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perfection, shines with the brightest effulgence, and to the greatest advantage. The glory of God, the bright emanation of the divine fulness, beauty and perfection, is to be seen in the face of Jesus Christ. * He is the image of God. In him, as in a mirror, the rays of the divine glory center, and by him are to the greatest ad. vantage reflected on all finite intelligences. He therefore who sees Jesus Christ in his true character, as a beautiful, suitable and all sufficient Saviour, or under. stands the gospel, sees and understands what is the sum of all moral beauty and perfection; which is the glory of the gospel, and infinitely distinguishes it from every thing which is merely human, or is not divine ; and without which the gospel would be infinitely unworthy of God, and want the evidence which the believer has that it is from God. Therefore he who discerns not this moral beauty and excellence, which is the same with having no taste of heart for it, the gospel is hid from him. He does not understand it; has no true idea of Jesus Christ; and consequently discerns not the proper and all convincing evidence that he is the Son of God, and a suitable and all sufficient Saviour: Therefore does not, and cannot believe it, with that faith which it demands.
But such a true idea of Jesus Christ, such a knowl. edge of him in his true character, such a sight of his moral beauty and excellence, supposes and takes place in the exercise of a right taste and disposition of heart, without which it cannot possibly be perceived. For, as has been proved, a discerning and sight of beauty, especially of moral beauty and excellence, depends upon the taste and disposition of the heart, and it cannot be discerned by the speculative understanding, as distinct from the will, and independent of it. But such taste and disposition of heart, which discerns the moral beauty and excellence of Christ and the gospel, and opens to the mind the all convincing evidence of their reality, necessarily implies, and carries in it, approbation of the gospel, and a cordial embracing it as excellent and di. vine, which is the same with receiving Jesus Christ, and trusting in him as a worthy and all sufficient Saviour,
* 2 Cor. iy. 6.
All this, it is presumed, has been made so evident in the foregoing section, from scripture and the reason and nature of things, that it is needless to enlarge on the subject here, or repeat what has been said there. However, it may be proper to mention several passages of scripture, in addition to those there cited, which
represent that light, knowledge and belief respecting the truths of the gospel, in which saving faith consists, to imply a right temper of mind, which is the same with a benevolent heart, without which there can be no true light and discerning with respect to those things; and therefore no saving faith.-And consequently that an evil heart, that is, a rebellious disobedient heart, under the power of selfishness, pride and lust, does not, and cannot believe on Jesus Christ with that faith which is reasonable, and which the gospel requires.
Christ says to the unbelieving Jews, “How can ye believe which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ?"* Here a selfish, proud, worldly spirit, which alienated them from God, and rendered them so unfriendly to him, as not to desire the honour which he gives, is represented as inconsistent with believing on Christ, or a sight of that evidence of the truth of the gospel which is implied in saving faith. Therefore a contrary temper of mind to this is necessary in order to believe in Christ, and is implied in saving faith ; which must be a benevolent, humble, spiritual disposition, which is friendly to the divine character, and sincerely desires the spiritual blessings which he gives, the honour which cometh from God.- According to this, all the mere speculative knowledge, all the light and conviction, relating to the truths of the gospel, of which unrenewed men are capable, falls essentially short of true faith in Christ; so that they are wholly destitute of any thing of the kind. Therefore men must have an obedient, holy disposition of heart, in order to exercise saving faith. It is with such a renewed heart that men believe unto righteousness. With such an heart the Eunuch believed on Christ. f St. John asserts this in the strongest terms, in the following words, “ Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God."* Thus faith in Christ implies renovation of heart, a right disposition of mind. Where this is not, there can be no faith.
3 John y. 44.
Rom. x. 10. • Acts viji. 37
We find the same thing implied and inculcated in our Saviour's parable of the sower, as he explains it.t He that received seed into good ground, is he who with an honest and good heart, heareth the word, understandeth, receiveth and keepeth it, and bringeth forth fruit with patience. Upon this it may be observed, that what is called understanding the word, by Matthew, is expressed by receiving it by Mark. From hence it is certain, that understanding the word is the same with receiving it ; or, at least, that one implies the other. But receiving the word is an exercise of heart, which great certainty from the words which Luke uses, “ Which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it.” It is the honest and good heart which understands, receives and keeps the word ; and he who has not such an heart, that is, an upright and benevolent heart, does neither receive, nor understand it.
It is needless perhaps to observe, that saving faith consists in understanding or receiving the word, the truth of the gospel, which, according to this representation, is found in an honest and good heart, and in no other, and implies the upright, disinterested, benevolent exercises of such a heart. Before we leave this passage, it may be useful to observe, that according to this representation of our Saviour, the word of truth does not make the evil, hard, selfish heart, good ; but where it finds such an heart, it produces no saving good, but leaves it as bad as it finds it. The heart must first be made honest and good ; for such an heart only understands, receives, loves and keeps the truth, and brings forth good fruit; as the seed takes root so as to bring forth fruit, only in good ground.
The following words of Christ are to the same purpose,
“ If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”Ị To understand the doctrine which Christ taught, to see the divine stamp which is upon it, and to * 1 John v.1. + Matt. xiii. 23. Markiv. 20. Luke viii. 15. John vü. 17. know that it is of God, is the description of saving faith, or the character of a true believer. They who have a heart to do the will of God, and none but such, have this discerning of true faith. Such an heart therefore, or a disposition and will, to do the will of God, is essential to saving faith. This is a discerning, wise and understanding heart, which sees the evidence of divine truth, and knows it to be of God. Whereas he whose heart opposes the revealed will of God, which requires LOVE, remains in darkness and unbelief.
It must be farther observed, III. It appears from the scriptures that Love is im. plied in saving faith, and is essential to it; so that where there is no holy love, there is no true faith. This is asserted by St. Paul : by which he distinguishes true faith from all counterfeits, in the following words. “In Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love."* The Apostle does not here say, that faith worketh love or produces it, as if faith preceded, as the cause of love ; and that love is connected with faith, and follows it, as the certain consequence and effect of it. But he says, faith worketh by love, as some machines move by wind or water, springs or weights. He asserts that love is the life and active nature of saving faith. By this it is a living active faith, love being the life and soul of it; so that where there is no love, there can be no more than an inactive, dead faith. The Apostle James says, “ As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." The operative nature of any thing, is the life of it. Things are said to be alive, from the active nature which is observed to be in them. The active nature of man is the spirit which is in him : Therefore, as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without a working nature is dead also. What this working nature, or active fruitful spirit is, which is in true faith, St. Paul tells us in the words before us : It is Love. Love is the spirit and life of faith by which it acts, and produces all its operations, and is distinguished from a spurious, dead faith. These two Apostles perfectly agree in this point. According to them, that Gal. v. 6
† James ii. 26.
which distinguishes true saving faith, from every kind, of faith which is not so, is the life and operative nature of it, which consists in true love.
And that St. Paul is to be understood as has been now explained, when he said, “ Faith worketh by love,” is confirmed by his following words. “Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, * I am nothing.”+ Here he asserts, there can be no faith that is of any worth, where there is not love. It follows, that saving faith implies love, in the nature of it. No faith availeth any thing, but that living, active faith, to which love is essential, and of which it is the life and active nature. And when he goes on to say, “Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things,”I the most easy, natural and consistent meaning of these words is thought to be, that love is the active nature and life of christian fortitude, faith, hope and patience, that these christian graces are exercised and maintained by love, which is the founda. tion and soul of the whole, so that where there is no love, there is nothing borne, believed, hoped for, or endured, as christian exercises. Love believeth all things, that is, every
exercise of true faith, is an exercise of love ; and he who has love, believeth all things which are the proper objects of faith, and ought to be believed. In this view we see the force and propriety of his concluding words, “ And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three ; but the greatest of these is love.” Love is the greatest, as faith and hope are comprehended in love, as the active nature, life and essence of them.
That love comes into the essence of saving faith, will be evident by attending to a quotation of St. Paul from the prophet Isaiah.|| The words of the prophet are, “Men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear-what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him."$ For which the apostle uses these words, “ For them that
The word in the original is love ; ayamn, with its derivatives ayaTAW, and ayamulos, is used above three hundred times in the New-Testament, and translated love, to love, and beloved, except in about twenty places, besides the instances in this chapter, ere it is translated charity ; but ought to have been always translated love. f 1 Cor. xiii. 2. # verse 7. ll 1 Cor. ii. 9. Isaiah lxiv. 4.