« PreviousContinue »
stands on such a foundation. And how foolish are they, who thus build on the sand; who seem never to have considered that the covenant of works was not given to man when he was dead in trespasses and sins, but when he was alive to God; when he knew no sin, but was holy as God is holy; who forget that it was never designed for the recovery of the favour and image of God once lost; but only for their continuance and increase till they should have been completed in life everlasting.
Finally, therefore, we must infer from this subject the wisdom of trusting to the covenant of grace. It is wisdom, my brethren, to aim at the best end by the best means: now, the best end which any creature can pursue is happiness in God; and therefore, the best end a fallen creature can pursue is the recovery of his favour and image. But the best, the only method revealed unto man by which he may be reconciled to God, and be restored to his image in righteousness, and true holiness is the covenant of grace or mercy revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ; for," saith the Scrip
ture, there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we can be saved."
Whoever therefore, my brethren, is desirous of being restored to the favour of God, whoever is desirous of being healed of his spiritual diseases, let him be encouraged by the subject before us; let him go in faith, like the distressed father, and spread all his sorrows before his Saviour; like him, renouncing every other dependence, let his prayer be, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief." And know for your encouragement, that there are no sins so heinous or so numerous, but the power of Christ can pardon them; no habits so confirmed, no spiritual maladies so malignant, but the power of Christ can heal them; for," saith our Saviour, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."
DISCOURSE III. ·
ON THE DOCTRINE OF GOOD WORKS.
"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.
HAVING in a former discourse on these words made use of them to show that Christ our Saviour is the meritorious, and faith the instrumental cause of our salvation, I shall now proceed to direct your attention to the nature of this faith that it is a faith producing obedience.
Faith in general is a dependence on the veracity of another: thus, trust is called faith, because it relies on the truth of a promise. Accordingly, faith in its general sense, as applied to religion, is a firm assent of the mind upon the authority of divine revelation. There are four different kinds of faith alluded to in the sacred scriptures;―an historical faith, a
temporary faith, the faith of miracles, and justifying or saving faith.
Historical faith is a bare assent to the truths revealed in scripture, without those truths having their proper influence on the conduct. Of this kind of faith it is that St. James speaks in the second chapter of his epistle. "Thou believest that there is one God; the devils also believe, and tremble:" that is, they are fully persuaded that there is a God, that Christ is the Son of God, and that he shall be their judge. Hence, in the eighth chapter of St. Matthew, when our Lord was about to cast out the evil spirits," they cried out, saying, what have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?"
Temporary faith, is that which our Saviour speaks of in the parable of the sower. that received the seed into stony places, is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it, yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."
The faith of miracles, is that of which our Saviour and the apostle Paul speak, in the 17th chapter of St. Matthew, and the 13th chapter of St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians. 66 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence unto yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Again, "Though I have all faith," saith the apostle, "so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."
Justifying or saving faith, the nature of which we are now considering, is in its general sense that which is defined by the apostle, in the 11th chapter of his epistle to the Hebrews, where he saith, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;" that is, a divine evidence and conviction (for, the word in the original language means both,) of things not seen, not perceivable, either by the sight, or by any of the external senses. It is to the spiritual what sense is to the natural world: it is that evidence