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HISTORICAL ESSAY

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Upon the importance and harmony of the two gospel

precepts, Believe and Obey; and upon the fatal confequences that flow from parting Faith and Works.

HEN the gospel is considered as opposed to

the error of the pharisees, and that of the antinomians, it may be fummed up in the two fol. lowing propofitions: (1) In the day of conversion, we are saved freely as finners [i. e. made freely para takers of the priviledges that belong to our gospel difpensation in the church militant) thro' the merits of Christ, and by the instrumentality of a living faith. (2) In the day of judgment we shall be saved freely as faints, [i. e. made freely partakers of the priviledges of our gospel dispensation in the church triumpliant) thro' the merits of Christ, and by the evidence of evangelical works. Whence it follows : (1) that nothing can absolutely hinder our justification in a gospel day, but the want of true faith ; and (2) that nothing will abfolutely hinder our justification in the day of judgment, but the want of good works. If I am not mistaken, all the evangelical do&rine of faith and works turns upon those propositions. They exaclly answer to the grand directions of the gospel. Wilt thou enter into Christ's sheepfold? Believe. Wilt thou stay there ? Believe and obey. Wilt thou be numbered among his sheep in the great day? Endure unto the end : Continue in well doing : that is, Persevere in faith and obedience.

To believe then and obey, or as Solomon expresses it, To fear God and keep his commandments, is the whole duty of man. Therefore a professor of the faith without genuine obedience, and a pretender to obedience

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without genuine faith, equally miss their aim; while a friend to faith and works put in their proper place, a poffeffor of the faith which works by love, hits the gospel mark, and fo runs as to obtain the prize : for the same true and faithful Witness spoke the two following, and equally express declarations. He that BELIEVETH on the Son hath everlasting life; and that BELIEVETH nor the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him, John iii. 36. And, The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall come forth, they that have DONE GOOD, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have DONE EVIL, unto the resurrection of condemnation. John v. 29:

See that sculler upon yonder river. The unwea. ried diligence and watchful skill, with which he plies his two oars, points out to us the work and wisdom of an experienced divine. What an even, gentle spring does the mutual effort of his oars give to his boat! Observe him : his right hand never relts, but when the stream carries him too much to che left : he lacks not his left hand, unless he is gone too much to the right; nor has he sooner recovered a just medium, than he uies both oars again with mutual harmony. Suppose that for a conftancy he employed but one, no matter which, what would be the confequence? He would only move in a circle; and if neither wind nor tide carried him along, after an hard day's work he would find himself in the very spot, where he began his idle toil.

This illustration needs very little explaining: I shall just observe that the antinomian is like a sculler, who uses only his right hand car; and the pharisee, like him who plies only the oar in his left hand. One makes an endless bustle about grace and faith, the other aboue charity and works ; but both, after all, find themselves exactly in the same case ; with this single difference, that one has turned from truth to the right, and the other to the left.

Not so the judicious, unbiassed preacher, who will safely enter the haven of eternal reft, for which he and his hearers are bound. He makes an equal use

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of the doctrine of faith and that of works. If at any time he infifts most upon faith, it is only when the ftream carries his congregation opon the pharisaic shallows on the left hand : And if he lays a preponderating stress upon works, it is only when he sees unwary souls fucked into the antinomian whirlpool on the right hand. His skill consilts in fo avoiding one danger as not to run upon the other.

Nor ought this watchful wisdom to be confined to ministers : for tho' all are not called to direct congregations; yeo all moral agents are, and always were, more or less called to direct themselves, that is, to occupy till the Lord comes, by making a proper use of their talents according to the parable, Mat. xxv. 15, to 31. God gave to angels and man“ remigium alarum,the two oars, or if you please, the equal wings of faith and obedience ; charging them to use those grand powers, according to their original wisdom and enlightened conscience. Or, to speak without metaphor, he created them in such a manner, that they believed it their duty, interest, and glory, to obey him without reserve ; and this faith was naturally productive of an universal, delightful, perfect obedience. Nor would they ever have been wanting in practice, if they had not first wavered in principle. But when Lucifer had unaccountably persuaded himself, in part at least, either that obedience was mean, or that rebellion would be advantageous; and when the crafty Tempter had made our first parents believe in part, that if they ate of the forbidden fruit, far from dying they should be as God himself; how possible, how easy was it for them to venture upon an act of rebellion !~By rashly playing with the Serpent, and sucking in the venom of his crafty infinuations, they foon gave their faith a wilful wound, and their obedience naturally died of it: But alas ! it did not die unrevenged; for no sooner had fainting faith given birth to a dead work, than te was destroyed by her spurious offspring. Thus Faith and Obedience, that couple more lovely than David and his friend, more inseparable than Saul B 2

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and Jonathan, in their death were not divided. They even met with a common grave,

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corrupt atrocious breast of a rebellious angel, or of apoftate man.

Nor does St. James give us a less melancholy.account of this fatal event. While faith fumbered, luft conceived, and brought forth fin, and fan finished, braught forth death, the death of faith, and consequently the moral death of angelic spirits and human fouls, who equally live by faith t during their state of probation. So fell Lucifer from heaven, to rule and sage in the darkness of this world : So fell Adam from paradise, to toil and die in this vale of tears : So fell Judas from an apoftolic throne, to hang himself and go to his own place. Nor can

we rise but in a way parallel to that by which they fell. For, as a diselief of our Creator, productive of bad works, funk our first parents ;

so faith in our Redeemer, productive of good works, molt inftrumentally raise their fallen pofterity.

Should you ask, which is moft necessary to salvasion, fuith or svorks ; I beg leave to propose a similar question. Wbich is most essential to breathing, infpiration or expiration ? If you reply, that " The moment either is absolutely at an end, so is the other; and therefore both are equally important;"? I return .exa2?ly the same answer. If humble faitke receives the breath of spiritual life ; obedient love gratefully returns it, and makes way for a fresh supply: when it does pot, the spirit is grieved ; and if this want of co-ope

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+ Faith in God as Creator, Langiver, and Judge, was not dels necessary to Lucifer and Adam in order to their standing in a state of innocence, than Faith in God as Redeemer, Sanétifier, and Rewarder of them that diligently seek him, is necessary to finners, in order to their recovery from a state of guilt ; or to believers in order to avoid relapses and final apoftafy. Faith therefore, so far as it implies an unfhaken confidence in God, and a firm adherence to his will, is as eternal as love and obedience. But when it is considered as the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of thirgs not seen, which are effential properties of a believer's faith in this prelent state of things, it is evident that it will necessarily end in fight, as soon as the curtain of time is drawn up ; and terminate in enjoyment, as soon is God's glory appears without a veil.

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