Page images
PDF
EPUB

coming of Christ, in the power of his Word and Spirit, to subdue all nations to himself, by the numerous and various plans of Christian en.

de foie ciresdato ing the Word of God, for sending out the Missionaries all lands,- for promoting education at home and abroad, ---for facilitating the progress of the forerunners of the Messiah. Again we may say,

every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all Aesh shall see it together.” The vast improvements in commerce and science, will be auxiliaries to the cause of Christ. The world is in the attitude of waiting and expectation, while the Church stands ready, in the most extensive preparations, for the universal spread of truth and godliness. Look at the fact, that one man has been raised up, in the person of the honoured Carcy, to give the Scriptures à voice in about forty different languages, or dialects. And shall this, and other preparations like it, be in vain ? No,--that is not the way of God's providence, the labour of the Church in his service shall not be in vain. Surely, then, the present is a time when no labours for the cause of Christ should be dimi. bisbed. And passing by every other, it is a time when the press should be especially brought into requisition. Whenever a great effort is made for the cause of Christ, Satan puts forth his power to counteract it, He is doing so now, and perhaps the most powerful weapon be is using, is

How contrary to Christ, and His religion, are the great mass of our periodical publications. The Newspapers of the day are, to a great extent, the abettors of infidelity and irreligion. No doubt, there are many honourable exceptions ; but a great change is needed yet. And it ought to be made speedily. The Reformation was greatly advanced by means of printing, and the same engine ought now to he worked again for the second Reformation. Religious periodicals, in particular, ought to be greatly encouraged ; because it is thus the efforts of Satan will be best met. There are not so many books published now, contrary to true religion, as once were. We have no Hume among us. But lighter and more dangerous productions are very prevalent. These ought to be supplanted by better. Let the Tract be put into the place of the filthy ballad; Jet Newspapers be established, to be conducted on principles strictly religious, as is done in America; let the month ly and weekly publications, in defence of truth and righteousness, be encouraged and circulated. Let the Church bring a cheaper and better article to the market than the world can afford, and it will find pur. chasers. On these principles, we rejoice in the labours of all our reli. gious periodicals, so far as they are true and faithful. And on the same grounds we claim the generous and increased support of the Christian public, in behalf of our own little work. We have, for seven years, sla. boured in it gratuitously and cheerfully; we are willing to continue in the service ; and we say to the friends of Evangelical truth, especially to ministers, and elders, and students, “Come over and help us."?

the press.

END OF VOLUME VII.

[blocks in formation]

* Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts xx. 24.

In the Scriptures, the object of faith is sometimes represeated to be God. “ Without faith it is impossible to please him ; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Heb. ii. 6. In this sense, faith implies a just apprehension of the divine character, with a corresponding confidence in him and submission to him. It is synonymous with trusting in God, the ordinary expression of the Old Testament agreeing to faith in God,—the customary language of the New Testament. More particularly, the special object of faith is the Lord Jesus Christ. “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Whatever knowledge we have of God, whatever confidence we exercise towards him, whatever submission we render to him, arises from the revelation wbich he has been pleased to make of himself in Jesus Christ. It is through him only the sinner has access to God, and, therefore, is he the special object of his faith. It is in this sense we shall at present treat of it, endeavouring simply to expound the comprehensive, accurate, simple, and beautiful definition of it by the West minster Divines. “ Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the Gospel.” Every expression in the definition is fraught with meaning, and we shall closely tollow the train of thought suggested by it.

1. Faith in Jesus Christ is a grace. This term is employed to mark it as a principle wrought in the soul by the power of the Holy Ghost. In this w, it is distinguished from what has been called the faith of miracles and an historical faitb. A man may be endowed with the power of working miracles, while he is not the subject of saving faith. It was so with Judas; and, in the day of judgment, we are informed, many shali say to Cbrist, “Lord, Lord, have we not propbesied in thy name, and in thy name done many wonderful works ?” to

A

whom he will say, *1 never knew you, depart from me, ye

Or a man may be satisfied with the testimony on which a narrative is prop while yet th

t there Zef, and he cious principle in his soul. He may receive the whole Gospel history, without a saving faith in bim who is its great subject. Or he may be convinced by argument, or satisfied by evidence, that the doctrines proposed for his assent, in the Scriptures, are true, while he is destitute of true faith in him who is the substance of them all. Thou believeth that there is one God; thou doest well; Devils also believe and tremble.” James ii. 19. Hence, it is not uncommon to meet with men who clearly apprehend the prominent doctrines of the Bible, are fully satisfied with the reasons that can be urged in support of their truth, are able successfully to defend them, and yet do not live under the power of them, or consistently with them, because they have not saving faith in him to whom they all refer. They allow the doctrines to be true, but do not really believe in him of whom they treat. Now, in opposition to all these counterfeits of faith, we

e teach that it is a grace implanted in the soul by the Holy Spirit. Its seat is the heart. * With the heart man believeth unto righteousness. Rom. x. 10. There is an exercise of the understanding which must be satisfied with reasonable evidence; but there is more,-the accompanying operation of the Spirit, by which the soul is renewed. The belief of the truth and the sanctification of the Spirit” are joined together, so that while the truth is received in faith, the man becomes the temple of the Holy Ghost. The immediate result of faith, or, perhaps more correctly, the accompanying influence of faith, is the new birth. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name, which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John i. 12-13. While the mind is enlightened by faith, the heart is renewed. It is a principle that exerts an influence over the whole man, the understanding, the affections, and the life. It purifies the heart, casting out whatever is contrary to the mind of Christ, who is by it introduced there ; it worketh by love, for the is laid upon every faculty and talent to be employed for his service and glory; and it overcometh the world, for it sees the inscription which it bears, vanity of vanities, and it elevates the soul above it. “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is be that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God guarnist John v. 4, 5. It is upon these grounds that we pronounce faith to be a principle wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit. Thus,

[graphic]

“We are his workmanship, Christ Jesus unto good works." And all this is implied in the definition, that " faith is a grace. eid zot basoge si a VIIBIRO

11. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace.”. In the Scriptures, faith is uniformly associated with salvation. “He that believeth on the Son bath everlasting life.” John iii. 36. Not merely is salvation the design and the end of faith,-it is its present and immediate accompaniment. Wherever faith is, salvation is; the believer is saved. “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, bath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." John v. 24. "He that hath the Son (by faith) hath life.” Ist John v. 12. The believer is in posses. sion of life, or is saved, inasmuch as his sins have been forgiven ; his heart is renewed, the principles of godliness are implanted, and there is a sure provision by which he shall be kept unto the end. Nor have we been left in ignorance of the way in which it is that faith becomes thus effectual. It is simply because by it the soul becomes united to Christ, and this union is as intimate as that which subsists between the vine and the branches, the head and the members of the body, the foundation and the superstructure of the building,—to ali which it is compared in the Scriptures. On account of this union, the sinner is looked upon in Christ, and treated as Christ deserves to be treated, because they are one. His sing are, therefore, all blotted out, having been expiated in the atoning death of Christ; and his person is accepted, because the righteousness of Christ is regarded as his, being imputed to him. A striking illustration of the union between Christ and believers may be observed by comparing Isaiah xlix. 8, with 2d Cor. vi. 2. The very language addressed to Christ in the former, -" In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee,"—is, in the latter, addressed to the believer. This is done upon the principle, that what is said to the head, may be said also to the members. In the prophecy Christ is expressly called Israel, intimating, that as God looks upon Christ, so does he upon the Church and every member of it. It is, indeed, in Christ the Church is seen, and approved, and accepted by God. There is in the account of God an entire identity between the Redeemer and his people. He became man, that he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified might all be of one nature. And, in that nature, whatever he did or suffered is considered as having been done and suffered by them. When he was afflicted, they

suffered with him ;" when he died, they were « crucified with him;" when he obeyed the law, they obeyed in him, and hence the righteousness of saints is called “the righteousness of God;" when he rose again, they are said to be “risen with him

when they pray, he prays in them; and all their trials

[graphic]

and sufferings, to the end of time, he counts his own, saying, " In all your affliction I am afflicted;”, while one of his servants, speaking of bis own triałs, says of them, " I rejoice in my sufferings

for you, and fill up that which is bebind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake, which is the Church.” Col. i. xxix. At the same time, a practical and healing virtue accompanies the principle of faith; for, as the branch is nourished by the vine, so the singer grows in grace, by virtue of his connexion with Christ. "Out of bis fulness have we all received,;" and grace for grace that is, not merely abundance of grace, but grace answering to grace,-a grace in the soul of the believer, corresponding to every grace in the moral character of Christ, patient as he is patient, pure as be is pure, holy as he is holy, and benevolent as he is benevolent. Faith is, therefore, treated in the Seriptures as having a twofold operation, justifying the person and sanctifying the soul; justifying, by laying hold of the righteousness of Christ, and sanctifying, by its practical influence on the beart. In the former operation it carries the sipner wholly out of himself, and he is “justified by faith without the deeds of the law;" for" the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, is un. to all, and upon all, them that believe;" and in the latter it lays its hand on the wbole man, and engages him heartily and wholly in the service of God. Thus, the sinner is altogether saved by faith. And O! how delightful and mighty the in. fluence which is exerted by this principle over the life of map. See this as it is exemplified in some of the ancient worthies. “By faith, Noah being warned of God, prepared an ark to the saving of his house ; by faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went iiby faith, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaob's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a seasop; by faith, Gideon, and Barak, and Samson, and Jephthae, and David, and Samuel, and the prophets, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, while others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, and bonds and imprisonment-were stoned, were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword, wandered about in sheep-skins, and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; they wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Heb. ii, 7+-38. Under all these difficulties and duties, faith was the principle by which they were directed and sustained. Surely, it is not too much to say we are saved by faith, and to acquiesce in the definition, that it is "a saving grace.”:vist ili usi 1991875

III. « Faith in Jesus Christ is a gaving grace, whereby. We receive Christ." This is the action or out-going of the principle, as soon as it is produced by the Holy Spirit. It is vari,

« PreviousContinue »