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not to fear, for it is the father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom.
“ Our safety, my dear sir, does not depend on our frames, but on the faithfulness of God in Jesus Christ. This is our great mercy; for a believer, in the feelings of his heart, is one of the most variable creatures in the world ; to-day joy brightens in his countenance, to-morrow he bursts into tears. Yet, however variable he may be, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, or rather this inscription, the Lord knoweth them that are his. Be thankful, therefore, if there be found in you any good thing toward the Lord God of Israel, for he will never desert you. He will graciously fan the spark, if it be no more, nor quit the merciful employment, until that spark, bursting into a flame, shall mingle with the fires of the seraphim."
MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS ON SAVING FAITH.
To possess clear, scriptural, consistent views of saving faith, is of the utmost importance. Our Saviour says, “ this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” The consequences resulting to those who have this faith, as well as to those who shall remain without it, will be eternal, “ He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not, shall he damned.” " What must I do to be saved?” is an interesting question. The answer given to it, by unerring wisdom, is, that we “ believe in the Lord Jesus Christ;” and then the encouragement to a compliance with this direction immediately follows, which is a divine promise, that we “shall be saved.”
Faith is a transaction of the mind and heart with God, about our eternal salvation. It is the exertion and desire of the soul, in coming to Christ. Thereby we cordially accept of Jesus, as our own Saviour, and give ourselves to him, to be his servants forever. For our imitation, and to their honour, it is recorded, 2 Cor. viii. 5, that the members of the churches of Macedonia “ gave their ownselves to the Lord.” A great diversity of metaphors is used, in the sacred writings, to illustrate the nature of this grace; such as, looking, coming, flying, &c.
I select three phrases, used in the scriptures, for the illustration of saving faith.
1. It is represented as the act of a soul, when receiving Christ. John i. 12. “ As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” Wherever the gospel is preached, there Jesus Christ and his salvation are freely offered to all, without exception, who hear it. Never was human benevolence so freely and sincerely exerted, to procure relief to indigence and distress, as is displayed by God in the plan of redemption. The great Jehovah has offered up his own Son as a sacrifice for sin, that through him, his rebel enemies may obtain pardon, peace, and glory! Having made this offering, and having pointed out the way to eternal happiness, it only remains for sinners to determine if they will accept of it; for it is only by receiving Christ, as he is offered to us in the gospel, that we can make him our own. By faith we live upon him, are nourished by him, and make use of him, for “ wisdom, righteousness, sanctifi. cation, and redemption.”
2. Faith is represented, John vi. 53, as the act of eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of the Son of man.” Happy they, who hunger and thirst after righteousness; happy they, who feed upon the true bread which came down from heaven! However, as it is not the act of taking, or eating food, which nourish. eth, but the food when taken; so it is not any intrinsic excellence in faith, viewed simply as our act, which saves us, but the merits and grace of Christ, applied, used, and digested by faith. By it, we plead the righteousness of Christ for our justification; and live upon his grace and fulness, for our sanctification. It opens a communication between heaven and earth. It conducts its pos. sessor directly to the mediatorial treasures of him in whom it hath pleased the Father, that “ all fulness should dwell;" of him “ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The conversation of the good man, is in heaven; to that country he trades. The road, between Christ's inexhaustible fulness and his own penury and emptiness, he travels with delight. He views Jesus Christ as the divinely appointed trustee of the covenant of grace; and, he comes to him, firmly believing that he possesses a boundless store of spiritual blessings, and that he possesses them for the express purpose of bestowing them upon every one who shall faithfully apply for them.
3. Faith, being the credit given to the divine testimony, is denominated “ BELIEVING.” Mat. xxi. 22. “ Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
The Lord means as he speaks, and will do as he hath said. He is not a man that he should lie; for “ righteousness is the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” We have an example in the third chapter of Jonah, which illustrates the nature of that credit which we are to give to God's declarations. Directed by the Lord, Jonah cried, “ Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” “ So the people of Nineveh believed God;" that is, they gave full credit to God's message, delivered to them by Jonah. Another example occurs in Acts xxvii. Aster Paul had appealed to Cesar, and when he was on his voyage toward Rome, he and those who were with him were threatened with a watery grave. The Lord, who frequently appears for the deliverance of his own people, in the very article of extreme danger, sent his angel to communicate the following intelligence. “ Fear not Paul, thou must be brought before Cesar, and lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.” Whereupon Paul animated his fellow-passengers, saying, “ Be of good cheer, for I believe God, that it shall be, even as it was told me.” God hath said it, I believe it. A filial, unsuspecting confidence in the Lord, as inviolably faithful and true, is signally pleasing to him, and infallibly secures our own eternal happiness. God has placed his word on a foundation which cannot be shaken, and on that we may safely fix our faith. His promises, confirmed by his oath, are exhibited to gain our unwavering reliance. “ Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fed for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us."
“ The gospel bears my spirit up;
Many doubts arise in the minds of anxious inquirers, with re. spect to their right, or warrant, to receive or believe in Christ; but how divinely encouraging are the means employed by the Lord to remove these doubts? “ Buy wine and milk without money and without price. Come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Christ is now riding through the evangelised world, in the chariot of the gospel, and as he passes along, he exhibits to all a pardon, purchased and sealed with his own blood. He, affectionately, asks, “O sinners, who among you desires a pardon?” Jesus the redeemer, came to save sinners--the very chief of sinners; and the invitations given, and the offers made, in the scriptures, authorise them to come to him for salvation, without any
discouragement. When you 'meet a beggar and offer to relieve his wants, his unworthiness, however great, does not preclude his right to receive the good which you tender him: neither, doth your unworthiness annihilate your right to believe in Christ, as your own particular Saviour, and to receive the offers and invitations made to you in his gospel. He promises, not only to accept you, when you shall come, but also to guide you through life, to support you in affliction and death, and to be your portion in eternity. His own words are, “ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee;" which, according to Dr. Doddridge's emphatical translation, are, “I will not-I will not leave thee; I will never, never, never forsake thee.”.
Faith presupposes a conviction of our apostacy from God, and of our consequent depravity and wretchedness. For the whole need not a physician but the sick. Before coming to Christ, by faith, we must feel, that we are exposed to God's wrath, and to the curse of his broken law; that, by our personal exertions, we cannot answer the requirements of that law; and that there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
The kind invitations, given in the gospel, are intended to embolden trembling inquirers to fly for safety to the true city of refuge, and also to leave impenitent sinners without excuse. But, alas! the tender proposals of salvation, which are made to us in the gospel, will increase our guilt and inflame our misery, unless we accept them. O careless sinner! by your unbelief you make God a liar. Undervaluing the gospel is a more heinous crime than the violation of the law; for, in the gospel, God is making his last effort to reclaim you, and, therefore, if you continue to disregard it, there remains no more sacrifice for your sin. « If,” saith Christ, “ I had not come and spoken unto you, you had not had sin, but now you have no cloak for your sin.” What will it avail you, that Christ hath bled to death on the cross, unless you come to him? Will a proclamation of pardon, issued to rebels, from competent authority, profit them, unless they comply with the terms on which the indemnity is offered? Will wealth proffered to an indigent man enrich him, if he do not accept it? Will a suitalıle garment provided, but not put on, cover or warm you? Will food exhibited, but not eaten, satiate a craving appetite? Neither, my brethren, will a Saviour, mercifully provided for you, and tenderly proposed to you, rescue you from eternal death, and procure for you everlasting life, unless, by faith, you make him your own.
The following sentiments of Lequinio, a member of the national convention of France, are too remarkable to pass unnoticed, and will, I think, make an interesting article for your magazine. Speaking of Jesus Christ, in his late book “ On Prejudice,” cap. 26, he expresses himself thus:
“ He called himself the Son of God! Who among us dare say that he is not? He always displayed virtue; he always spoke according to the dictates of reason; he always preached up wisdom; he sincerely loved all men, and wished to do good even to his executioners; he developed all the principles of moral equity, and of the purest patriotism; he met danger undismayed; he showed himself averse to the great, who in all ages have made a bad use of their power; he described the hardheartedness of the rich; he attacked the pride of kings; he dared to resist even the face of tyrants; he despised glory and fortune; he was sober; he solaced the indigent; he taught the unfortunate how to suffer;. he sustained weakness; he fortified decay; he consoled misfortune, and knew how to shed tears with them that wept; he taught inen to subjugate their passions, to think, to reflect, to love one another, and to live happily together. He was hated by the powerful men whom he offended, and persecuted by the wicked whom he unmasked; and he dierl under the indignation of that blind and deceived multitude for whom he had always lived." P.
The above extract is not introduced into this work, (nor can we suppose our correspondent intended it) for the purpose of rescuing its author from the charge of infidelity which has long existed against him. Such an attempt would, unquestionably, fail. But we place it before our readers, as the testimony of an enemy to the divinity of our Saviour, when called to speak of his Life and character.
REVELATION xiii. 8.
Whoever peruses the holy scriptures with that temper and attention, with which they ought always to be read, will remark innumerable expressions calculated to alarm his fears, excite his hopes, and kindle in his breast a fervid spirit of piety and devotion.