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wholly new, entirely peculiar, and wonderfully great, demand of him the most constant and exact obedience to the law of God. In this great particular, “ the law,' instead of being * made void,' is, according to the language of the apostle, • established' by the scheme of justification by faith.
4. The faith of the Christian is the real source of evange lical obedience.
The truth of this assertion has been already sufficiently proved, and can never be rationally questioned, while the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews remains a part of the word of God. There it is shown, that faith is the direct source of obedience in all its forms, and all its degrees; of great attainments in Christian excellence, and of all attainments of this nature; of working righteousness, and inheriting promises; of pleasing God, and securing a title to the heavenly country. It is exhibited as the energy by which we vigorously act in the service of God, patiently submit, and firmly endure. It is exhibited as 'the victory, by which we overcome the world ;' and the shield, with which we become able to quench all the fiery darts of the adversary.'
Faith, then, is the spirit, the disposition, with which the Christian feels, and without which he cannot feel, the various motives to obedience furnished by the law of God; motives presented by the excellence of the law itself, and of the government founded on it, the greatness of its sanction, and the glory of its Author. In an eminent degree, also, is it the spirit which feels the peculiar motives presented by the evangelical scheme of justification, and mentioned under the last head. These, it hardly needs to be observed, can be realized by no other disposition. The mind, under the expectation of meriting justification, either wholly or partially, by its own righteousness, proportionally recedes from just and affecting views of the excellency of Christ's righteousness, and its infinite importance to itself. Its sense of obligation, and its motives to gratitude, are proportionally lessened; and in the same proportion are diminished its inducements to obey, and its actual obedience. In this all-important sense also faith is the only real establishment of the law.
5. Those who have holden this doctrine have been the most exact and cxemplary observers of the law.
If this be admitted, it must be allowed to put the question out of debate ; for it cannot be denied that the scheme of those who obey the law most faithfully in their lives, is the scheme which most influences and ensures obedience. It is my business, then, to prove this position. For this purpose I refer you generally to those discourses in which I impeached the doctrine and the conduct of the Unitarians, and to the Letters of the Rev. Andrew Fuller on the moral tendency of the Calvinistic and Socinian systems. Your attention, at
, the present time is requested particularly to the following arguments, which I shall only state, and leave to your consideration.
(1.) Their antagonists have extensively acknowledged this position to be true. The confession of an adversary, in a practical case, may be usually assumed as decisive evidence.
(2.) Those who have held this doctrine, have by the same adversaries been censured, despised, and ridiculed, as being unnecessarily exact and rigidly scrupulous in their observance of the duties of a religious life: while their adversaries have styled themselves, by way of distinction, liberal and rational Christians. This could not have existed, had not these people thus censured been really exact, so far as the human eye could judge, in obeying the commands of God.
(3.) The sermons of ministers holding this doctrine have, with scarcely any exception, urged stricter morality on their hearers, than those of their adversaries. This any man may know who will read both, even to a moderate extent. But this could not have taken place, had not the doctrine itself been peculiarly favourable to obedience.
(4.) Those who have holden this doctrine have much more generally and punctiliously frequented the house of God, and observed the duties of the Sabbath, than their adversaries. This fact is acknowledged by both parties ; and therefore cannot be mistaken.
(5.) Those who have holden this doctrine have, among Protestants, been almost the only persons who have originated, supported, and executed missions, for the purpose of spreading the Gospel among mankind. This fact cannot be questioned. I shall leave you to judge of the evidence
which it contains ; and shall only observe, that the Papists have, indeed, prosecuted missions with great zeal; but that any one who will read the histories of them, will readily discern the end of their efforts to have been the extension of power, and the accumulation of wealth ; not the diffusion of religion.
(6.) The Papists, have very generally holden the doctrine of justification by works; while the Reformers, almost to a man, hold that of justification by faith. The comparative morality of these two classes of men cannot here need any illustration.
THE AGENT IN EFFECTING IT.
TIK HOLY GHOST: HIS CHARACTER.
NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH WE HAVE DONE, BUT
ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY HE SAVED US, BY THE WASHING OF REGENERATION, AND THE RENEWING OF THE HOLY GHOST.
TITUS III. 5.
In the six preceding Sermons, I have considered the manner, in which we become interested in the redemption of Christ; through free grace on the part of God, and on our part by evangelical faith. The manner in which we become possessed
. of this faith, is the next great subject of investigation in a System of Theology.
The text, after denying that we are saved by works of righteousness, and declaring that our salvation is according to the mercy of God, or through his free grace, asserts, that this salration is accomplished by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.
There has been no small dispute among divines about the meaning of the third phrase in this passage ; ‘the washing of regeneration.' Some have supposed it to denote baptism; and some to denote the same thing with the following phrase, • the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Others have interpreted it in other manners. The second interpretation which I have
mentioned is, in my apprehension, the true one. If baptism be intended, the passage is equivalent to the declaration of our Saviour to Nicodemus, * Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God. He is • born of water,' or baptised, indispensably, in order to his admission into the visible kingdom of God; and of the Spirit,' indispensably also, in order to his admission into the invisible and eternal Kingdom of God. As his admission into the former is a symbol of his admission into the latter, so baptism, the means of his admission into the former, is a symbol of regeneration, the means of his admission into the latter. The difference between the two interpretations which I have specified ; will therefore be found ultimately to be immaterial ; the one referring the phrase to the type, and the other to the thing typified. On either scheme it must be admitted, that the apostle declares mankind to be saved by regeneration. Regeneration is therefore that event in the gracious providence of God, by which we become the subjects of faith, entitled to justification, and consequently heirs of salvation.
In the consideration of this subject, two things are in the text presented to our inquiry >
I. The agent in this work.
The agent in the work of renewing the human mind, is declared in this passage to be the Holy Ghost. Two things are naturally presented to us by the mention of a person'sustaining so important a part in the economy of salvation ; a part, without wbich all that has preceded would be wholly defective, and exist to no valuable purpose.
1. His character.
The former of these shall now engage our attention ; and
; my own views concerning it will be sufficiently expressed in this position :
THE HOLY GHOST IS A DIVINE PERSON.
It is well known to those who hear me, that various classes of men, who profess to receive the Bible as the rule of their faith, have denied this proposition; viz. those who deny the