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enabled to form of the attributes or perfections of the Divine Being.
Hence any man who is familiar with subjects of controversy, will find throughout our liturgy and articles, that where there seems to be a weight thrown into the scale of one party, there is another equal to it thrown into the scale of those who hold doctrines directly opposite; and that our church draws out no system in favour of any particular party exclusively. That this assertion is true cannot admit of a better proof than the various and contradictory conclusions which have been drawn by party men, from the articles and liturgy. A dissenter from the established church will tell you that our church savours of popery; some clergymen of the establishment consider its principles to be Arminian; others again think they are Calvinistic; whilst on the other hand, it is but a few years since, that several of the clergy seceded from the establishment, because they imagined that its principles were not Calvinistic enough. In fact, a man who is over zealous for his particular principles, or who is ignorant of the history of our articles or liturgy, or who is unhappily of a contentious and party spirit, may find in the principles of our church, as he may find in the scriptures themselves, sufficient to give a plausible appearance to any system of opinions he may choose to adopt, whether he be a disciple of Calvin, a follower of Arminius, or an advocate of the church of Rome: at the same time, that it must appear to every candid, well-informed, sincere, and impartial inquirer, that it could never have been the intention either of the scriptures or of our church to promote the establishment of any human system whatever.
ON THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH.
"Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.-MARK ix. 23—24.
MIRACLES were supernatural events performed by our Saviour, and his disciples, to prove the truth of the Christian religion. Hence, when John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to inquire of our Lord, "Art thou He that should come, or look we for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go, and show John again those things which ye do hear and see. The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and to the poor the gospel is preached." Thus our Saviour's miracles not only proved his mission, and the truth of his doctrine, but were also highly illustrative of
divine mercy and compassion. They were wrought for purposes the most benevolent; for the alleviation of human misery under every form, conveying at the same time much important instruction, as will appear in the farther consideration of our subject.
The miracle connected with the text, and which is also related in the seventeenth chapter of St. Matthew, and the ninth chapter of St. Luke, was the casting out an evil spirit from a child, which the disciples of our Lord, through unbelief, had been unable to effect; but which our Saviour performed at the earnest prayer of the father of the child, on beholding his faith. The design of the miracle was to reprove the unbelief of the people and of his disciples; and to illustrate the efficacy of that faith by the exercise of which the performance of the miracle was obtained. Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things are possible unto him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief: and Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father;
and they were all amazed at the mighty power of God." My object, however, in the present discourse, will not be to dwell on the miracle itself; but viewing it as illustrative of the saving power of our Lord, and of the efficacy of faith, I shall make use of it to show, that as Christ is the only procuring cause of our salvation, so faith producing obedience hath been in all ages since the fall, the only method of obtaining the favour of God.
I am to show, in the first place, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only procuring or meritorious cause of our salvation.
In the image of God was man made; holy, as he that created him is holy; perfect in his degree, as his father in heaven was perfect.
To man thus upright and perfect, God gave a perfect law, to which he required a full and a perfect obedience. No allowance was made for the least deviation, as indeed there was no necessity, man being altogether equal to the task assigned him; being created with the ability to obey, but liable to fall.
Such then was the state of man in Paradise. By the free and sovereign love of God he was
holy and happy.
As God is love, so man
dwelling in love dwelt in God, and God in him; and in this life of love progressively increasing in happiness, he was to have continued for ever if he remained obedient; but if disobedient, he was to forfeit all. "In that day, saith God, thou shalt surely die." Man did disobey God, and then the sentence began to take place, of which he was forewarned. The moment he transgressed his soul was alienated from God. His body became corruptible, and being already dead in the spirit, dead to God, and dead in sin, he hastened onward towards death eternal.
Thus "by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin;" and so death passed upon all men, as being contained in him who was our common father and representative. Thus through the offence of one, all became dead to God, dead in sin, dwelling in a corruptible and mortal body, and under the sentence of death eternal. For "as by one man's disobedience all were made sinners; so by that offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation." In this state we were, even all mankind, when "God so loved the world that