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• We joy
It is through this faith in the complete work of the Redeemer, that, being juftified, we have peace with our offended Sovereign. The atonement, which is made for our sins by the blood of the cross, is no otherwise received than by faith. in God through Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom we have now received the atonement.' This faith is declared to be the gift of God.
He is pleased to engage the mind of the finner to a diligent attention to the word preached. " Faith cometh by hearing,” Hence the Author of eternal salvation says to us, “ Hear, and your souls shall live.” It is his usual method, in the conversion of finners, to bring them under the sound of the gospel, and to engage them seriously to regard the messages of it. A blessing is therefore pronounced on those who watch daily at wisdom's gates, waiting at the posts of her doors. But a listless and indolent attendance in places of religious worship will be of little advantage. The minds of finners, who are brought to believe, are therefore roused, and excited to take earnest heed to the words of everlasting life, by him who says unto them, " Hearken diligently unto me." They have be. fore heard the most important truths with indifference, as if they were but idle tales, or cunningly devised fables; it is now otherwise. The arrows
of conviction begin to pierce their consciences, and penetrate their hearts. They regard what is spoken, not as the word of man, but as it is in truth the word of God. They are convinced that there is a facred reality in religion; they are awakened to a sense of their own danger, and begin in good earneft to inquire after some way of escape.
The minds of such finners are likewise further enlightened concerning the nature and necessity of true faith. They learn from the scriptures, that without faith it is impossible to please God; that there is no pardon of fin, no justification, no peace with the offended Majesty of heaven, without faith; that he who believeth not is condemned already, and, continuing in that state, shall surely be damned. Hence they are led to inquire, what that faith is which is fo necessary to the falvation of the soul. And they are convinced that it must be something more than that lifeless assent to the truth of scripture doctrines of which thoufands are poflessed, who are alienated from the life of God, and continue the slaves of fin, of Satan, and of the world; who have no love to God, nor regard for holiness. They begin to see, that though they have always thought themselves to be believers, they have but deceived themselves; fince none of the fruits of a living faith have been brought forth by
them. Hence they are convinced, that they have lived to that very day in a state of unbelief. It is the work of the Holy Spirit of God to convince men of fin, because they believe not on the name of Jesus.
Being convinced of unbelief, the awakened sinner becomes very folicitous that he may be the subject of that faith which is of the operation of God, which purifies the heart, works by love, overcomes the world, and has its issue in the full and everlasting falvation of the soul. Oh,' says he, that I could lay hold on the promises of life in Christ Jesus! O that I could so behold them as to be persuaded of them, and embrace them, with fatis. factory acquiescence of mind in the truth of God, as to their accomplishment in my behalf ! But I am like one swimming against the stream, and en. deavouring to catch hold on that which, with all his efforts, he cannot reach. I sometimes cry, with the poor man in the gospel, Lord, I would believe, help thou my unbelief. Conscious guilt fills me with terror. I tremble before that God whose wrath I have so juftly deserved. I feel something within continually upbraiding me with my past offences and present unworthiness, and telling me I ought not to derive encouragement from the promises of mercy, for I have neither part
nor lot in them. I would look unto Jesus, that I may be saved, but my sins hang heavy on my heart, so that I am not able to look
Yet I sometimes say, Though he say me, I will trust in him. I have no where else to go. If the Saviour of finners frown me away, I perish; for I know nó other refuge. I am well assured, that he that findeth him, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But without an interest in him I am undone for ever.'
Having thus briefly shewn the necessity of faith in order to the enjoyment of God's favour, and suggested fome hints concerning the way in which finners are brought nigh to him, what fhall I more say? I would encourage the poor soul whose case I have been describing, not to stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, but to fly for re. fuge to lay hold on the hope set before us in the gospel. Remember that Jesus, the compassionate Saviour, hath said, “ I will in no wise cast out."
Let the needy trembling finner continue to cry earnestly to God for the manifestations of his pardoning grace and mercy. The same person who said, In his favour is life, had fought that privilege with diligence. “ I entreated thy favour with my whole heart." Go thou, and do likewise. A fense of interest in his favour is worth feeking.
Cry earnestly for it, and be not content to have a denial. Pray always, and faint not. Take with you words and go unto him, “Lord, I am a poor, forlorn outcast, a miserable, guilty creature; lift thou up upon me the light of thy countenance. Let me not be shut up in a dungeon of darkness, and lie in the shades of death. I know I might justly be banished from thee for ever.
But though I deserve no favour, in Jesus Christ, thy Son, thou hast declared thyself well pleased. Did he not die, the just for the unjust, to bring finners unto thee, and to deliver them from the wrath to come ? Has he not opened a new and living way of access to thee? Did he not rise, as the Sun of righteousness, on this benighted world, with healing in his wings ? Hath he not brought life and immortality to light ? O thou who did ft cause the light to shine out of darkness, shine into my heart, to give the light of the knowledge of thy glory, in the face of Jesus Chrift.
. I read in thy holy word, that through the tender mercy of our God, the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that fit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Lord, look upon me in mercy, through thy dear Son; let the bowels of thy compassion be moved towards thy creature