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there is, sufficient evidence in the Gospel itself, to convince now or to convict hereafter.
Come then, you that believe not; bring your souls under the direct and continued influence of this heavenly light. Come, seek from on high to be enlightened and renewed. Bend the stubborn knee; bow the proud heart, while you seek a new heart and a right spirit, whereby you shall see and be infallibly assured of the glory and grace of the Gospel. Come and seek to have a blessed witness of the truth in your own soul. Then shall your faith stand, not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Thus wait upon the Lord, in the humble desire not only to know, but to do his will, and his blessed Gospel shall come unto you, not in doubt and fear, but “in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.”
fait} in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ar the opening of our third chapter, two questions were proposed. The first of these, relating to the Divine origin of the Bible, we must now leave, and turn to the second. What does the Bible reveal, by the right apprehension of which my soul may be delivered from all evil? Retaining the metaphor of our title and introduction, the question would take this form: On what foundation are we invited to build our hopes of a blessed immortality? But dropping the figure, and leaving ourselves free to use any which may best illustrate our thoughts, what is the object of saving faith?
It is necessary that we understand this clearly, or we shall never understand how so simple an exercise of the mind and heart as faith, should produce such powerful and lasting results. Indeed an error here, even if it should not be so serious as to be fatal to all our hopes, may materially impair the vigor of our piety, and the depth and constancy of our peace.
The importance of Faith, as we shall learn more distinctly hereafter, arises from its position and office, and not from any virtue in itself. Mere belief or persuasion, however strong, in things unimportant in themselves, however true, can neither improve the man, nor increase his enjoyment. However necessary faith may be, its necessity is not that of the fountain, on which we depend for an essential element of life, health, and comfort, but that of the channel or tube, by which we appropriate it to household use. The object of first consideration and chief anxiety is the water. Is it palatable and wholesome, for daily drink? Is it cool, and full of sparkling life, for refreshment in time of heat? Is it pure and soft, such as we seek for cleansing? The means of conveying to the door, is an after consideration—important, but secondary. Mere faith or persuasion can no more sanctify nor satisfy the soul, than a leaden pipe can quench thirst. Every thing depends upon the nature of that which is believed, or we might as well go to the arithmetic as to the Bible for our creed, and the sincere disciples of a system, every article of which is false, would enjoy as good a hope as any of us. It is the truth believed, that by its own peculiar virtue, effectually cleanses and tranquilizes the conscience
that transforms the soul and fills it with peace, and joy, and hope. When we attribute such results to faith, it is only instrumentally, as it is the means of bringing the soul into practical communication with the truth that constitutes its salvation.
What then is the object of the faith that saves ? In a general sense all revealed truth is the object of faith. The several parts of Scripture are so interlocked-its doctrines so interwoven, that the whole, if any, is to be received on the testimony of God. We can imagine no separation here—no selection of certain parts to be received, and certain parts to be rejected. The moment a man, who declines being called an infidel, begins to make his distinctions, “This I accept because it cominends itself to my reason, but that I reject because it is mysterious and incomprehensible, or because it contradicts the conclusions of my own mind,” it is evident that his reason acknowledges no source of light and truth superior to itself: he is standing on Atheistic ground. If we receive any portion of the Bible on the evidence of its inspiration, we must receive all, for the simple and sufficient reason, that it is the word of God. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for wisdom, for doctrine, for reproof, and for instruction in righteousness.
And yet, being persuaded of the truth and usefulness of all, we may select a certain part of revealed
truth, as especially adapted to the supply of some great, primary want. No one will pretend that all Scripture is equally important, or equally suited to all purposes. While God has omitted nothing from his holy word that man needs, it was mainly intended for the accomplishment of one great special end; his salvation from sin and misery. For this, the mass of Divine truth contained in the Bible has a central point, with which all others are connected in beautiful relation and harmony, but to which all others are subordinate.
When then we ask so definitely, What is the object of saving faith? we mean, What is that in the word of God to which our souls turn for relief in view of the curse that has fallen upon them — to which we may confidently look for acceptance with God, and final redemption ?
We can imagine various answers to such a question. “The object of faith,” says one, “is the Gospel.” Yes, indeed; but that is too vague a word, and admits of various interpretation. We cannot be sure that a man has an intelligent faith, or that his faith terminates upon the right object, until we learn in what sense he uses the word Gospel. We know not with what distorted vision, or through what false medium, he may have looked at the Gospel, and consequently we cannot know how insufficient, how erroneous, or how destructive his faith may be. Error