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fuges, how specious its pretences;-and then to deny that faith is a supernatural gift, is to reject the concurring testimony of reason, of Scripture, of daily observation, of actual experience.
Saint Paul frequently intimates that faith is never a solitary attribute: he never separates it from humility, it being indeed the parent of that self-abasing grace. He also implies that faith is not, as some represent it, a disorderly, but a regulating principle, when he speaks of the law of faith, of the obedience of faith. Faith and repentance are the two qualities inseparably linked in the work of our salvation; repentance teaching us to abhor ourselves for sin,-faith, to go out of ourselves for righteousness. Holiness and charity Paul exhibits as its inseparable concomitants, or rather its necessary productions, their absence clearly demonstrating the want of the generating principle. May we not hence infer that wherever faith is seen not in this company, she is an impostor.
Of the great "mysteries of godliness" enumerated by Paul in his Epistle to Timothy, he shews by his arrangement of the five particulars which compose them, that God believed on in the world is the climax of this astonishing process*. And it may be deduced from his general writings, that the reason why so many do not more anxiously labour for eternal happiness, is, because they do not practically believe it. The importance of this fundamental principle is so great, that our spiritual enemy is not so perseveringly bent on deter
* 1 Tim, ch. 2.
ing us from this duty, or detaching us from that virtue, as on shaking the foundations of our faith. He knows if he can undermine this strong hold, slighter imped⚫iments will give way. As the first practical instance of human rebellion sprung from unbelief, so all subsequent obedience, to be available, must spring from faith.
Saint Paul shews faith to be a victorious principle: There is no other quality which can enable us to overcome the world. Faith is the only successful competitor with secular allurement. The world offers things great in human estimation, but it is the property of this grace to make great things look little; it effects this purpose by reducing them to their real dimensions. Nothing but faith can shew us the emptiness of this world's glory at the best, because nothing else views it in perpetual contrast with the blessedness of heaven; nothing else can give us such a feeling conviction of its brevity at the longest, as that principle which habitually measures it with eternity. It holds out the only light which shews a Christian that the universe has no bribe worth his acceptance, if it must be obtained at the price of his conscience, at the risk of his soul.
Saint Paul demonstrates in his own instance, that faith is not only a regulating and conquering, but a transforming grace. It altered the whole constitution of his mind. It did not dry up the tide of his strong affections, but diverted them into a channel entirely different. To say all in a word, he was a living exemplification of the great Scripture doctrine which he taught-faith made him, emphatically, a New Man.
Thus his life as well as his writings prove that faith is an operating principle, a strenuous, influential, vigilant grace. If it teach that self-abasement which makes us lowly in our own eyes, it communicates that watchfulness which preserves us from the contamination of sin, a dread of every communication which may pollute. Its disciple is active as well as humble. Love is the instrument by which it works. But that love of God with which it fills the heart, is not maintained there in indolent repose, but quickened for the service of man. Genuine faith does not infuse a piety which is unprofitable to others, but draws it out in incessant desires and aims to promote the general good.
The Apostle knew that the faith of many is rather drowsy than insincere, rather slothful than hypocritical; that they dread the consequences it involves more than the profession it requires. He is therefore always explicit, always mindful to append the effect to the cause. Hence we hear so much from him and the other apostles of the fruits of faith, of adding to faith virtue; and it is worthy of remark, that in the roll of Saints, those spirits of renown in the ancient church, to which allusion has been made,-the faith of every one is illustrated, not only by some splendid act, but by a life of obedience.
We may talk as holily as Paul himself, and by a delusion not uncommon, by the very holiness of our talk, may deceive our own souls; but we may rest assured that where charity is not the dominant grace, faith is not the inspiring principle. Thus, by examining our
lives, not our discourse, we shall "prove whether we are in the faith."
Though a genuine faith is peremptory in its decision and resolute in its obedience, yet it deeply feels the source from whence it is derived. In that memorable instance of Abraham's faith, in the very act, instead of valuing himself on the strength of his convictions, he gave glory to God; and it is obvious that the reason why faith is selected as the prime condition of our justification, is, because it is a grace which, beyond all others, gives to God the entire glory; that it is the only attribute which subducts nothing for, derives nothing from self. Why are Christian and believer convertible terms, if this living principle be no ground-work of his character. If, then, it supplies his distinguishing appellation, should it not be his governing spring of action?
Paul is a wonderful instance of the power of this principle. That he should be so entirely carried out of his natural character; that he who, by his persecuting spirit, courted the favour of the intolerant Sanhedrim, should be brought to act in direct opposition to their prejudices, supported by no human protection, sustained alone by the grace of Him whom he had so stoutly opposed; that his confidence in God should rise in proportion to his persecutions from man; that the whole bent of his soul should be set directly contrary to his natural propensities, the whole force of his mind and actions be turned in full opposition to his temper, education, society, and habits; that not only
his affections should be diverted into a new channel, but that his judgment and understanding should sail in. the newly directed current; that his bigotry should be transformed into candour, his fierceness into gentleness, his untameable pride into charity, his intolerance into meekness,-can all this be accounted for on any principle inherent in human nature, on any principle uninspired by the spirit of God?
After this instance,-and, blessed be God, the instance, though superior, is not solitary; the change, though miraculous in this case, is not less certain in others,-shall the doctrine so exemplified continue to be the butt of ridicule? While the scoffing infidel virtually puts the renovation of the human heart nearly on a footing with the metamorphoses of Ovid, or the transmigrations of Pythagoras, let not the timid Christian be discouraged; let not his faith be shaken, though he may find that the principle to which he has been taught to trust his eternal happiness, is considered as false by him who has not examined into its truth; that the change, of which the sound believer exhibits so convincing an evidence, is derided as absurd by the philosophical sceptic, treated as chimerical by the superficial reasoner, or silently suspected as incredible by the decent moralist.