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354 A Plain Definition of Saving Faith. righteous God, it is given freely to believe in a gracious bleeding Saviour; because the sick alone have need of a physician : and none but those who believe in God, can see the need of an ADVocate with him: but ought we from thence to conclude that our unbelieving neighbours are necessarily debarred from believing in God ?When our Lord said to the unbelieving Jews, that they could not believe in him, did he not speak of an impotency of their own making ? I ask it again, if they obstinately resisted the light of their inferior dispensation, if they were none of Christ's Jewish sheep, how could they be his Christian sheep? If an obstinate boy sets himself against learning the letters, how can he ever learn to read ? If a stubborn Jew stiffly opposes the law of Moses, how can he submit to the lan of Christ? Is it not strange that some good people should leap into reprobation, rather than to admit so obvious a solution of this difficulty ?
From the above-mentioned texts we have then no more reason to inser, that God forces believ. ers to believe, or that he believes for them, than to conclude that God constrains diligent tradesmen to get money, or gets it for them, because it is said, “ We are not sufficient to TAINK ANY thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God--whO GIVES US All things richly to enjoy. Remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that GIVETH THEE power to get wealth.”
From the whole I conclude, that so long as the accepteıl time, and the day of salvation continue, all sinners who have not yet finally hardened themselves, may day and night (through
the help and power of the general light of Christ's saving grace, mentioned John 1.9, and Tit.ii. 11.) receive some truth belonging to the everlasting gospel ; though it should be only this: “ There is a God, who will call us to an account for our sins, and who spares us that we may break them off by repentance.' And their cordial believing of this truth, will make way for their receiving the higher truths, that stand between them and the top of the mysterious ladder of truth. I grant, it is impossible they should leap at once to the middle, much less to the highest round of that ladder; but if the foot of it is upon earth, in the very nature of things, the lowest step is within their reach, and by laying hold of it, they may go on from faith to faith, till they stand firm 'even in the Christian faith; if distinguishing grace has elected them to have the Christian gospel.
HOW THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL COME
ÍN TO THE SUCCOUR OF MORALITY. IF to preach the gospel, is to teach sinners the relations they sustain with respect to God, as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier; if it is to announce the advantages which fow from this three-fold relation, till, penetrated with gratitude and love, mankind apply themselves to fulfil the several duties to which they stand engaged; we may challenge the world, to point out any knowledge of equal importance with that, which is discovered in the gospel. To deprive
us, then, of the doctrines contained in this gospel, is it not to suppress the most important instructions we can possibly receive; is it not to conceal from us a Testament, which is made wholly in our favour? To'decide this question, we shall here consider what influence these doc. trines have upon morality.
The virtues of worldly men, as well as their vices, are little else than a kind of traffic carried on by an inordinate sell-love. From this impure source the most amiable of their actions flow; and hence, instead of referring all things primarily to God, they act with an eye to their immediate advantage. Christ has offered a remedy to this grand evil, by teaching us, that to love the Deity with all our heart, is the first commandment of the law; and that to love ourselves, and our neighbour as ourselves, is but a secondary commandment in the sight of God: thus leading us up to divine love, as the only source of pure virtue. When self-love is once redaced to this wholesome order, and moves in exact obedience to the Creator's law, it then becomes truly commendable in man, and serves as the surest rule of fraternal affection.
Evangelical morality ennobles our most ordinary actions, such as those of eating and drinking, requiring that “all things be done to the glory of God," i. e. in celebration of his un. speakable bounty. A just precept this, anil founded upon the following doctrine, things are of God:" to whom of consequence they ought finally to refer. If you lose sight of this doctrine, your appareat gratitude is nothing
more than a feigned virtue, which has no other motives or ends, except such as originate and lose themselves in self-love. In such circumstances you cannot possibly assent to the justice of the grand precept above cited: but holding it up, like the author of the Philosophical Dictionary, as a just subject of ridicule, you may perhaps burlesque the feelings of a conscientious man, with regard to this command, as the comedian is accustomed to sport with the character of a modest woman. Thus many philosophers are emulating the morality and benevolence of these censorious religionists, concerning whom our Lord significantly declared, Verily, they have their reward.'
How shall we reduce a sinner to moral order ? Will it be sufficient to press upon him the following exhortations: Love God with all thy heart: Be filled with benevolence toward all men : Do good to your very enemies ? All this would be only commanding a rebel to seek bappiness in the presence of a prince, whose indig. nation he has justly merited: it would be urging a covetous man to sacrifice his interests, not only to indifferent persons, but to his implacable adversaries. To effect so desirable a change in the buman heart, motives and assistance are as absolutely necessary, as counsels and precepts.
Here the doctrines of the gospel comes in to the succour of morality. But how shall we sufficiently adore that incomprehensible Being, who has demonstrated to us, by the mission of his beloved Son, that the divine nature is love! Or, how shall we refuse any thing to this gracious Redeemer, who clothed himself with mortality that he might suffer in our stead! All the doctrines of the gospel have an immediate tendency to promote the practice of morality. That of the incarnation, which serves as the basis of the New Testament, expresses the benevolence of the Supreme Being in so striking a manner, that every sinner who cordially receives this doctrine, is constrained to surrender his heart unreservedly to God. His servile fear is changed into filial reverence, and his aversion into fer. vent love. He is overwhelmed with the greatness of benefits received, and, as the only suitable return for mercies of so stupendous a nature, be sacrifices at once, all his darling vices. “18 the son of God has united himself to my sallen nature," such a humble believer will naturally say, “ I will not rest, till I feel myself united to this divine Mediator: if he comes to put a period to my misery, nothing shall ever put a period to my gratitude: if he has visited me with the beams of his glory, it shall henceforth become my chief concern to reflect those beams upon all around me, to his everlasting praise."
The memorable sacrifice, which was once offered up in the person of Christ, as a propitiation for our sins, is abundantly efficacious in the same respect. This mysterious offering sets forth the malignity of our offences, and represents the compassion of the Deity in so overpowering a manner, that, while it fills us with borror for sin, it completely triumphs over the obdyacy of our hearts. From the moment we come to a real perception of this meritorious sacrifice, from that momcat we die to sin, till "rising again