to grace a communion season; and thus the only subject that can soothe the sorrows of a wounded spirit, or that God will bless in the conversion of sinners, is kept out of view. This is not the Gospel; and if faith come by hearing, there is nothing likely to beget it here. Oye Ministers that would save sinners, exhibit Christ constantly before them. It was not by disquisitions on the theory of vision that Moses succeeded in healing the wounded Israelites, but by raising high on a pole the brazen serpent, and by directing their view to this object. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, not on the cross only, but in the Gospel also, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. -John iii. 14.
Thirdly, let us consider the exercise of faith. In doing so, we would point to some portions of the Scripture, in which this exercise is exhibited. Of this we have an instance in the Gospel by Matthew, xi. 28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Here the exercise of faith is described by coming to Christ, as it is also in John vi. 35, “Jesus saith unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to ine shall never hunger; and be that believeth on me shall never thirst.”
Would you know then what it is to believe? I answer, it is to come hungry, weary, and heavy laden to Christ, to seek in him rest and refreshment to the soul.
Again, we have faith exbibited under the idea of receiving Christ. To as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.—John i. 12. Christ is revealed in the Gospel as a Prophet; faith gladly receives him in this character, saying, what I know not, teach thou me. Christ is exhibited as a Priest, who has made a full atonement for sin, faith gladly receives this atonement, and relies on its efficacy for pardon and reconciliation with God. Christ is proclaimed as a King demanding the subjection of our hearts and lives ; faith receives him in this character also, and gladly yields subjection to his sacred law. Still farther, faith is represented as beholding and looking to Jesus with the eyes. Thus it is said, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John i. 29. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.-Heb. xii. 2. Here faith is se. presented as the fixing of the eye of attention, confidence, and expectation, on Christi
Again, it is frequently pointed out to us under the idea of trusting in Christ. Thus, Rom. xv. 12, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust.
Perhaps there is no one word better expresses the na. ture of justifying faith, than saying it is trust or confi. fidence in Christ for deliverance from sin, and the consequences of sin ; or if we would use more words than one, perhaps we could not select better than those words in the Shorter Catechism," that it is to receive and rest on Christ alone for salvation, as he is offered in the Gospel." This implies that the soul has been brought to look around in deep anxiety for safety and rest from the dangers to which it feels itself exposed ; and finding no other refuge from coming wrath, and perceiving every thing suitable to its wants in Christ, it receives him, and rests on him alone for all. This trust is not an exer. cise of the understanding only, but of the heart also, and verifies one part of our motto,“ with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”
Fourthly. The first great blessing to the enjoyment of which an awakened sinner is led by faith, is justification.
Justification includes two things : pardon of our sins, and acceptance in the sight of God. Guilt is the burden that presses sorely the awakened sinner. He is ready to say with penitent David, mine iniquities are gone over mine head, as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.—Psalm xxxviii. 4. But when he hears that there is redemption in the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins, Eph. i. 7; and that by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses, Acts xiii. 39; he gladly receives the tidings, fixes his confidence on this Almighty, all-merciful, and all-atoning Saviour, and finds rest and peace to his weary soul. Thus, while a sinner has noîhing to pay, he receives a free and full pardon through faith in Christ Jesus; and when he feels himself an alien, is by grace admitted to the family of God, and blessed with the Spirit of adoption, whereby he cries, Abba, Father.-Rom. viii. 15.
Assurance of God's love to the individual, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, arise in different de.. grees in the believer's heart, in proportion to the clearness of his light and the strength of his faith. Little light and weak faith will produce a doubting, wavering mind; but bright light and strong faith will bring bright hopes and strong consolation. Being justified by faith, says the Apostle, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom. v. 1.
But faith is not only attended with peace, but with power ; power to love and serve God. Hence, it is said, Gal. v. 5, In Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love. Love is the holy gratitude and delight, and devotedness that rises in the heart, when faith finds repose for the soul in Christ. This love is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost.—Rom. v. 5. And it prompts the believer to say, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Faith working thus by love, proves the most powerful principle of active obedience; indeed the only principle that will produce such obedience as God can approve. So far then is faith from making void the law as the rule of obedience, that it establishes the law; and so far is genuine faith, as the means of justification, from injuring the interests of morality, that it prepares the way for the only real morality; and hence it is that they who lean all their confidence for pardon, peace, grace, and glory, only on the work of the Saviour, are at the same time the most careful and most constant in maintaining good works. (See Heb. xi.)
Ye unawakened sinners, let us, in conclusion, apprize you, ye are unbelievers still, for your must have felt yourselves ready to perish before you could fly for refuge to the friend of sinners.
Ye immoral, foolish, and disobedient souls, your pretences to faith without works are vain. Ye are unbe. lievers still, and the wrath of God abideth on you.
Ye strangers to love to a Saviour glowing in the heart, ye knew not Jesus or you would love him, for he is altogether lovely.
Ye who lightly esteem the great Redeemer, ye are without genuine faith, for to them that believe Christ is precious.—1 Peter ii. 7.
Awake all of you, and arise from among the dead, that