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physical necessity; this fact could never take place. But it is easily explained, as the natural course of things, where such judges, as men, are concerned. When a question is thus proposed; one declines, or neglects, to inquire, altogether. Another listens only to the evidence on one side. A third, partially to that on both sides. A fourth, partially to that on one side, and wholly to that on the other. And a fifth, to all the evidence, which he can find. One cares nothing about the question ; another is pre-determined to give his decision on one side : and another resolves to decide according to truth. One is too lazy ; another too indifferent ; another too biassed; and another too self-sufficient; to discover truth at all. In all these, except the candid, thorough examiner, the conduct, which they adopt on this subject, is sin. Inclination, choice, bias of mind, prevents them from coming to the knowledge of the truth. If they loved truth, as their duty demands, they would easily, and certainly, find it. Their indifference to it, or their hatred of it, is the true reason, why they find it not; and the real explanation of the strange manner, in which they judge, and of their otherwise inexplicable faith in doctrines, not only absurd, but unsupported even by specious evidence.
2dly. From these observations, also, it is evident, that faith may be a virtuous, and unbelief a sinful, affection of the mind.
Truth is the foundation of all good. On this, as their basis. rest the character, designs, government, and glory, of the Crea
and all the happiness and virtue of the Intelligent Uni
But the only way, in which truth can be useful to Intelligent creatures, or the means of the Divine glory, is by being believed. Every degree of happy influence, which truth has, or can have, on the Intelligent Kingdom, is, therefore, derived entirely from faith ; so far as absolute knowledge is not attainable. On faith, then, all these amazing interests wholly rest. That which is not believed cannot be obeyed. The influence of truth cannot commence in our minds, until our faith in it has commenced. Universal unbelief, therefore, would completely destroy the Divine Kingdom, and the general happiness, at once. Of course, partial unbelief; the unbelief of many, a few, or one ; aims directly at the same destruction.
Since, then, faith is a voluntary exercise of the mind; it follows, that, whenever it is exercised towards moral objects, it is virtuous ; is an effort of the mind, directed to the promotion of this immense good, which I have specified. To the degree, in which it may be thus virtuous, no limits can be affixed: but it may rise to such a height, as to occupy all the supposable powers of any Intelligent creature.
On the contrary, Unbelief, when directed towards moral objects, being always voluntary, is always sinful. Its efficacy, as opposed to the glory of God and the good of the Universe, has been already mentioned. Its insolence towards the Divine character is exhibited in the strongest terms by St. John, in this memorable declaration ; He, that believeth not God, hath made him a liar. What a reproach is this to the Creator? What an impious expression of contempt, to the infinitely blessed JehoVAA! The very insult, offered to him by the old Serpent, in his seduction of our first parents! Them this unbelief destroyed ; and, from that melancholy day, it has been the great instrument of perdition to their posterity. Faith is the only medium of our access to God. To come to him we must believe that he is : for without such belief he would be to us a mere nihility. Atheism, therefore, cuts a man off from all access to God; and consequently from all love, and all obedience. Were the Universe atheistical, it would cease from all moral connection with its Creator. Deism, though a humbler degree of the same spirit, produces exactly the same effects. He, that believeth not the Son, hath not life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Practical unbelief, the same spirit in a degree still inferior, is, however, followed by the same miserable consequences. A mere speculative belief leaves the heart, and the life, as it found them; opposed to God, and the objects of his indignation. The Speculative believer, therefore, although advanced a step beyond the Deist and two beyond the Atheist, is still disobedient and rebellious, without hope, and without God in the world. VOL. II.
THE NATURE OF FAITH.
ROMANS iii. 28.
Therefore we conclude, that man is justified by faith, without works
In my last discourse, I attempted to show, that faith and unbelief are voluntary exercises of the mind, and may, therefore, be virtuous or sinful; and to refute the objections against this doctrine. This I did, without critically examining the Nature of faith, which I purposely reserved for a separate discussion. This is evidently the next object of inquiry. I shall, therefore, endeavour, in this discourse, to explain the Faith of the Gospel ; or the Faith by which we are justified.
1. Faith, in this sense, respects God as its object.
Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Gen. xv. 6. Rom. iv. 3. Gal. iii. 6. James ii. 23. Without faith it is impossible to please Him : for he that cometh to God must believe, that he is, and that he is the rewarder, of them that dili. gently seek him. Heb. xi. 6. Believe in the Lord your God; so shall ye be established. 2 Chron. ii. 20. Who by him, says St. Peter to the Christians to whom he wrote, do believe in God, that raised him
up from the dead and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God. 1 Pet. i. 21. The Jailer rejoiced, believing in God with all his house, Acts xvi. 34. That they who have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. Jesus answering saith unto them, Believe in God. Mark xi. 27. He that believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life. John v. 24.
It will be unnecessary to multiply proofs any farther. I have made these numerous quotations, to show, that, in the common language of the Scriptures, Faith in God is commanded; is the universal characteristic of Christians; is declared to be the object of Divine approbation; is counted to them for righteousness ; and is entitled to an everlasting reward.
II. The faith of the Gospel especially respects Christ as its object.
Ye believe in God, says our Saviour to his Apostles, believe also in me. John xiv. 1. If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. John viii. 24.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: he that believeth not is condemned already. John iii. 36. John iii. 18. and John vi. 40. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is count. ed for righteousness. Rom. iv. 5. In these passages it is evident, that to all such as are acquainted with the Gospel it is indispensable, that their faith respect Christ as its especial object; that, wherever this is the fact, they are assured of everlasting life; and wherever it is not, they will not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on them.
III. The faith of the Gospel respects Christ, particularly, as the Son of God.
He that believeth on the Son hath life. John vi. 40. John iii. 36. And he that believeth not the Son shall not see life. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. 1 John ii. 23. He that believeth not is condemned already, because he believeth not on the name of the only begotten Son of God. John iii. 26.
IV. The Faith of the Gospel respects Christ as its object, in all his offices, but especially in his priestly office.
As a prophet, or the preacher of the Gospel.
Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on Him, If ye continue in my word, ye are my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth; and the truth shall make you free. He that receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him. John xii. 48. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John vi. 63. That they might all be damned, who believed not the truth. 2 Thess. ii. 12. The Chaspel is the power of God unto salvation. Rom. i. 16. In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel. 1 Cor. iv. 15.
As a Priest.
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood. Rom. iii. 25. My blood is drink indeed. John vi. 55. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life. John vi. 54. See also 53, 56, and 57. So many of us, as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death. Rom. vi. 3. Generally, all those passages, which speak of mankind as justified, and saved, by the blood and by the death of Christ, indicate, in an unequivocal manner, that our faith especially respects this as its object; because his death is especially the means of our salvation; since by this he became a propitiation for the sins of the world.
As a King.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, thou and Thy house. Acts xvi. 31. No man can say, that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor. xii. 3. And they stoned Stephen, invocating, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit ; and he cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. Acts vii. 59, 60. For I know in whom I have believed ; and am per
2 suaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. In all these instances the Faith, referred to, is evidently faith in Christ, as the Lord, or King, in Zion. The two last passages exhibit very strong examples of faith in Christ, as the sovereign disposer of all things. To deny the Lord, who bought us, St. Peter declares to be the means of bring. ing upon ourselves swift destruction. 2 Pet. ii. 1.
V. The Faith of the Gospel is an affection of the heart.
With the heart, says St. Paul, man believeth unto righteousness. Rom. x. 10. This passage would be more literally translated, With the heart faith exists unto righteousness, that is, the faith which is accounted to man for righteousness, or which is productive of righteousness in the life, hath its seat in the heart; and the heart in this exercise co-operates with the understanding. In