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consider them, whether renewed or otherwise; for that is the man himself who waits. If it be said, that it is the gospel of Christ, and the light which that brings into the mind; the gospel is indeed the ministration and the minister of the Spirit; it is by it that the gift of the Spirit is made, notified, and conveyed; and by it, as the powerful creating word of God, the Spirit conveys life, and all the powers of life, to the dead sinner; supports, maintains, and carries it on to perfection; being indeed the principle and spring of all vital actings, that is, of all that are really and fpiritually good: and when this Spirit is either with-held or withdrawn from the word of the gospel, it is really as dead a letter, and as weak and ineffectual, as the law itself; but the Christian, through the influence of this Spirit, is kept by the mighty power of God through faith unto falvation.
On this plan the Apostle gives us a complete system of the Christian religion in one sentence, consisting only of two articles, and which he gives in two words, viz. faith and love: for thus, he says, that as things stand in Christ Jesus, these are
all; and nothing else can answer any purpose. He mentions indeed only circumcision and uncircumcision : but as he had said, that those who were circumcised stood bound to all the duties and observations injoined by the law; all that man can do in obedience to any or all the commands of God are taken in under it. The exception the Apostle makes of faith working by love, as the only thing that can be of any use, confirms this construction as strongly as if he had said in express terms, that in Christ Jesus nothing can avail any man but that faith which worketh by love.
Here again we are led away by a set of teachers very near of kin to those the Apostle and his Galatians had to do with, from the person of Christ, and union with him in one Spirit, to the word of the 'goSpel, and the state of those who live under it. Be it fo: What will be the consequence? The gospel is the testimony which God hath given concerning his Son Jesus Christ; and therefore Christ in the gospel must be the same Christ who suffered at Jerufalem, and now fits on the right hand of the majesty on high, with all power and auphority in heaven and earth. The gospel 3 A 2:
state, state, then, where-ever it is believed and acquiesced in, must be the same with what our-Lord calls being in, and abiding in himself; and which he assures us is absolutely neceffary ; because without him, or separated and apart from him, we can (even the apostles themselves could) no more do any thing, than the branches can bring forth fruit, unless they abide in the vine.
Hence then arises the absolute necessity and use of faith in the Christian life; which, if it was but tolerably understood, the world would cease wondering why the ministers of Christ, instead of giving lectures of morality, and inculcating focial duties, infift so much on faith or believing the testimony of God about his Son. Įt might be a sufficient apology for them, that the Apostle Paul set the example; for he determined to know nothing among the Corinthians but Jesus Christ, and him crucified: and he had great good reason; for he is the way, the truth, and the life. So that no man can come unto the Father but, by him. And if there is any truth in him that can be depended on, no man can fo much as know the Father, but such as he manifests him to. But he who hath feen
him hath seen the Father ; for he is the perfect image of the invisible God: and, which is more, the Father is in him, and he in the Father, in such a manner, that one cannot be seen without the other : and, which is yet more to us, by fending him to be the Saviour of the world, God has displayed his true character, and what we have either to hope or fear from the great creator and proprietor, of the universe. As therefore it is only by the testimony and record which he has made concerning his Son that we can know any thing of him, the necessity of faith can never be too strongly inculcated: for if the testimony is not believed and acquiesced in, it can be of no more use to us than if it had never been given, unless it is to increase our condemnation: For thus we find it stated by the very truth itself: This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.
But the neceffity, and what is more, the incomparable worth and excellency of faith will further appear from its use, and the great purposes which it is designed to anfwer, and 'most certainly does answer, where-ever it is real and unfeigned; which, in one word, is to produce universal holiness in heart and life: For the Apostle says, it works, and works by love; and love, we are well assured, is the fulfilling of the whole law. So much as there is love, so much holiness, and no more: and perfect love is perfect holiness; for he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God. And if we can perceive how faith works love, and works by it, we will perceive the whole mystery of Christianity, that hidden wisdom, which God hath ordained before the world for our glory.
. When the Apostle says faith works, his intention, in this place, is not so much to distinguish it from what James calls a dead faith, which indeed is no faith at all, as to describe the true nature, and what may very properly be called the very efsence of it; that it is an active principle, which cannot be idle so much as a moment, unless it is marred and hindered by fome counterbalance, as he tells us downward, that the flesh lufteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. · No body needs be told what believing is: but it will be very necessary to be told what it is we are to believe; and it will