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and to exert our rational faculties, as in the case of any other duty whatsoever. Thus it is written, “ This is his commandment, that ye believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that ye love one another.”
Secondly : The necessity of faith, as the means of being interested in the unspeakable gift of the Father, is plain from this consideration, that till you believe, nothing can be done, that is right in the sight of God. For,“ without faith it is impossible to please God." No acceptable obedience can be fulfilled, till faith in Christ is exercised. But, let a man receive the gift by believing, and he sets to his seal that God is true. Let men pretend that this is licentiousness as they please ; but the godly, whose judgment is alone worth regarding, in the things of God, know that He will fulfil all the promises of the covenant of grace. “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts,” is among these promises. Safely may we leave to God the consequences, which he has taken upon himself. “The Grace of God, which bringeth Salvation,” must and will “teach men to live soberly, righteously, and godly.”
To finish then the doctrine of this head. He that would possess this unspeakable gift, must believe, and by believing receive it. Inquire, I beseech you, how it is with you ? Have you, with these views of Jesus as a Saviour, fled to him for refuge? Have you received him ? Have you found any beginnings and first fruits of this life eternal in your soul? If so, they are the earnests of more to come. For, “ the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
Happy are you if Christ, God's unspeakable gift, is yours. And he bids you, by the Apostle Paul, to be “ confident that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ : all things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
But if you are to this day utter strangers to this gift; if hitherto you have seen no beauty in Christ, that you
should desire him, what shall I say to you? Year after year, God has offered to save you ; yet you receive him not, you will not believe in him: Therefore the imputed righteousness and eternal life, which you despise, is not yours. A little breath only keeps you out of Hell. You will have nothing to do with the covenant of grace; and therefore you are under the covenant of works, and it will ruin you
“ Say I these things as a man, or saith not the word of God the same also ? " He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. Oh! Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and so ye perish from the right way.”
Lastly : It is asked, Are men called upon to do any thing else besides believing? Yes, they are. When through believing they are restored to life and peace and the knowledge of God, they are called on to be thankful. “Thanks be unto God." Then God gets his glory upon them, “the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he has made them accepted in the beloved.” This is the debt they will be paying to all eternity. Thus God hath all the honour of our salvation, and we the comfort.
“ Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” To employ your renewed faculties to the honour of God, and to serve him for ever with love, in thought, word, and deed,—this is the way to express your thankfulness. For to pretend to thank God with words, and yet dishonour him with our conduct, is impudent hypocrisy. Thus have I at length shewn the force and the propriety of the Apostle's words in the text, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable Gift.”
I conclude with a word of application. First; I would speak to all those who are dead in sins. Do you ever thank God for the unspeakable gift of his Son? Do any ever hear you speak the hearty language of love? Do your actions shew it? Are scoffing and sneering at faith in Christ, and at those who profess it, marks of your regard to Christ? Are your coldness and neglect of all the ways of openly knowing Christ, signs of your hearts being affected either with your need of such a Salvation, or the worth of Christ as your Saviour ?—To come closer still --- Did your hearts ever commune with God seriously on the footing of this new covenant? Did you ever put your trust in Christ so as to commit your souls to him in direct acts of faith? Know you any thing of the peace or joy in believing, so largely spoken of in Scripture? As your works are dead, so is your faith. I would tenderly entreat you not to ruin your souls. Christ is offered to your acceptance; you are lost without him. All excuses arising from the sense of difficulties, in the way of religion, are out of the question ; because
he offers to be all, and to do all for and in you.
Will you accept this offer, or will you not? Shall Christ, this day, be your Prophet, Priest, and King? What say your hearts? Do weigh this matter. It deserves private prayer and meditation, and is not to be treated in a careless way. If you receive him, he certainly will do his part. If you receive him not, your ruin will be at your own door.
Secondly; Let humble souls, sensible of their lost state by nature, fly with speed to Christ. He invites you. Boldly venture on him, and remain in that city of refuge, where you will be safe.
Thirdly; Let believers study always to be thankful. Then God gains his end, the praise of the glory of his grace. Amongst other ways of shewing your gratitude, neglect not that of liberality in relieving the poor, according to your ability. The text is brought in on occasion of this subject. The motive is thus expressed in the foregoing chapter.
ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor,
that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
THE NATURE OF FAITH.
Heb. ix: 1.
Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen.
The Apostle had been observing, at the close of the foregoing chapter, that “the just shall live by faith," and he spake of true Christians as of those who believed to the saving of the soul. Here he tells us what faith itself is. It substantiates things hoped for, it realizes things invisible; giving such evidence of their reality to the mind, that the believer is influenced as if he saw the objects; and thus he walks by faith, as if by sight. And the instances which the Apostle mentions in this chapter, in which he records the Worthies of the Old Testament, who lived by faith, illustrate this definition. Thus Moses “endured as seeing him who is invisible.” “ Noah being warned of God of things not yet seen," saw the flood and the destruction of the world by it, in so strong a light, that, “ moved with fear, he prepared an ark for the saving of his house." He, who believes God aright, hears, sees, feels, as it were, his word to be true, both the promises and the threatenings ; believing both, and acting upon both. Not that faith is, even in the truest Christians, equal