Imatges de pÓgina

Some are ready to imagine, that, when they have once belie ved in Christ, they have no more ado but to look back on their first closing with Chrift; and upon that act of faith they reft, as their fecurity for life and falvation, without any great concern to repeat and renew it. I am afraid, if this be your way of doing, you are yet firangers both to faith in the fir and after actings of it. Men are called believers, not becaufe they have put forth one fingle act of faith, but because they are or fhould be continually believing. It is true, the firit act of faith ties the knot between Chrift and the foul, that thall, never be loofed through eternity; but where this act of faith has been exerted, there will be frequent attempts towards the repetition of it. Faith is called an "eating the fleth, and drinking the blood of the Son of man." Now, you know, it is not a man's taking one fingle meal in his whole life that will fubfift his body, but he must be eating and drinking every day, and frequently through the day, otherwife his natural life would foon languish: fo here, there must be a continual feeding upon the incarnation and fatisfaction of Chrift, in order to the prefervation and maintenance of the fpiritual life of the foul; the life of the foul can no more be maintained by one act of faith, than the life of the body can be maintained by one meal for any lang fpace of time. Faith is called a "drawing water out of the wells of falvation," If. xii. 3. It will not do our bufinefs to come once to the well, the water in the cistern will foon be spent; and therefore we must be daily coming back to the fountain for new water: fo here, the life of faith is a continual coming to Chrift, and a "receiving out of his fulness grace for grace." Grace received into the veffel of the foul will, like water, foon ftagnate by reafon of the corruption of the veffel, and it will foon be spent ; what we get this day will not ferve us the next: and therefore there must be a continual application to him for new supply, a continued drawing "water out of the wells of falvation." The branches live every day upon their root; the branches draw, and the root communicates fap unto them for their nourishment and growth: fo here, "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye (fays Christ) except ye abide in me.' This continued believing in Chrift is called (Col. ii. 19.) a “holding the head, from which the whole body, as by joints and bands, having nourishment miniftered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." The members of the natural body, they are continually receiving life, and fpirit, and conduct, from their head; fo, by the faith of God's operation, whereby we are united to Chrift, we are continually receiving


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that grace and fulness that is in him, "till we come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the ftature of the fulness of Chrift." And this is the life of faith that I exhort you to, in order to your comfortable journey through the wilderness of this world.

There are two ways by which your life will be maintained and nourished from Chrift through eternity; one in this world, and another in the world to come. So long as we are in this world, we are like children in the mother's belly, entirely nourished and maintained by faith, (like the string by which we are nourished in our mother's belly), which fucks in the life, righteoufnefs, and fulness of Chrift into the foul: but no fooner do we pass out of this world into the life of glory, but the ftring of faith is cut, and then we come to be nourished another way, namely, by immediate vifion of the Lord. As the child is nourished in the womb till it is fully ripe for the birth; fo faith nourishes the foul till it be fully ripe for glory; and then faith is turned into full fruition, and immediate enjoyment.

To illuftrate this matter, I fhall in a few particulars fhow the influence that faith has through the whole of the Chriftian's work and warfare in the wilderness, from first to laft.


1. It is faith that gives the foul the first ken of Christ, and of the way of falvation through him; it is the eye that first spies him out, as the all-fufficient Saviour provided by God the Father. When the poor foul has been as it were beaten, battered, and toffed among the waves and tempefts of law-terrors, and apprehenfions of eternal wrath and vengeance, in which cafe it has been as it were cafting its most valuable goods overboard, its own righteousness, morality, civility, its duties, abilities, legal attainments, and every thing else: now, while the foul is in this condition, every moment expecting to be fwallowed up in the great deeps of the fea of God's wrath, faith as it were keps up to the top of the maft, and gets a view of Chrift, and of falvation in him; and thereupon the poor foul cries out, Oh there is Chrift, let me get aboard of him; Oh there is the Rock of ages, I will venture my all upon Oh there is a strong hold and a refuge, I will flee in unto him; Oh "this is my reft, here will I dwell, for my foul likes it well." Thus, I fay, it is by faith that we first enter into a ftate of grace, peace, and righteoufaefs; according to that word of the apostle, Rom. v. 2. We have access by faith into this grace wherein we ftand." When the foul was furrounded with nothing but the black thoughts of despair and ruin, faith lands the foul in a fafe harbour; therefore" he




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that hath believed" is faid to have "entered into his reft," Heb. iv.


2. It is by faith that the union is made up between Christ and Indeed there is a radical union that we have with Chrift before faith; for he takes hold of us firft by his Spirit, before we take hold of him by faith: but yet the union is made up on our part by faith, it is that which ties the marriage-knot. It is not love, but confent, that makes marriage between man and woman: fo here, it is the foul's coming off from the law, and all other husbands; its coming off from its own righteoufnefs, and fubmitting unto Chrift as a Saviour, a Husband, and a Surety; this is it that makes up the union, and this is done by faith. There are two things that marry Christ and the foul together, as is plain from Hof. ii. 19. 20. The first is on God's part; he fays to us in the covenant, and by his Spirit, "I will betrothe thee unto me in faithfulness, and in loving kindness:" there, I fay, is God's part. But what is it on our part that makes the marriage? It follows," and thou fhalt know the Lord," that is, thou fhalt believe in him; for this is the way that faith is very commonly expreffed by in the Old Teftament, viz. by the knowledge of the Lord. It is faith that brings Chrift unto the heart, and reveals him to the foul in all his glory and excellency.

3. As union, fo our communion with Chrift is by faith. There are two things requifite in order to our having fellowfhip with another; the firft is, to make the perfon real and prefent; and the fecond is, to have a familiar access with boldness unto him. Now, it is faith that doth both these. (1.) It is faith that makes God in Chrift prefent unto the foul: for it "fees him who is invifible :" yea, it brings Chrift and God in him, down from heaven unto the heart; hence Chrift is faid to " dwell in our hearts by faith." It is not love that can make another perfon prefent; it may indeed fet the fancy a-work to frame the picture and image of the perfon beloved; but it is only faith that can view God in Christ as prefent in and with the foul. And then, (2.) It is faith that gives us familiarity and boldness of accefs unto the Lord: Eph. iii. 12." In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him." And, 2 Cor. iii. 18. “ Beholding him with open face," we come to him; with open face," that is, with confidence and boldness: Pfal. xxxiv. 5. They looked unto him, and were lightened:" and what fol lows?" Their faces were not afhamed;" that is, when they viewed Chrift by faith, they had boldnefs of accefs unto God in him. The communion that we have with Chrift is frequently compared unto eating and drinking, John vi. because


it is faith alone that fetches, nourishment from Christ, and makes a person to find the sweetness that is in him, and draws virtue from him: and thus it has the most close and intimate union and communion with him, infomuch that he is one with the foul, and the foul one with him.

4. As faith brings us into union and communion with Chrift, fo faith brings the Spirit of God down into the heart. I own indeed, that, in the work of regeneration and conver. fion, he is like the rain, that "waits not for the fons of men;" he comes unfent for, or unfought for; "he is found of them that feek him not ;" faith has no inftrumentality there; faith itfelf is a part of the new creature, that is formed by the hand of the Spirit. But, I fay, faith brings the Spirit into the heart, as a Spirit of fanctification, and of confolation, Eph. i. 13. "In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were fealed with the holy Spirit of promife." Gal. iii. 14. we are faid to "receive the promife of the holy Spirit through faith." All the fulness of the Spirit dwells in Chrift, for the ufe of his mystical body; now, it is by faith that this fulness is received, even grace for grace.

5. I might tell you further, that our standing in a state of grace is by faith. As we have accefs or entrance into a state of grace, fo we have ftanding in that ftate by faith, Rom. v. 2. 2 Cor. i. ult." By faith ye ftand." Pet. i. 5. we are faid to be "kept by the power of God through faith unto falvation." There you fee, that faith is joined in commiffion with the power of God, to keep the believer. Doth the power of God keep you? fo doth faith. God is not thy of aferibing that to faith, which is peculiar only to himself, because faith afcribes all to the power of God, and gives him the honour of every thing that it doth: hence we are faid to be "kept by the power of God through faith unto falvation." When other gra ces, fuch as love, repentance, &c. do fag and fail, and have as it were their heels tript up, faith will stand its ground: hence, Eph. vi. 16. there is a particular mark of diftinction put upon faith beyond all the other pieces of armour; "Above all, take the fhield of faith." When a man's head-piece is crackt, his fword, his breaftplate, and other armour is taken from him; yet his fhield will do him good fervice, he will lie under it, and thereby defend himfelf againtt all: the ftrokes and blows that are levelled at him. Let the devil, corruption, and hell, rage and roar as they will, yet faith will keep its gripe, and maintain its ground: let Satan caft his fiery darts,faith quenches them, Eph. vi. 16.: let indwelling fin roar and rage, faith will fay, Let it rage, yet it fhall never reign; for God has faid, that "fin fhall not have dominion:" yea, let God himself carry


as an enemy, and fet himself in battle-array against the foul; yet even then faith will look in his face, and fay, "Though thou shouldst even kill me, yet will I truft in thee," Job xiii. 15. When other graces are fainting, and crying, "We know not what to do;" faith will fay, "Mine eyes are toward thee: I will look unto the Lord: I will wait for the God of my falvation: my God will hear me : Though I fit in darknefs, the Lord will be a light unto me," &c. When other graces, like poor faint-hearted things, fland as it were trembling, and crying, "Who fhall deliver us?" faith will lift up the head, and cry, "Thanks be to God, which giveth me the victory, through our Lord Jefus Chrift."

6. It is faith that fetches in peace and quiet to the foul in the midft of trouble, whether from without or from within. When nothing but ftorms from heaven, earth, and hell, are blowing on the foul, faith will caft out its anchor of hope, and keep the foul fteady and quiet, faying with David, Pfal. xlii. 11. " Why art thou caft down, O my foul! and why art thou difquieted within me? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praife him." To the fame purpose is that famous text, If. xxvi. 3. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whofe mind is ftayed on thee: because he trufteth in thee." And how is the mind ftayed on the Lord but by faith? Oh, fays faith, let me have what tribulation I will" in the world, yet in Christ I shall have peace: This man fhall be my peace, when the Affyrian comes into the land."

7. Faith not only brings peace, but joy into the foul, amidst all other disturbances from without: hence we are faid to be filled with joy, as well as peace, in believing. And, 1 Pet. i. 8." Whom having not feen, we love; in whom though now we fee him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unfpeakable, and full of glory." The language of faith is, Pfal xlvi. at the beginning, "God is our refuge and ftrength: and therefore, though the mountains fhould be removed, yet there is a river, the ftreams whereof do make glad the city of God."

8. It is by faith that we are recovered after falls into fin. Many a time the devil, the world, temptation, and corruption, fo far prevail againft the believer, as to trip up his heels: "The righteous man he falleth feven times a day." Now, in fuch a cafe, what is it that recovers him? It is faith:


Though I fall, I fhall arife (fays faith); for the Lord upholdeth me with his hand." Oh Sirs, if you let faith go, when you fall into fin, you cannot mifs to fall into the bottom; just like a man climbing up a ladder, if his foot flip, and he quit the gripe of his hand alfo, what can hinder him from falling down to the ground? When Chrift forefaw that Peter


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