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that the gospel was intended to honour the holy law of God; to display in perfect harmony the infinite justice, purity, wisdom, goodness, mercy, and truth of his all-glorious character; to lay a foundation for the hope of the vilest transgressors connected with the most effectual provision for their humiliation and renewal of the divine image; to excite in the hearts of the redeemed the most fervent exercises of admiring, adoring, zealous, joyful, and thankful love to the God of their salvation; and finally to exhibit the divine glory, in the most awful and affecting light that possibly could be, to the whole intelligent creation through eternal ages. But, if another gospel be introduced, which merely provides for the encouragement of sinners at any rate; while the other ends, of infinite importance, are overlooked, or at least greatly kept out of sight; then the justice and holiness of God, and his strict and spiritual law, appear terrible rather than glorious and lovely; the odiousness, and desert of transgression are concealed or palliated; salvation from punishment is detached from "the "sanctification of the Spirit unto obedienee :" and then it is no wonder that unconverted men often credit such a gospel, which is entirely congenial to their pride and carnal minds; because they may be delighted with the false notions thus given them of the character of God; while they continue to hate the infinitely just and holy God, whom the scriptures reveal: as the Jews imagined they loved the God of Abraham, whose favourites they deemed themselves, though the Truth himself testified, "Ye have both seen and hated both me and my "Father." And, having once thus awfully quieted
and pleased themselves with an unholy faith, a presumptuous confidence, selfish affections, and a carnalized gospel, it is, alas! not probable they should ever be undeceived, till the light of eternity tremendously shew them their real character and situation.
The true gospel of Christ reveals "a just God " and a Saviour." The eternal Son of the Father became incarnate, to honour the righteous demands of the holy law by a divinely perfect obedience, during the whole course of his suffering life; and to honour its curse by his unknown agonies in the garden and on the cross; that sinners, who most justly deserved, and who must otherwise inevitably have endured, the everlasting wrath of God, might through his merits, ransom, and mediation, be freely pardoned, completely justified, and gradually recovered to perfect holiness by the Spirit of God given unto them. But an unhumbled, unholy heart cannot truly believe this gospel and a faith which does not allow the excellency of the law, the desert of sin, and the justice of God in the awful sentence denounced against transgressors, cannot render him the glory of his free mercy in salvation. Much less can such a faith give God the glory of all his other perfections, as harmonizing with his mercy in that stupendous design, which is the admiration of angels, and of all redeemed sinners, and shall be so to all eternity.
It is not meant, that the sinner, when he first comes for mercy to the Saviour, distinctly perceives these things: but he must be so far enlightened, humbled, softened, and changed, as to yield the point in contest; he must willingly come,
as a justly condemned criminal, for a free and holy salvation in the Lord's appointed way. So that an unholy faith can only welcome an unholy gospel, and make an unholy use of it: and it is observable, that such respectable men, as are induced to plead in behalf of this kind of faith, when they proceed to answer objections, or to shew its sanctifying tendency, imperceptibly, and doubtless unintentionally, slide into quite another view of faith : and then it becomes very easy to make the cause appear specious; nor do most readers bestow sufficient pains to detect the latent fallacy, or to become so conversant with such subjects, as to be capable of exactly discriminating between them. The author however is confident, that his arguments, if duly weighed and compared with scripture, will be found conclusive; and fully prove, that saving faith is a holy exercise of the soul.
SAVING FAITH THE PRINCIPLE OF ALL OTHER HOLY DISPOSITIONS, AFFECTIONS, AND BEHAVIOUR.
THE holy nature of true faith may likewise be inferred, with absolute certainty, from the effects produced by it for "a corrupt tree cannot bring "forth good fruit ;" and " every tree is known by "its fruit."-Faith, when genuine, excites all holy affections, and works by them in all holy obedience. "By faith Noah, being warned of God "of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark."-Sinners, when warned to flee from the wrath to come, if they believe the warning, are "moved with fear" to forsake their sinful courses and carnal confidences; and, when they have been instructed in the gospel, if they believe that gracious message, they are moved "to flee "for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before "them." Even confirmed disciples are repeatedly warned, "not to fear them that kill the body, and "after that have no more that they can do; but "to fear Him who is able to destroy both body and "soul in hell."* "Blessed is he that feareth always." "Be not high minded, but fear." "Let "us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem "to come short of it." "Let us have grace to "serve God, with reverence and godly fear; for
* Matt. x. 28. Luke xii. 4, 5.
our God is a consuming fire." In proportion to the degree, in which we understand and believe these words, we shall be moved with fear to use proper means, and flee to a distance from the danger: for "a prudent man foreseeth the evil, and "hideth himself; but the simple pass on and are "punished." And this fear implies reverence of the authority and justice of God, hope in his mercy, and a desire of his favour, and of the happiness he bestows; which implies love of his excellencies, as well as dread of his awful power and indignation.
But the highest and purest energy of faith consists in calling forth holy love into vigorous exercises; and by its powerful influence constraining the believer to all devoted and self-denying obedience, and patient suffering for the Lord's sake. Indeed this will be perceived, by those who well consider the subject, to comprise every thing: for love is the leading affection of the soul, and governs all others. When therefore the apostle would mark, in few words, the essential distinction between a Christian and all other men, he says, "In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision avail"eth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith "which worketh by love."* Now "love is the fulfilling of the law," and likewise the principal "fruit of the Spirit :" "GOD is LOVE," and heaven is love and can faith not at all holy excite in us the most holy and spiritual of all exercises of the rational soul?—I say excite, not produce: for, in strict propriety, the production of any holy dispo
* Gal. v.