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With the eye of faith elevated to the Eternal's throne, we look for assistance in and wait for his blessing, upon our undertaking. We propose,

I. To consider the nature of faith, and investigate wherein its essential acts confift.

II. As faith is a necessary requisite, in approaching the table of the Lord, so we shall urge the natural man to the use of all those means, which, if accompanied with a blessing from on high, will tend to make him a partaker of that divine principle.

III. We shall point out the grounds on which a child of God may be assured of his being in the faith, and the obligation he is under to seek, to cherish, and preserve this Christian grace.

That we may speak with accuracy on the first proposed subject, it must be previously remarked,

1. That to believe is not to be of the opinion, or, to be in doubt, whether a thing be so or not, as the phrase is daily misapplied when conversing on natural things. It is not uncommon for a person to say, this or that I believe, whenever on the one hand reasons are offered for thus judging, and on the other some reason exists why he should doubt the fact. But this is not believing, it is rather to be considered as doubting, and in its nature is wholly different from the subject of this lecture.

2. To believe is not simply to have a persuasion or a knowledge of the existence of a thing: for a person may have this persuasion, and his mind yield no assent, yea, feel an aversion from it. In respect to natural objects, it may have place, but not in regard to those which are spiritual. For when things spiritual are the objects of our faith, it is always accompanied both with the full affent of the judgment, and the most cordial approbation of the will. Throughout Scripture, where the term faith, and the phrase to believe, occur, both these ideas are included. And,

Therefore, saving faith implies, “A cordial recep“ tion of the testimony of God, and a total and unre“served surrender of the soul and all its affections, " to God and Christ."

Hence faith is a term which no man can fully understand, unless he hath received and be exercised

by it.

In the word of God, two particular phrases are employed to express this act.

The first is recorded Psalm ii. 12, and signifies in the original, to take refuge.

“ Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” A similar expression presents itself, Psalm xxxvi. 8.

“ How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God, " therefore the children of men put their trust under "the shadow of thy wings.”

The fame word is found in other passages of Scripture, and always expresses the eJential though weaker act of faith, to which falvation is attached.

The second phrase which scripture employs, fignifies to lean, to rest upon, or to suffer ourselves to be borne by another, as a child, who feels itself perfectly secure, in the arms of its mother or nurse. Agrecably to this we read, Songs viii. 5.

“ Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, " leaning upon her beloved ?”

See also Plalm lxxxiv. 12. “ O Lord of hosts, “ blessed is the man that trusteth in thee."

Sach and similar expressions represent that more advanced degree of faith, which consists in the exercise of confidence.

In the New Testament, to believe is sometimes used

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to convey to the mind the object of faith; thus, Gal. i.

23, the apostle declares, that " he now preacheth the faith, which once he destroyed.” But at other times it imports the act of the mind which is exercised with respect to that object, John iii. 36. “ He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;" i. e. everlasting life is the portion of that person whose mind is so exercised with respect to the Son, as God here demands.

Of that faith we now speak, which actually unites the soul to Jesus; and that we may express ourselves, on a subject of such importance, with the perspicuity it merits, it will be proper to enquire,

1. What precedes faith.
II. Wherein the true essence of faith consists.
III. What follows

as a consequence of faith.
1. If a person savingly believe, there must

precede,

A. KNOWLEDGE. This is a requisite so necessary, that faith itself is thus termed, Isaiah liii. 11. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many. Unless a truth be known, we cannot afsent to it, embrace it, or be suitably exercised with respect to it.

There are therefore certain truths proposed as the objects of knowledge : they are in general the whole testimony of God, and in particular those which have an immediate regard to our eternal salvation. Hence we must attain to a knowledge of ourselves, and become acquainted with the Great Mediator of the covenant, with the means by which we become interested in him, and with the obligation we are under to become holy in heart, and in all manner of conversation.

Now as these truths must be known, in a greater or less degree, by every true believer, so we cannot but remark, that every species of knowledge is not sufficient.--A knowledge which is merely speculative is not saving. There exists a vast difference between the knowledge which the natural man has of the truths of religion, and that which he possesses, whose foul hath been illuminated by the holy Spirit. The knowledge of the former is fuperficial and external ; it skims along the surface, but dives not deep, to obtain the pith and marrow of truth : that of the latter is penetrating; it extends not barely to the words, but to the matter. The natural man may be enlightened as to the head, but divine truths affect not his heart. Is he taught that he is miserable, he feels not distress, forrow, nor shame, at the awful discovery.Are the glories of the Mediator brought to his view in the sacred oracles, he experiences no desires after him, at least not such as attracts him to Christ. For he hath never yet experimentally known his need of him. But the man who really believes, has his heart fo affe£ted with the truths of God, that the fight of sin and misery makes his soul to feel sorrow and the keenest anguish ; whilst a view of Christ, as the only way of salvation, creates within him holy and ardent desires to have Jesus for his eternal portion.

B. The ASSENT of the mind to the truths of revelation necessarily precedes the essential act of faith.But let it be remarked, that barely to assent to divine truths, as to the letter, is not all that is required : for such an affent cannot but be given to them by every ingenuous mind, since they perfectly accord with right reason, are in every respect worthy of God, in their nature tend to advance the happiness of man, and against them the infidel, bold in fin, raises his subtil but feeble objections in vain. If thus all within the pale of the reformed church must yield an to convey to the mind the object of faith; thus, Gal. i.

23,

the apostle declares, that “ he now preacheth the faith, which once he destroyed.” But at other times it imports the act of the mind which is exercised with respect to that object, John iii. 36. “ He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;" i. e. everlasting life is the portion of that person whose mind is so exercised with respect to the Son, as God here demands.

Of that faith we now speak, which actually unites the foul to Jesus; and that we may express ourselves, on a subject of such importance, with the perspicuity it merits, it will be proper to enquire,

I. What precedes faith.
II. Wherein the true essence of faith consists.
III. What follows as a consequence of faith.

1. If a person savingly believe, there must precede,

A. KNOWLEDGE. This is a requisite so necessary, that faith itself is thus termed, Isaiah liii. 11. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many. Unless a truth be known, we cannot affent to it, embrace it, or be suitably exercised with respect to it.

There are therefore certain truths proposed as the objects of knowledge: they are in general the whole testimony of God, and in particular those which have an immediate regard to our eternal salvation. Hence we must attain to a knowledge of ourselves, and become acquainted with the Great Mediator of the covenant, with the means by which we become interested in him, and with the obligation we are under to become holy in heart, and in all manner of conversation.

Now as these truths must be known, in a greater or less degree, by every true believer, so we cannot

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