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The first of these is what the scriptures call the knowledge of salvation, by the remission of sins. That our blessed Lord has purchased this blessing for us, no one can doubt, who duly considers his design in coming into the world: "He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, but it was in order that we might be healed by his stripes." We come unto him deeply guilty, it is true; but he receives us graciously, and loves us freely: So the Apostle says, "Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that by this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified freely from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." And again, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Here we see that every one that believeth is justified, is freely pardoned; and that every one that is justified, hath peace with God: So that we may say upon the same ground that the prophet did, “O Lord, I will praise thee, for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me.'
2. As we are justified by faith, and have peace with God, so it is by the same faith that we are born again, or truly converted; so saith the Apostle, "He that believeth is born of God, and knoweth God:" For although justification and the new-birth are two distinct things in themselves; the one being a relative, the other a real change; the one signifying what God doth for us, in pardoning our sins; and the other what God doth in us, when he renews our souls in righteousness and true holiness: Yet these two blessings are never separated; but he that enjoys the one, enjoys the other also: He who has the peace of God in his conscience, arising from a sense of his interest in Christ, hath also the love of God shed abroad in his heart, and is thereby made holy. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, hath made him free from
the law of sin and death.
3. By faith also, we are spiritually united to our gracious Redeemer, and made one with him: He informs us, I am the vine, ye (that is to say, ye believers) are the branches." Here we learn, that as the branch and the vine are one, so is the believer one with the Lord Jesus:" "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit:" "We are members of his body; of his flesh, and of his bones." So exceedingly near and dear to the holy Jesus is every true believer; and hence saith the Lord," He that touches these, touches the apple of mine eye."
But the branch is not only made one with the vine, but it also receiveth life and continual nourishment from the vine, so that at the proper season of the year, it appears in a state
of natural prosperity; it bears leaves and fruit: So likewise the believer, being spiritually united to Christ, receives spiritual life and nourishment from him; and he bears not only the leaves of a fair outside profession, but the solid, substantial fruits of righteousness and holiness. "As the living Father has sent me," saith the holy Jesus, "and I live by the Father; even so he that eateth me, shall live by me. And again: "Because I live, ye shall live also." Ye shall be quickened and comforted, ye shall be strengthened and established.
4. If the intercourse should be stopped between the branch and the vine, the leaves will wither, and the fruit will fail, and in a little while the branch will be good for nothing, but to be cast into the fire. And will it not be the very same with us, if the intercourse is shut up between Christ and our souls? If we receive no divine supplies from him, our hands will hang down, and our knees will wax feeble; we shall be like Sampson, when shorn of his locks; weak and faint, without spirit or life. Hence we may easily account for that wonderful change, which too often takes place in individuals: We see a person at present full of faith and love, serious and watchful, lively and zealous, holy and heavenly-minded, diligent and constant in all the ordinances of God: We see the same person sometime after; but he is now light and trifling, foolish and vain, careless and secure, and is nothing like the man he was before. The reason of this dreadful change is, the man receives no supplies of light and grace from the Lord Jesus; he finds no access to the throne of grace, but is backsliden from God. O how necessary then to live near to our Redeemer, that we may drink deeper into his Spirit daily!
5. There is the same kind of life in the branch that there is in the vine, only there is a very material difference between the manner of its being in the branch, and its being in the vine. The branch receives it from the vine, not the vine from the branch: The vine would live and flourish, if any particular branch was cut off, but not so the branch; if it was separated from the vine, it would soon die and perish. And it is just the same with Christ and the believer: There is the same kind of life in him that there is in Christ himself, he partakes of a divine nature; but there is a material difference between the manner of its being in Christ, and its being in the believer. If it is in Christ, as its proper root, it is in us only as branches united to that root: It is in Christ, as in its fountain: it is in our souls as we drink of the pure streams of the water of life, sweetly flowing from him. It is in Christ originally; it is in
our souls actually, as we daily receive it from him. Christ would live and flourish, if any one soul whatsoever was sepa rated from him; but this could not be so with us: no, our souls would die of course. Hence we may see the dreadful mistake that the antinomian makes, who tells us, "All my righteousness is in Christ, all my holiness is in my living Head, I am perfect in Christ," and the like. All these expressions may be used either in a very good, or in a bad sense. "All our righteousness is in Christ;" very true, and Christ is made of God to us, wisdom and righteousness." "All our holiness is in our living Head;" yes surely, and we have received it from him: "For we have this treasure in our earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might be of God:" Yea, we are in Christ, and Christ is formed in us the hope of glory.
6. It is by the power of faith, that we are enabled to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil: We fight the good fight of faith, and in due time lay hold on eternal life. With respect to the world: "This is the victory that overcometh the world," saith the Apostle, "even our faith." The frowns of the world have generally been the portion of the children of God, in all ages: And supposing the men of the world to hate, despise, and cast out our name, as evil; by faith we are inspired with courage, with patience, and Christian fortitude; are made willing to endure the reproach of Christ, to bear his cross, and to suffer with him, so that we may reign with him hereafter. We learn of him, to love our enemies; "To do good to them that hate us, and to pray for them who despitefully use and persecute us:" If we are "reviled, we revile not again;" and no longer return "railing for railing, or evil for evil; but contrary-wise blessing." If any one will say, "But I will never be of such a cowardly spirit; no one shall take any liberties with me: if they do, I will let them see, that I know how to defend myself; I will give them as good as they send." All this may be manly enough; but then the matter is, is it Christian? Is it not said, " vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it !" And again: "Avenge not yourselves, neither give place unto wrath!"
But supposing the world should smile upon us, this would be a time of great danger; for as little as many may think of it, the smiles of the world are a thousand times more dangerous than its frowns. Many, while the world frowned upon them, have continued stedfast and immovable, who when it began to smile, have withered away. It is not without good reason that we are taught to pray, "In all time of tribulation, in all time of our wealth, in the hour of death, and in the
day of judgment, good Lord deliver us." But by faith we see the emptiness of all that the world contains: we see vanity and vexation of spirit, wrote by the finger of God, upon every creature, and on all created good; and that all these things, however great and good they may be, however needful, comfortable, and convenient for us, yet they are not our treasure of our happiness: They all perish in the using, and we ourselves are only strangers and sojourners upon earth, and shall very soon have no need of them. Thus does faith raise our minds above this transitory and fluctuating world.
It is by the power of faith that we overcome the devil: so saith the blessed Apostle, "Take unto you the shield of faith, whereby you may quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." Hence we learn, it is the design of God, that we should never be overcome, but that we should always conquer. By faith we derive fresh strength from Christ; we claim the promises, which are made to the tempted, we lay hold upon the truth and faithfulness of God, he makes good his blessed word, and our strength is according to our day: we fight under the banner of Christ, and through him are enabled to conquer all our enemies,
By faith also we overcome the flesh, the remains of the carnal mind, our evil and degenerate nature. By faith we retain a constant power over these inward evils, and look for the destruction of them. Faith views the promises which contain a full salvation, a complete deliverance from every root of bitterness; and hereby we are not only encouraged to stand our ground but to press after entire sanctification of body, soul, and spirit: And we are encouraged the more, as we see deliverance near, our Lord having said, "According to your faith, so shall it be done unto you." Faith fills the soul with lively hopes and earnest expectation, that the Lord will speedily cleanse us from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and stamp his lively image upon our minds.
Faith is to the soul what the feet are to the body. Now the feet are the instruments of motion; so David prays, my soul at liberty, O God, then will I run the way of thy commandments.' By faith we are set at liberty, so that we run without weariness, we serve God chearfully, yea, delightfully, and go unto him for all we want.
Faith is to the soul what the eyes are to the body. By the eye we see the beauty and discern the excellency of all the outward objects that surround us: Thus by the eye of faith we discern the beauty, and the inestimable value of those spiritual blessings contained in the promises of God; and in par
ticular, we see the desirableness of full salvation, of an entire renewal of our hearts; hence lively desires after these things spring up in the mind, we hunger and thirst after righteousness, after all that God has graciously promised in his holy word.
Faith is to the soul what the hands are to the body. With our hands we lay hold upon, or receive any thing, which appears to us desirable: So with the hand of faith we lay hold upon, receive and hold fast whatsoever we see the Lord is waiting to bestow upon us; hence all the promises of God are received by faith, and we are made witnesses of the truth of them.
In a word, faith will bring us safely through this howling wilderness; it will conduct us to the New Jerusalem, and place us before the throne of God, it will join us to the holy, happy society above, and shew us the unclouded face of our highly exalted Saviour: and then it will have done all that it can do: Faith now ends in sight, and hope in everlasting enjoyment.
"The saints, in his presence, receive,
"They reign in the smile of their Lord;
"Is kindled at Jesus's face;
"And all their enjoyment above,
Let every one examine himself, as touching this one thing, whether he enjoys the faith which brings salvation to the soul. Perhaps some will say, "We are not accustomed to this way of speaking; we do not so well understand it; but we are no drunkards, no swearers, sabbath-breakers, or pleasure-takers; we do not liye in the commission of any of these abominable practices, we utterly abhor and detest them all." It would be well if every one could say thus much of himself, with truth, it would be much better living in the world than it is; yet nothing is more certain, than that a person may say all this, and much more of himself, and yet fall far short of faith in Christ,
But perhaps you will say, "Why we can say much more; we constantly attend upon all the ordinances of God, we neglect none of them, whether public or private." This is well, as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough; it leaves the soul destitute of the peace and love of God, resting in its own