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Saviour. St. Paul hath set this blessed truth in the clearest light in his Epistle to the Galatians : “ This only would I learn of you, saith the Apostle, received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?” The Galatians had already embraced the gospel, but were now in no small danger of being deceived by persons of the same sentiment with those mentioned in this chapter. Therefore the apostle reasons with them as we have heard. He asks, did you receive the Spirit of God in his purifying influences, by your own obedience to the law, or are you not conscious that you received this unspeakable blessing, by hearing that gospel whereby you were taught to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for life and salvation Again, “ He that ministereth unto you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Here he speaks of those ministers who had preached the gospel to them, he therefore reasons with them concerning the happy effects which the gospel had already been attended with. As if he had said, he who preached the gospel to you, which has been accompanied with the purifying influences of the Holy Ghost, did he preach salvation by the works of the law to you, or did he not direct your views to Christ, and taught you to believe in 'him for redemption and salvation? Once more, " That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, and that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
4. From these words it appears that the promises of God respecting the gift of the Holy Spirit are only fulfilled to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that it is not any thing we can either do or suffer, which hath a sanctifying effect upon the mind, but a lively faith in the Redeemer is always attended with the renewing influences of the Holy Ghost.
The Apostle assures us that there is no other name under heaven given to man whereby we can be saved, but by the name of the Lord Jesus,” and he is an all-sufficient Saviour, able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him. He hath perfectly accomplished the work of redemption, and procured mercy to pardon our sins, be they ever so many or ever so great, and a sufficiency of grace to renew our souls in righteousness, let them be ever so deeply fallen, and all this mercy and grace are freely offered to us in the gospel, and that without money or price. The promises which the bless sed God hath left upon record in his word, can only be realized to us by faith in the Promise-maker. He that believeth shall be saved, is the unchangeable decree of God, and he
always did; and always will abide by his own word. It must follow upon our believing, that the mercy and love of God in Christ Jesus are extended to us, in the pardon of our past sins, and we tre fully and freely justified ; divine grace is also communicated to us, and a real change is wrought in the mind. And as we experience the peace of God in our conscience, so also the divine nature is imparted which purifies the soul, according to the degree of that heavenly treasure which we enjoy, and this will be in proportion to our faith.
It follows of course, that our gracious Lord redeems us from the guilt and the power of sin at the same time, and conse. quently by the same means. He who said by the Prophet,
Look unto me and be saved all ye ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else;" not only intends that we should be saved from all guilt and condemnation by looking unto him; this is only one, and the least part of the salvation of God. We beholding as in a glass, saith the Apostle, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord, so that he certainly intends to raise us from the ruins of the fall, and to bring us out of the bondage of sin and corruption, into the marvellous light and glorious liberty of the sons of God, by looking unto Jesus;
who is the author and finisher, or perfecter of our faith." To deny this, would be the same thing as to deny that we are to be saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, and this would in effect be the same as to say, we must all finally and eternally perish.
But it is not only clear that we must be purified by faith, but also it is equally clear that we shall be purified according to our measure or degree of faith. “ According to thy faith so be it done unto thee, is the gracious word of the blessed God, and he will certainly make it good to every believer. How justly may we admire his condescending mercy and love, so fully manifested to us in such gracious declarations as this! Does not the words of our Lord to the
distressed woman, who came to him in behalf of her afflicted daughter, teach us the same thing woman great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” If then our will and desire is, to be saved in as high a degree as our Lord would have us, and if with earnest desire after this grace, we draw near to him, believing the truth of the promises, which respect our entire sanctification of body, soul and spirit, may we not expect that our kind and gracious God, who hath pleasure in the prosperity of them who fear him, and who hath said, “ open thy mouth wide and I will fill it,” will make good his own declaration, and seal his holy word upon our minds.
Faith my be considered as purifying the heart, in as much as it certainly is the instrument whereby we are united to the holy Jesus, and made one with him. “I am the vine, saith Jesus, and ye are the branches, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.'
Likewise the Apostle speaks of the believer being grafted into Christ the good olive-tree, and of consequence partaking of the root and fatness of the olive-tree. Thus we see that the soul being united to, and made spiritually one with the Lord Jesus, receives continual supplies of grace from him; he is strengthened, comforted, and renewed in the spirit of his mind. For as there certainly is the
very same life in the branch that there is in the vine, so he who is
St. Paul, is one Spirit, Christ is joined to the Lord, so; , formed in him, he lives under the influence of his Spirit, and therefore must be holy in heart, and in life, and in all his conversation.
That faith purifies the heart will appear if we consider the apostle's words: “ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is the substance or the subsistence of things hoped for, it realizes spiritual and eternal things to the mind, it brings them into open day-light, and we see them in their own native beauty, and discern their intrinsic worth, so that they appear worthy of our highest regard, and we feel our minds divinely impressed with such a deep sense of their inestimable value, that our whole soul is a-thirst for the enjoyment of the heavenly treasure. Hence the mind willingly turns away from the trifling vanities of time and sense, and steadily and earnestly pursues that which is of infinitely greater value. The world is now crucified to us, and we are crucified to the world. It has lost all its
power to allure, us, or to draw our minds from God, we see its empţiness and yanity, and can no more relish or delight in those things which formerly yielded us a momentary pleasure. Thus faith purifies the mind from all inordinate love of the worldBefore we experienced the faith of the gospel, we saw no more beauty or excellency in the things of the Spirit of God, than the Jews did in the Lord Jesus Christ. The veil was upon our hearts, and although we might read the sacred scriptures, we did not understand them. This holy book of God was sealed, and the heavenly treasure it contains was hid from our eyes. But when faith came, the veil was taken away, and divine light was abundantly communicated to our minds, the mystery of man's redemption by Christ Jesus was unfolded, the grand design of God in sending Christ into the
world was opened, and we could now look into the sacred treasury of the promises of God. We read the holy scriptures with astonishment, and often wondered, not a little, why we could not see these things before now. The more we considered the nature of that sacred treasure which was brought to light, the more fully we were satisfied that it was every way calculated to satisfy our most enlarged desires, and to make us truly happy. -- With what supreme delight do we now contemplate the gracious designs of God, as they respect our present and eternal salvation With what sacred pleasure do we read and meditate upon the precious promises of the gospel, and more especially so, as we are verify persuaded that they are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus, and that it is the design of qur God to seal them upon our hearts. "My sheep," saith the Redeemer, “ hear my voice. What solid peače, what substantial happiness muşt it give us to hear him say by his inspired servant, “ What man is he who feareth' the Lörd, him shall he teach in the way that he shall chuse, his soul shall dwell at ease, and his seed shall inherit the earth, the secret of the Lord is with them who fear him, and he will shew them his cove: nant.” Again, " Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he will give thee the desire of thine heart:?? . Once more, « The Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thý soul in drought, and make fạt thy bones, and thy soul shall be as a watered garden and as a spring of water, whose waters fail not." From all these and a thousand other scriptures it appears, that the Lord hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servants, and that he rejoiceth over them to do them good. Was it not so, we should not hear the Psalmist say, “The Lord hath chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure," nor would the prophet Isaiah have said, "As the bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride, so will thy God rejoice over thee.” Hence we learn, that the grace of God may be justly compared to the waters of the sanctuary which the prophet saw flowing from under the door of the temple. He tells us that the angel took him through these waters, and they took him up to the ancles; he then measured a certain space and took him through the waters, and they took him up to the knees, after this they took the prophet up to the loins, but when the angel had measured once more, they were a river deep and wide, so that the man of God must swim, or he could not pass over. Thus by the eye of faith we see,
in how bountiful a manner the Lord designs to deal with us; but through every stage of the christian life we should remember that important word: “ According to thy faith, so be it done unto thee.” The unsearchable riches of Christ will. always be communicated to us in proportion to our faith. May not this be illustrated from the example of the poor widow who cried to the prophet in her extreme distress : What hast thou got in the house? said the man of God. Nothing, said the poor distressed woman, but a little oil in a barrel. Go, said he, borrow empty vessels, borrow not a few, and then shut the door upon thee, and pour out and set aside that which is full. She did so, and filled all the vessels which her sons had brought her, and she said, bring me yet another vessel, but was answered, there are no more, and the oil then stayed. The bounty of God we see was to her according to her faith, had she got more vessels no doubt they would have all been filled : And is it not so with the riches of divine grace? Will not the Lord fulfil the desire of them that fear him, and will he not save to the uttermost all those who simply follow the teachings of his blessed Spirit? Who can doubt of this, who seriously considers that solemn prayer which our blessed Redeemer offered up to his heavenly Father, in our behalf, with his dying breath: Having first most devoutly prayed for his disciples, he then proceeds : “ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” We have believed in him through their word, therefore our Lord prayed for us, in that solemn hour when he was just about to be offered up. But we hear him still praying for us in such a manner as may justly fill us with holy astonishment: “ That they all may be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they all may be one in us, that the world may
believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory that thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one ; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know thạt thou hast sent me and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” Here, if ever, we may admire the love of God in Christ Jesus towards us, and may rejoice in hope of our Lord's prayer being fully answered in our behalf.
There certainly is a strange propensity in man to limit the Holy One of Israel, and in effect to say to God himself, hitherto shalt thou go but no farther. Hence a variety of objections will be made against what has already been said. Some will reply, Does not our Lord teach us that his grace may be compared to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three mea. sures of meal till the whole lump was leavened, and do not these words naturally convey this idea to the mind ? that as