Графични страници
PDF файл


of the forest are his, and so are the cattle upon a thousand hills; the whole world is his and all that is therein : in him even man himself both lives, and moves, and has his being. What satisfaction therefore can we hope to make by giving unto God that which is his own already? It is indeed true, that by the law of Moses burntofferings and sin-offerings were instituted to cleanse and purify the people; but these certainly could have no virtue in themselves to take

away sins, any farther than as they were made in obedience to the divine will, which ordained them as types and shadows of our blessed Saviour, who was to offer one sacrifice for sins, even his own body on the cross. Thus the apostle to the Hebrews tells us, that "the law had but a shadow of good things to come, and not the very " image of the things, and therefore could never “ with those sacrifices, which they offered year

by year continually, make the comers there“ unto perfect: for then would they not have

ceased to be offered. Because that the wor

shippers once purged should have had no more 6 conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices " there is a remembrance again made of sins

every year: for it is not possible, that the « blood of bulls and of goats should take away 6 sin.”





It appears then, that only two methods could possibly be devised, that afforded the least glimpse of hope of appeasing the Deity's offended justice; namely, repentance and sacrifice; and both these totally insufficient to procure salvation. Thus stood the case before our Saviour's coming into the world: but one method was still left, which we could never have known, had it not been revealed to us in the gospel : the Son of God became man for our sakes; he alone had the power of reconciling God's mercy to his justice, and by one oblation of himself, once offered, was able to make a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. This he has done for us; and surely I need not say, it behoveth us to be thankful.

I hope it is by this time evident, that it is every Christian's duty to put his whole trust and confidence in God's mercy through Christ, and to look upon faith in a Saviour's merits, as the only means by which he can hope to obtain salvation.


But as faith admits of several degrees, and is therefore used in different senses, in different parts of the New Testament, it will be proper to shew, what is the true faith required of a Chris: tian as necessary to salvation:


Now the faith required of a Christian is not barely a belief that there is a God : for, in this sense, not only many wicked men, but the Devils themselves have faith, “they believe and trema “ ble." Nor is it. a belief that Christ is the true Messias; for this too à mani may believe, and yet lead a life very contrary to his pręcepts. But the true Christian faith is such a firm conviction of the truth and reasonableness of his several doctrines, as influences our conduct, and naturally leads us to the practice of virtue and how liness.

Now faith being understood in this complete sense, it naturally follows, in the second place, that true Christian faith cannot be attained to without the assistance of God's holy spirit.

We have seen before, from the Scripture account of the state of man after the fall, that the heart of man is warped from good and inclined unto evil continually. And if any onę denies the scripture account, and pretends not to be sensible of this general corruption, we may send him to his own breast for information. This will tell liim, in as plain terms as the holy writings


themselves, “ that in his flesh dwelleth no good “ thing; that the good which he would, he “ doeth not, and the evil which he would not, " that he doeth.” And this, inethinks, should make him at least wish, that God would be

graciously pleased to aid his infirmity, and enable him to conquer the law of sin, that warreth against his soul. Now this assistance God has actually promised to all Christians in general, through the Holy Ghost, the comforter : “ Into “ one body, (that is, the church) says St. Paul,

we are all baptized by one spirit.” And again,

unto every one of us is given grace, according " to the measure, the abundant measure, of the gift of Christ.

So that we may all of us be assured, that unless we do despite unto the spirit of grace, the Holy Ghost is ever ready to prevent and run before us in the course of godliness, to our great and endless comfort.

But yet a man may urge,

whence comes it, " that this assistance must nécessarily forerun

our faith? Is not faith a conviction of the reason and understanding, upon sufficient

grounds; and can the understanding possibly 66 rėject such sufficient evidence, any more than :56 the eyes deny admittance to such objects as


present themselves?" Let such a man but a little more attentively consider the true nature of 3


Christian faith, and, I trust, the objection will soon vanish. Christian faith is not merely a principle of knowledge, but a principle of religion : it has not its residence in the head, but in the heart. I have before observed, that a person may perfectly know his duty, as we see too many instances every day, and yet not practise it. And indeed we may as well suppose a man to merit eternal salvation by seeing with his eyes, as by solely admitting the truth of the Christian docrines, without conforming to them in his life. For to what purpose can his faith tend in this case, but to the increasing of his condemnation; since he sins with his eyes open, and the consequences full in his sight? He certainly can be no more deemed a good man for having the bare knowledge of things spiritual, than a man ought to be denominated sensual from the bare knowledge of the things of sense. But farther, the heart and will have more power over the understanding than many are apt to be aware of. A man, it is true, cannot withhold the assent of his reason from things sufficiently proved to him; but he may refuse to examine the proofs : just as a man with his eyes open cannot refuse admittance to external objects, but he may however shut his eyes and exclude them ; and this is too frequently the case : unless the will be concurring, we are apt studiously to avoid K 3


« ПредишнаНапред »