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fell ; and so sure as the redeemed from earth are confirmed in glory, they are perfected and confirmed in faith. It is the security of the heaven of the redeemed, that God will be by them never again doubted. Although they see clouds and darkness round about him; although they see a world on fire ; although they look down from their shining battlements, and see the smoke of the torments of the wicked ascending up forever and ever, yet will not the harmonies of those notes be disturbed, which ever spring afresh and swell into rapture from confidence in God:—Still does faith sweetly sing, and sing forever, “Allelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Now evangelical faith is this same principle, in the mind of the sinner, directed to his Saviour. It is confidence in God as a REDEEMING God,—just the confidence which the sinner needs. It is sometimes called the instrument, which lays hold of and appropriates the righteousness of Christ to the nourishment of the soul, like that with which we receive our food. It does indeed lay hold of and appropriate the righteousness of Christ, but it is something more than a mere instrument. It is a living and glorious GRACE—itself a moral virtue, and the enthroned queen of all other virtues. 2. Faith in Christ is the antagonist of all sin. There is no one sin of the human heart, which this does not tend to expel. It begins with subjecting the creature to God. The wisdom, the will, the righteousness, of the creature, are by it all renounced, and the wisdom, the will, the righteousness, of God, set up in the soul. Thus pride, vanity, selfishness, those master-passions of unregeneracy—are by it wounded unto death. From the moment faith in Christ begins to live, these begin to die. The lower vices—the vices of the flesh—receive their death-wound from the same source. Looking by faith on the agonies of Gethsemane and the blood of Calvary, brings upon them a shaming and withering rebuke, and calls up in the regenerate soul the noble purpose—
* Rev. xix. 6. f Alexander.
“Yes, my Redeemer, they shall die;
Nor will I spare those guilty sins,
It is impossible to make a righteousness of faith in Christ; for the very nature of faith in Christ implies a renunciation of all righteousness but his. A selfrighteous faith in Christ, is an impossibility. We might as well speak of a square circle, or of a long point. No other proposed means of justification can claim this. It is possible to make a righteousness of baptism, of supererogation, of penance, of deeds of law. There is not necessarily in these, as in the case of faith, any going out of self to Christ. They may therefore be substituted, in the place of Christ's righteousness, as the foundation of hope ; and when not preceded and dictated by faith in Christ, they do so. In the language of the apostle, they “frustrate the grace of God.” Hence, in the matter of justification, they must all be
* Gal. ii. 21.
swept away, and the guilty soul must go forth as a beggar, naked and alone, without money and without price, to embrace the righteousness of Christ. It must be completely justified without these, or it is not justified at all. Christian ordinances and deeds of law, however important in their place, are quite out of their place, when made the condition of justification. Thus does justification by faith take the very citadel of sin– self-righteousness—and having entered the castle and bound the strong man, it has only to go on establishing its dominion and perfecting its work, until every enemy shall be forever expelled. 3. Faith in Christ is the producer of all other graces. As it kills every sin, so it brings into existence every virtue. In the language of the apostle, it “works by love and purifies the heart.” It is an active principle —It “works.” And it works ever with its kindred grace—its first born child. It works by love. When a man has truly given himself by faith into the hands of Christ, he truly loves him ; and lowing Christ, he loves his cause and his people. The liveliest and deepest sympathies of his nature go over to him, with whom he has embarked his eternal interests. Faith in Christ also produces gratitude. No sooner does faith receive the blessings of redeeming love, than the soul feels a sense of gratitude to him who hath redeemed it to God by his blood. The same faith produces also meekness, humility, peace, joy, hope, forgiveness, spiritual mindedness, and every heaven-born affection. As faith itself is of heaven, so all its works are heavenly. Now this is something
which baptism, penance, supererogation, works of law, and the like, cannot do. Hence the apostle says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision any thing; but faith which worketh by love.” When justifying faith in Christ is exercised, and vigorously maintained, all the other graces will as invariably follow as effects in nature follow their appropriate causes. Not more sure is the rising of the sun to produce light, and the warm beams and showers to revive the vegetable creation, than is the dawn of justifying faith in the soul to cause all the graces of piety to spring up and grow. 4. Faith in Christ as the condition of justification, gives all the glory of our salvation to God. No other condition does this. The very idea of faith implies a going out of ourselves, and an acknowledging of Christ as the source of all our hopes. It turns away the eye, the finger, and the tongue, from all other objects, and directs them to Christ alone. It fills the eye with Christ, and only Christ, as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of salvation ;-it points the finger to Christ, and only to Christ, as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world;—it raises the song of praise to Christ, and only to Christ, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive riches, and honor, and glory, and thanksgiving, and praise, for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”f Now whether this is excellent or not, it is surely scriptural ;-and truly it is very excellent. It is indeed excellent for the sinner thus to have his pride abased, his self-glorying destroyed, his own righteousness cast away as filthy rags,” and to come with a heart to ascribe all praise to whom alone praise is due, and put on the entire and shining robes of his Saviour. This is the very spirit of Christianity;-this is the Christian's glory. 5. This condition of justification is of universal practicability. All can understand it. It requires no uncommon depth of wisdom, or extent of knowledge, L no Plato, to thread the mysteries of transcendental science; no Newton, to scale the heavens; no Locke, to explore the labyrinths of the human understanding. “The word of faith, which we preach, is nigh, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.”f It is as near the unlearned as the learned, and as easily understood by the one as by the other. Indeed it often happens, that the most unlearned learn this sublimest of all knowledge first; and thus does God herein confound the wisdom of the wise, and bring to naught the understanding of the prudent. Nor does it require maturity of years. The lisping infant can understand it, just as well as the man on whose head have lighted the frosts of three score winters. The excellent Richard Cecil could teach it to his little child, as effectually as to the ripest heads of his intelligent congregation. The ignorant and the learned, the young and the old, meet together here; and, as if to make it sure that the latter have no
* Gal. v. 6. f Rev. v. 9.