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things work together for good, his heart will become light and cheerful; he shall be freed from a thousand anxieties wliich otherwise would disquiet and distract his soul. The more distinct and explicit the actings of his faith are, the more peace will they bring into his conscience, and the more joy into his heart.
When his actings of faith are so lively and express, that he becomes habitually conscious of them, he thereby sits down to a rich feast of inward tranquillity, and even of spiritual delight. When his faith, under the influences of the Holy Spirit, is so direct and so peculiar in its exercise, as to meet Christ in the promise, heart to heart, and eye to eye, it is like a rod of myrtle in the hand of the traveller, which, as some say, revives his spirits, and enables him to proceed without feeling himself weary. He thereby dwells in Him, who is the consolation of Israel, the fountain from which all the streams of ineffable delight do flow. Let every believer, then, study to be more distinct, particular, and express in his exercise of faith.
Faith can support when nature shrinks; faith can call God, Father, even when he frowns; and make some discovery of a sun through the darkest cloud.
HOW FAITH JUSTIFIES.
Bu'r it remains that we inquire how faith justifies. Certainly not in that sense, as though God graciously accepts the act of faith, and new evangelical obedience proceeding from faith, in the room of that perfect obedience, which, according to the strictness of the law, we ought to have; for this were to make void the whole gospel. In the room of perfect obedience, which the law requires to justification, the gospel hath not substituted our faith, but the obedience of Christ, by which the righteousness of the law is fulfilled : and it is false that faith and our obedience are one and the same thing. I confess, faith is a virtue commanded by the law, and that the believer, so far as he believes, does ohey God. I confess again, no faith is to be accounted true and living, which is not productive of good works. But yet faith is one thing, and obedience flowing from faith quite another thing, especially in the business of justification, of which we treat ; for Paul always contra-distinguisheth all manner of works from faith. Lastly, neither the truth nor righteousness of God suffers, that our faith and obedience, which are imperfect, should be admitted as perfect; for it is the will of God, that the righteousness of the law should be fulfilled in our justification, not that any thing should derogate from it.
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH NO RELEASE FROM
What superficial views of the gospel must they entertain, who can once suppose that the obedience of Christ, in the room and stead of sinners, was ever meant to grant them a release from personal obedience! How strange a conclusion ! How absurd to think, that the great God would have employed such a wonderful method to assert the dignity and authority of his
law, only that his creatures might have the liberty of transgressing it! It is impossible that such impious thoughts can seriously enter into the mind of that man, who properly understands, and firmly believes the gospel of Christ. The more confidently he relies on the righteousness of God his Saviour, the more deeply must his mind be impressed with a sense of the authority and obligation of the law. It was a conviction of the purity of this law, that first taught him the nccessity of a better righteousness than his own; and still, by the same means, he is kept “ looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus unto eternal life.” He expects no favour from God on account of any merit of his own, not because obedience is less pleasing to him than to others, but because the commandments of his God appear to him exceeding broad. He rejoices in the finished work of the divine Redeemer, not because it weakens the obligations to duty, but because, in this glorious scheme of mercy, he perceives the character of God, and the authority of his law most fully vindicated. He can truly say with the apostle, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man,” and with the Psalmist, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Through thy precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.”
As the belief of a God is the foundation of all religion, there can be no religion without faith ; but as true religion includes virtue, religion cannot be perfect without works.
Is religion, this pearl of great price, in my possession ? Important question! If so, give God the glory due unto his name, for flesh and blood, ordinances and ministers, have not imparted this blessing unto but
Father who is in heaBut if, alas ! our conscience testifies that we are utter strangers to religion, which is emphatically described as “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” let us not rest satisfied with our state, for it is most awful! But, with many a humble heart-felt prayer, entreat the Giver of every good gift to bestow upon us this invaluable blessing; and, whilst we peruse the sacred page of the Scripture, entreat him to open our understanding that we may understand it, and thus be made wise to the salvation of our souls.
In what does true penitence consist ?—It is to know our sin, and our God-it is to know the miserable state of our soul, and the compassion of our Saviour-it is to forsake the one and embrace the other without delay—it is to mourn over our sins, and seek the pardon of them with tears. As soon as the “ woman who was a sinner" knows that Jesus is in the house of the Pharisee, she runs thither-she does not wait till he is alone, till he is at prayers, or in the temple. Wherever she can find him, she presents herself before him. This is her Jesus; she fears him as her judge, she adores him as her God; but she considers Him also as her Physician, her Father, her Saviour! She is silent, for how could she justify herself? But she weeps, and her tears are more powerful than words. She reflects on what she has done, and under the influence of sincere regret for past: offences, resolves now to employ-in the service of her God, what was formerly employed in dishonouring him.
With this design, she hastens to discharge her duty. As soon as she discovers that Jesus is in the feast-chamber, there she appears. How different from you, who consider, who hesitate, who deliberate, who wait till this pleasure be exhausted, till that accident impel you to form more determined resolutions, till the world no longer please, or, to speak more plainly, till you no longer please the world!
Do you forsake the world ?-Often do you look back to see if it will regard you, and if fortune will again favour you with its smiles. Often you feign to quit it, that you may afford it a stronger wish to retain you; and though it may have many times deceived you, as Laban did Jacob, yet you consent to give it some years of further service.
Happy penitent-for I call you no longer sinful woman-happy penitent, come and teach us what it is to repent and be converted ;—that it is not simply to promise, to deliberate, and to resolve; that it is to hasten like you, to discharge what we have promised. Come, teach us how to become truly and seriously penitent-it is to
sigh as the dove, to watch as the solitary sparrow on the house-top,” to weep, and when open scandal has been caused, to weep like you in public, notwithstanding the alarming fear of the vain judgment of men.