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he groans under the burden of his remaining corruptions and imperfections; and, with earnest diligence, follows after holiness, endeavouring to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling; and, in a word, he has such an impression of these invisible realities, that whatever temptations, desertions, or prevailing corruptions he may conflict with, nothing can so banish the great concern from his breast, as to make him habitually slothful and indifferent about it; nothing can quiet him, short of having his heart and affections engaged in the things of God and godliness, and his appetites and passions under the restraint and governing influence of “the law of the spirit of life.”
But now, on the other hand, if we take a view of the influence which a dead faith has upon the soul, it is visible that this usually leaves the subjects of it secure and careless, trifling and indifferent, in the concerns of the eternal world. These
to such a person but distant futurities, which do not engage his solemn attention, and make him in earnest solicitous about the event, nor give any effectual check to his inordinate appetites and passions. Or if (as it sometimes happens) any awakening dispensation alarms the conscience of such a person to a distressing apprehension of his guilt and danger, drives him to duties and external reformations, and makes him more careful and watchful in his conduct, he has yet no sensible impressive view of the 6 way of salvation by Jesus Christ.” He either endeavours to pacify the justice of God, and his own conscience, by his duties and religious performances, and so lulls himself asleep again in his former secu
rity; or else continues to agonize under most dark, dreadful, and unworthy apprehensions of the glorious God, as if he were implacable and irreconcilable to such sinners as he. Such a person would readily acknowledge, but he cannot feel this blessed truth, that Christ Jesus is a sufficient Saviour. He allows it to be truth; but it is to him such a truth as has no effectual influence upon his heart and life. Though he own this to be true, yet he can never comfortably venture his soul and his eternal interests upon it, unless a ray of divine light shine into his soul, and give him a lively and sensible view of what he could before have but a slight and superficial apprehension of.
Here, then, you see an apparent difference between a true and false faith. The one realizes the great truths of the Gospel, by a lively and feeling discovery of them; giving the “ light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ:" the other gives but a lifeless and inactive assent to these important truths. The one influences the heart and affections; and, by “ beholding with open face, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, changes the soul into the same image, from glory to glory:" the other only swims in the head, and leaves the heart in a state either of security or despondency. The one is an abiding principle of divine life, from which there flow rivers of living water; the other is transient and unsteady, and leaves the soul short of any spiritual principle of life and activity.
2. A saving faith is a hearty consent to the terms of the Gospel; while a dead faith is but a cold as
sent to the truth of it. Accordingly, a true faith is in the Gospel described to be receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ." “ To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God.” Our blessed Redeemer is freely offering himself and his saving benefits to poor perishing sinners, in the Gospel. Our compliance with and acceptance of the Gospel-offer, are the terms of our interest in him, and constitute the faith of God's elect. They, therefore, and they only, are true believers in Christ, who heartily acquiesce in the glorious method of a sinner's recovery from ruin by Jesus Christ; and heartily accept an offered Saviour, in all his offices and benefits. A true believer, convinced of his natural blindness and ignorance, repairs to the Lord Jesus Christ, to enlighten his mind, to make his way plain before him, and to give him a clear, sensible, and spiritual acquaintance with the great things of his eternal peace.
The true believer has found, by experience, his utter incapacity to procure the divine favour by the best of his duties, reformations, or moral performances, and that he has cause to be ashamed and confounded in his own sight, for the great defects of his highest attainments in religion; and therefore welcomes the Lord Jesus Christ to his soul, as the “ Lord his righteousness;" repairs to him, and to him only, 6 for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;" and builds all his hope of acceptance with God, upon what Christ has done and suffered for him. The true believer labours and is heavy laden with the sinfulness of his nature, and longs for a further victory over his corrupt affections, ap
petites, and passions, for more spirituality in his duties, and for a further progress in piety and holiness; and therefore heartily desires and accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his Sanctifier as well as Saviour; and earnestly seeks after the renewing, strengthening, and quickening influences of his blessed Spirit. The true believer feels the necessity of this blessed Saviour in all his offices, relations, and characters. He sees him to be just such a Saviour as his soul wants; and therefore cheerfully accepts a whole Christ, with his whole heart, without any reserve, without any desire of other terms of acceptance with God. He may entertain dark apprehensions of himself, and complain heavily of the great defects of his faith and holiness; but he can never entertain hard thoughts of the Gospelscheme, nor complain of the terms of salvation therein proposed. These appear to him “ the wisdom of God, and the power of God;" and every way answer the exigencies of his state, and the desires of his soul.
But if, on the contrary, we consider the character of a dead faith, it is what never brings the soul to a full consent to the terms of the Gospel, without some exception and reserve.
The unsound believer may imagine that he accepts of the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour; but what is the foundation and encouraging motive of his imaginary compliance with the Gospel-offer? Upon an impartial inquiry, it will be always found to be something in himself; his good affections, duties, moralities, reformations, promises, or purposes. He endeavours by these to recommend himself to God,
and on the account of these he hopes to find acceptance through Christ. Or if he feels ever so strong a desire of salvation by Christ, yet he is driven to it only by fear and self-love; and will renew his affection to other lords, as soon as his awakening apprehensions are worn off. He does not feel bis want of Christ's enlightening and enlivening influences, for he knows not what they mean. He “ submits not to the righteousness of Christ;" for he is still endeavouring to procure acceptance with God from some good qualifications of his own, some duties which he performs, or some progress which he makes, or designs to make, in his religious course. He cannot submit to Christ as his Lord; for there is some slothful indulgence which he cannot forego, some darling lust which he cannot part with, some worldly idol which his heart is set upon, or some difficult duty which he must excuse himself from.
There is nothing more apparent than the distinction between these two sorts of believers. The one comes to Christ destitute of all hope and help in himself, but sees enough in Christ to answer all his wants; the other is full in himself. The one looks to Christ to be his light; the other leans to his own understanding. The one makes mention of Christ's righteousness, and that only; the other hopes for an interest in Christ and his salvation, on account of his own attainments; and, in effect, expects justification by his own righteousness, for Christ's sake. The one brings a guilty, polluted, unworthy soul, to the blessed Redeemer, without any qualification to recomm
omend it; expecting from him alone all the supplies he wants, repairing to him for “ gold tried in the fire, that he