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secretly enkindling in the heart a most genuine disposition to return home to God: to love him and live to him, arising from a sense of the ineffable glory and beauty of the divine nature: for he appears glorious in holiness, justice, goodness, and grace; and glorious in his sovereignty and in his majesty, as supreme Lord and high Governor of the whole world. Upon the whole, with utmost solemnity, as being in ourselves infinitely unfit for the divine favour, we venture our eternal All upon Jesus Christ as Mediator, relying on his worth and merits, and trusting to the mere free mercy of God through him, for pardon, and grace, and glory; and hence are encouraged and emboldened, with our whole hearts, to return home to God through him, and give up ourselves to God for ever, to love him and live to him, and live upon him for ever, lamenting that ever we sinned against him, resolving to cleave to him with all our hearts, and never, never to depart from him. IHeb. iv. 16. and x. 19–22. Eph. ii. 18. John xiv. 6. Rom. iii. 24, 25, 26. And thus, by this divine light, imparted by the spirit of God, is the soul finally brought to unite to Christ by faith, and to return home to God through him. John vi. 44, 45. No man can come to me, ercept the Father draw him. They shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me. And from what has been said concerning the nature of the gospel, it is self-evident that herein consists a genuine compliance therewith. For all this is only to see things as being what they are, and to be affected and act accordingly. ReMARK 1. This is peculiar to a genuine compliance with the gospel, and that whereby it is specifically different from all counterfeits; namely, its being founded in, and resulting from this divine light ; whereby we are brought, not merely in speculation, but in heart, to look upon things as God does. He sees all things as they are ; and therefore when any poor
was right. The best way to remove such fears, is to live in the exercise of faith every day; for when these views, and a consciousness of them, become habitual, our scruples will cease of course. The special nature of our faith may be learnt from the after acts, as well as by the first act; for the after acts will be of the so nature with the first, let our faith be true or false,
sinner is brought to a right view of things, i.e. to see them as they are, he must, by consequence, look upon them as God does. Now, all others being blind and ignorant in scriptureaccount, hence this true sight and sense of things is very peculiar and distinguishing. And hence we may observe that it is mentioned as being peculiar to the good-ground hearers, in Mat. xiii. 25. : That they heard the word and UN DERstoop it. And Christ intimates that none but his true diseiples kNow the truth. John viii. 31, 32. And the gospel is again and again said to be hid from all others. Mat. ” xi. 25. 2 Cor. iv. 3. And they only have it revealed unto them. Mat. xi. 25. They only have the wail taken off from their hearts. 2 Cor. iii. 14—17. And they only behold with op EN FACE. Wer. 18. 2. This spiritual and divine light lays the foundation for a new kind of belief of the gospel. A sight of the divine beauty and glory of the gospel-scheme, convinces and assures the heart that it is divine, and indeed from God, and not a cunningly devised fable. This is an evidence peculiar to the regenerate, and, of all others, it is unspeakably the most satisfactory. (See this largely explained and proved in Mr. Edwards' treatise on religious affections, p. 182. 199.) 3. Regeneration, faith, repentance, and conversion, are, in their own nature, connected together, and so they are in this representation. In regeneration we receive this divine light; this new spiritual sense of things. Our eyes are opened, and we are brought out of darkness into this marvellous light; and so come to have a right view of God; of ourselves; of Christ, and of the gospel-way of salvation by free grace through him. This spiritual illumination lays the foundation for faith, repentance, and conversion. It discovers the grounds of faith, of repentance, and conversion; and we believe, we repent, and convert. Repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, always go together; Acts xx. 21. and . the gospel calls sinners to repent, and be converted, as well as to believe in Christ. Acts iii. 19. Those, therefore, who seem to have much light, and faith, and joy, but have no repentance, nor do turn to God with all their hearts, are deluded. 4. Spiritual light and true faith are always in proportion. A spiritual sense of God; of ourselves; of Christ, and of the
gospel way of salvation by free grace through him, lays the foundation for faith; and faith naturally results therefrom ; as has been observed, and as is evident from John vi. 45. : and therefore, from the nature of the case, they must be in equal degree in the heart. And therefore, those who pretend to live by faith, when they are spiritually blind and dead, do but deceive themselves. Nor is what they plead from Isai. l. 10. at all to the purpose. Who is among you that feareth the Lord; that obeyeth the voice of his servant ; that casketh in darkness, and hath no light © Let him trust in the Lord, and stay upon his God. Because, 1. The persons here spoken of were not spiritually blind and dead, but had a spiritual sense of God and divine things on their hearts; for they feared the Lord, and obeyed his voice ; so that they lived in the exercise of grace, and walked in the ways of holiness, which, without spiritual light, had been impossible. And, 2. What they were in the dark about, was, how, or by what means, the children of Israel should ever be brought out of the Babylonish captivity, back again to 2ion : which they knew God had promised, but they could see no way wherein it could be brought about. In this respect thev walked in darkness, and could see no light, and therefore they are exhorted to put their trust in the Lord, whose wisdom, power, and faithfulness, are infinite. This is evidently the meaning of the words, as is manifest from the scope and tenour of the prophet's discourse through all the ten preceding chapters, which was calculated for the support and comfort of the godly in the Babylonish captivity, by assuring them of a return *. Nor is what is said about Abraham, that against hope he believed in hope;
* The three first verses of the next chapter, (Isai. li. 1, 2, 3.) do, I think, confirm the above interpretation of Isai. l. 10, although, I doubt not, the prophet's discourse, through the above said ten chapters, has a further look to the JMessiah's kingdom, and our redemption out of mystical Babylon. Butlet the words be considered in either view, or only considered in themselves absolutely, it is plain they never were designed to comfort stoney ground hearers, when their religion is all worn out, and they become dead, blind, and carnal, and so full of doubts and fears. Nor do they mean to embolden such “firmly to believe they are in a good state, though ever so much in the dark, i.e. though they see no grace in their hearts, nor signs of any.” For the words are directed only to those who jear the Lord, and obey the voice of his servant.
nor what is said by St. Paul; We walk by faith, and not by sight, an: thing to their purpose; unless they suppose that Abraham and Paul, and the primitive christians in general, were as dead, and blind, and carnal, as themselves. The truth is, that this blind faith is the very thing which the Apostle James calls a dead faith. 5. Evangelical humiliation and true faith are likewise always in proportion. Evangelical humiliation consists in a sense of our own sinfulness, wileness, odiousness, and ill-desert, and in a disposition, thence resulting, to lie down in the dust full of self-loathing and self-abhorrence, abased before the Lord, really accounting ourselves infinitely too bad ever to venture to come into the divine presence in our own names, or to have a thought of mercy from God on the account of our own goodness. And it is this which makes us sensible of our need of a mediator, and makes us desire to be found, not in ourselves, but in Christ; not having on our own righteousness, but his. No further, therefore, than these views and this temper, prevail in us, shall we truly discern any need of Christ, or be heartily inclined to have any respect to him as a mediator between God and us. There can, therefore, be no more of true faith in exercise, than there is of this true humility. When men, therefore, appear righteous in their own eyes, and look upon themselves as deserving well at the hands of God, on the account of their own goodness, they can feel no need of a mediator, nor at heart have any respect to Christ under that character, Luke v. 31. This condemns the faith of the self-righteous formalist, who depends upon his being conscientious in his ways, and upon his sincerely endeavouring to do as well as he can, to recommend him to God. And this condemns, also, the faith of the proud enthusiast, who appears so good in his own eyes; so far from a legal spirit; so purely evangelical ; so full of light and knowledge, humility and love, zeal and devotion, as that, from a sense of his own goodness, and how greatly beloved he is in the sight of God, he is encouraged and elevated, and feels greatly emboldened to come into the presence of God, and draw near, and come even to his seat, and use familiarity and boldness with God as though he was almost an equal. Such are so far from any WOL, t, - - 55
true sense of their need of Christ, as that they rather feel more fit to be mediators and intercessors in behalf of others, than to want one for themselves. And it is the way of such, from that great sense they have of their own goodness, to make bold with God, and to make bold with Christ, in their prayers, as if they felt themselves pretty nigh upon a level. Of all men in the world, I am ready to think that God looks upon these the worst, and hates them the most. (Luke xviii. 9– 14. Isai. lxv. 5.) But did they know it, they would hate him as entirely as he does them. Hypocrites of all sorts fail in this point: they see no real need of Christ; they are not so bad but that, to their own sense and feeling, they might be pardoned and saved by the free mercy of God, without any mediator. Hence they do not understand the gospel; it is all foolishness to them. 1 Cor. ii. 14. 6. It is a spiritual sense and firm belief of the truths of the gospel which encourages the heart to trust in Christ. John vi. 45. That the goodness of God is infinite, and self-moving; that Christ, as Mediator, has secured the honour of God, the moral Governor of the world, and opened a way for the free and honourable exercise of his graee ; that through Christ, God, the supreme Governor of the world, is actually ready to be reconciled, and invites all, the vilest not excepted, to return to him in this way. These truths, being spiritually understood and firmly believed, convince the heart of the safety of trusting in Christ, and encourage it so to do. Heb. x. 19. Mat. xxii. 4. 7. Saving faith consists in that entire trust, reliance, or dependance on Jesus Christ, the great Mediator, his satisfaction and merits, mediation and intercession, which the humbled sinner has, whereby he is emboldened to return home to God in hopes of acceptance, and is encouraged to look to and trust in God through him for that complete salvation which is of fered in the gospel. The opposite to justifying faith, is a selfrighteous spirit and temper, whereby a man, from a conceit of, and reliance upon his own goodness, is emboldened and encouraged to trust and hope in the mercy of God. Heb. x. 19. 23. Luke xviii. 9. 14. and accordingly, when such see how bad they really are, their faith fails; they naturally think that God cannot find in his heart to show merey to such.