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and-that he hath accomplished the work of our redemption, —that all things written in the Scriptures concerning him are true J—And therefore they have believed in him ever since they can remember.;
But we learn that faith, as well as repentance is the gift of God, and therefore it cannot be in our own power to believe when we will; to believe is something more than to' acknowledge Christ to be the only Saviour of the World, in as much as it is by believing that we obtain pardon—and peace—and life—and salvation at the h.md of God, it being quire clear from the New Testament, that saving faith is always attended with these three things. It justifieth the Ungodly.*—It purifyeth the heart,—and it worketh by love.
1. It justifieth the ungodly; so saith the Apostle. Be it knoum unto you, men and brethren, that by this man is preached unto you, the forgiveness of sins, and by him every one that belieivt/i is justified freely from all things, front which they eould not be justified by the Law of Moses. From hence we .-ee, that faith in Christ is always attended with forgiveness of sins, and that accordingly it brings the peace of God to the conscience, that as Christ has made peace for us by the blood of his cross: so faith in Christ puts the soul' in possession of that peace.
2. Faith also purifies the heart; so saith the Apostle. Circumcision availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision, but a new Creature. And again. He hath put no difference bet-ween us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Here we see that faith puts the soul in possession of divine grace* as we well know that nothing but grace can purify the heart. By means of faith the divine nature is communicated to us and, we are renewed in the Spirit of our minds thereby. * _3. Faith likewise worketh by love; so saith the Apostfcv Ltrcumcision availeth nothing nor uncircumcision, but fait A Which worketh by love. Living faith in Christ will be attended with gospel obedience.
But all this will be acknowledged by many who are destitute ofliving faith in our divine Saviour.-^-Thesewillsav '*-that in as much as faith is the gift of God, and as we cannotbelieve till he is graciously pleased to give us the power. Therefore we must wait 'till the happy time shall come, when
tne Lord shall see good to bestow thatblessing upon us '* All.
this is most true. But how do they wait? It isto be feared in a state of carnal security, vainly supposing that atone time of* another the Lord,e11, by the powVr of his Spirit, C«SS them to bdieve. Whereas they should wait for faitbi by wrelu t ling with the Lord in mighty prayer,—by diligently arid cflti-J stantly hearing his blessed word,.—and in the use or' all the. means of grace; expecting that the Lord will meet with them and manifest himself unto them. And whenever they feel his presence, and the power of his Spirit, then in a particular manner they should endeavour to cast their whole soul upon him, to embrace and receive him, so that they may obtain salvation as his gift.
3. A third part of this obedience nd doubt is,—That universal obedience tn the preceptive part of God's holy word^ 'which is undoubtedly required of every true believer, For we are taught by the Apostle, that^ 'they who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works; and he also informs us, that the grace of God teacheth us, to deny all ungodliness and every worldly desire, and to live soberly; righteously and godly in this present evil world.
It teaches us to live soberly: It gives us a proper degree of power over the Bod v, and we shall possess our vessels in sanctincation and honourl or we shall keep our bodies in temperance, soberness and chastity.
W»e are enabled to live righteously. To do that which is, lawful and right on all occasions, in all our intercourse witli men. And to live godly, to devote our bodies and souls to God, and in our whole conduct glorify his blessed name.
There are many who mistake with regard to the obedience; which the Gospel requires. Some there are who build all their hopes of eternal salvation upon it. But these are certainly mistaken, ' they are giving that honour to their obedience which is only due to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are making their own supposed good works, the foundation of their hope. Others say, "obedience is not in any sense, necessary,—That good works neither further nor hinder one salvation." But these also are dangerously wrong; and the truth lies between the two extremes.
Christ is the only foundation of our hope, both of present and eternal salvation, we build upon him by faith: and good works naturally spring from that living faith by which we are interested in him. Let Christ then stand in his own placo and have the glory of our complete salvation. Let him bei all and in all to us, and let us look to be wholly saved by him.—
Let fa'ith also stand in its own place, as that by which we are saved by Christ, and come to be interested in him. Then let good works stand in their own place, being the proper fruit of that grace which faith hath put us in possession of.-, This then is that obedience which every one must perform, in order to his everlasting salvation.
Those things considered, how careful should every one be to make a proper use of the enlightening, and awakening influences of the Spirit of God, that thereby they may be deeply humbled under a sense of sin, and brought to embrace the offers of mercy, and to experience a clear sense of the pardoning love of God.
But this invaluable blessing cannot be obtained, but by flying for refuge to, and laying hold upon the only hope which God hath set before us in the Gospel. That is, by a lively faith in Christ. This faith will certainly put us in possession of the salvation of God.—The peace of God which passeth all understanding will keep our heart anr mind in the knowledge and lore of God, and the divinr nature being communicated to the soul, it will naturally produce holiness of life and conversation. And while faith i. kept in exercise, we shall not only stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and hold fast the beginning of our confidence, but we shall by looking unto Jesus be daily renewed in the spirit of our mind; and of consequence the wavs of God oill-be pleasant to us, and to walk therein will be onr tfelight. This will be more especially the case, if we lðe Apostle, earnestly endeavour to apprehend that f/,r which we are apprehended of Christ Jesus. To experience all the heights and depths of Christian holiness, ?dd to be fully renewed in the spirit of our minds, so th«t all that is within us may be holiness to the Lord.—Tfeen shall we walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we^re called, and all the wise and gracious designs of our gracious Lord shall be fulfilled irr us.
ON UNNECESSARY CARE.
PHILIPFUNS IT. 6, ., '. i -it .
B« careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with ilun'..giving, let your requests be mnde known unto God.
AT must appear to every well informed mind, that the design of the blessed God in communicating the riches of his grace .to those who believe in the son of his love, is not only to make them holy, to put them in a capacity to serve him acceptablj' while in this world, and to make them capable of enjoying him in the world 'to come: but it is evidently his design also to make them ha7if>y.—No one can possibly doubt of this, who is made acquainted with the inestimable benefits of the new covenant, tl^e great and glorious privileges, which every true believer is a partaker of. Such highly favoured souls being justified freety from all their past offences; and enjoying, as an evidence of \t, the peace of God which passeth all understanding: Being »Jso adopted into the family of God, and having his love sheJ abroad in their hearts by the Ho.y Ghost, which is givei. unto them. And ad«Jed to this, being made heirs of God, -»nd joint-heirs with Christ, not only of all the precious promises which relate to the present life, but also of that incorruptible, nndefiled, and never-fading inheritance which the Lord hath prepared for them. Such persons, in consideration of the abundant mercy and love of God, extended unto them, may well rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
But notwithstanding all this, if at the same time that the Lord graciously bestows all the above invaluable blessings upon us, he did not work an intire change in our hearts, by t he sanctifying influences of his Holy Spirit;- we could not long enjoy solid happiness. This must appear to every one iv ho is acquainted with the depravity of human nature, and
who considers how we are circumstanced while in this worlti of sorrow. How justly then may we admire the wisdom and goodness of God, in that he intends to create us anew, to save us from every wrong tempor; from every unholy desire, from every unruly passion, and from .all painful and tormenting care, as appears from the words of the text.
If the work of the Spirit of God upon the human mind is called a new creation, will it not follow that as in the beginning we were created in the image of God, which an apostle tells us consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. Eph. vi. 24. Col. iii. 10. then in our new creation, will he not fully restore his own lovely image, and sanctify us throughout, body, soul, and spirit! It is true with man this is impossible, but if it is God who worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure, then we may rejoice in hope, because we know that with him, all things are possible. He can never want power to accomplish his own designs; nor can he want love, to fulfil what he hath promised.
Surely it must be a convincing proof, to every considerate person, that our gracious Lord intends to save us to the uttermost, that bv his inspired servant he here exhorts us to be anxiously careful for nothing, and in another place exhorts ns to cast all our care upon God ; assuring us at the same time, that he careth for us. When we consider the many crosses, afflictions and heavy trials we may have to bear: The losses and disappointments we are liable to: The dangers to which we are exposed, together with the many and powerful enemies we have to encounter; and then consider that notwithstanding all this, we are here ,_ taught of God to ba careful for nothing, we may well conclude, that bv the power of his grace he designs to cleanse us from all fiithiness of flesh and spirit, and to enable us to perfect holiness in the fear of his sacred name; so that we m^ stand perfect and complete in all his blessed will.
Let us then attend to the apostle's advice, which may be considered under three distinct heads. ,,- Fitst. Be careful for nothing
Secondly. In every thing by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God.
Thirdly. Let thanksgiving be united with your fervent prayers for the mercies already received.
First. The apostle exhorts us to be careful for nothing but we cannot suppose that he here forbids all sorts, and and, every degree of care; but only that unnecessary anxious, and painful care, which ariseth from a sinful distrust of God.'