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And the acknowledging of the truth, which is after godli
ness ; according to the faith of God's elect....Tit. i. 1.
St. Paul, though an eminently distinguished apostle of Jesus, yet, in regard to the salvation of his own soul, his extraordinary gifts procured it not; nor could his former hatred and persecution of Jesus and his members frustrate the electing love of God, or obstruct the sovereign operations of the Holy Spirit. But being chosen of God in Christ Jesus, his heart must partake of the precious faith of God's elect. Love, almighty, wonderful love, seized him; Jesus challenged him as one of his redeemed souls; stopped him in his mad career; touched his heart, and brought him trembling and astonished to his feet: and the power of faith in his heart was manifested by the obedient cry of his lips, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"....Acts ix. 6.
Thus election is a doctrine according to godliness. Faith in the heart is an evidence of interest in God's electing love. It is a special gift of grace, and is connected with salvation.... Eph. ii. 8. Faith proves itself to be a genuine grace of the Holy Spirit, for it submits to and trusts in Jesus' righteousness for justification; his blood for pardon; his all-prevailing merits and intercession for life. Thus faith glorifies Jesus as priest, to atone; honors Jesus as king, to rule and govern; and yields obedience to him as a prophet, to instruct in the truths of godliness. So the believing soul is stript of every self-righteous plea; brought as an humble, self-condemned sinner to the feet of Jesus; and glories in him as his only hope for life and whole salvation. If there is no election of sinners by God the Father, there is no true faith; for saving faith is peculiar to God's elect only. Do any object, "I do not believe the doctrine of election?' We only say, we cannot help you, we pity you, you do not understand your bible, you do not yet “ acknowledge the truth which is after godliness." The faith of God's elect springs from God's electing love; has Jesus for its author and finisher, his life and death for its object, the truths of God's word for its warrant, God's promise in Christ Jesus its support, love and holiness its evidence, sure and certain salvation is its end. Well may this be called precious faith indeed.
Whereas mere human faith, as it arises only from the power of the creature, it centers only in nature and self, talks high of terms and conditions, boasts much of human abilities, opposes free-grace, exalts the sinner, debases Jesus, denies the imputation of his righteousness, and renders salvation not only precarious and uncertain, but utterly impossible. O soul, study this truth daily! it tends to humility and rejoicing. “By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."....Eph. iii 8.
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of
salvation....Isa. xii. 3.
WHY, THEREFOREX What had the church done to procure such an inestimable promise? O the joyful day of her public espousal to Jesus is come. THAT DAY, that blessed day of power, when the loving bride claims her beloved bridegroom, Jesus. Therefore she sings this joyful song, “Behold God is my salvation: I will trust, and not be afraid, for the LORD Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” The claims of the faith of poor sinners are well pleasing in the sight of God; they honor his word, glorify him, and cause joy in heaven among the angels; while the humble claimants obtain the consolation and joy thereof. « Them that honor me I will honor, saith the Lord,” “ therefore with joy shall they draw," &c.
This was not to be a transient fit of comfort, but an inexhaustible fountain of joy. Believers are to come daily and draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation. Jehovah, the Father, is “the fountain of living waters."...Jer. ii. 13. Salvation takes its first spring from his everlasting love, is secured by his unalterable covenant and unchangeable promises. The Spirit and his grace are called "a well of water, springing up to everlasting life." ....John iv. 14. He shews poor sinners their want of Jesus this living water, its freeness and sweetness; supplies them with the bucket of faith to draw with joy, and drink with pleasure. This well of salvation by Jesus was opened in paradise: its streams have run through every successive age of the church. Patriarchs, prophets, apostles, believers in all ages have had their hearts made glad, and their souls joyful thereby.
The everlasting love of the Father, the rich grace of the Son, the exuberant joy of the Holy Ghost, compose these wells of salvation. Yet it is but one fountain of grace, flowing from the unity of the divine essence, and is communicated to us out of the fulness of the man Jesus: hence we are invited by Jesus, “ O friends, O beloved, drink! yea drink abundantly."....Cant. v. 1.' This fountain is ever free, full, and inexhaustible. Why, O why then arc we not always joyful? Why do we ever complain for want of comfort? This well is ever open, this fountain ever near. Why do we so much neglect, so often forsake this fountain of living waters? Where is our faith? Why is that precious grace given us, but for use and exercise? So shall we the more glorify the God of all consolation, be refreshed in our spirits, and made fruitful in our lives; and our thirst allayed after the perishing comforts of time and sense. For saith Jesus, “ Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.”.... John iv. 14.
Even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that ree might be
justified by the fuith of Christ....Gal. ii. 16.
“We therefore do make this definition of a christian, that he is not one who is without sin, but one to whom God imputeth not his sin through faith in Christ. Here we must be nothing at all, but only receive the treasure, which is Christ, and apprehend him in our hearts by faith, though we feel ourselves to be never so full of sin. Thus God will glorify his Son, and be glorified in us through him." Thus speaketh Luther. Having the same spirit of faith, we thus speak, make the same confession, rejoice in the same hope, are justified by the same Jesus, comforted by the same truth, sanctified by the same Spirit, are heirs of the same promises, and entitled to to the same kingdom. And ever remember, all is of free grace.
Here the most dignified apostle, as well as the most obscure sinner are upon a level.
There is no difference. Both have the same evils to be delivered from, the same object to be saved by, both believe in one Jesus to the same blessed end, to enjoy peace and pardon from God the Father. In the knowledge of this consists all our comfort; and for this, as poor needy sinners, we are constantly to cleave to Jesus from hour to hour. Have we believed many years since, that we might be justified? True, once justified, and ever so; never after condemned, as viewed in Jesus in the sight of God. “For who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth?"....Rom. viii. 33, 34. But how is it now in our consciences? Faith is a rooted grace; it cannotbe lost. Love is its inseparable companion; sweet peace its blessed fruit. But “ Do ye now believe?" said Jesus. Have you the love of God now in you? Doth the sense of peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, now abide in the heart? If not, intervening clouds, from the world, sin, Satan, or the law, intercept the light of God's countenance, and the sunshine of his love. What then? must we live and die without hope? No: blessed be God, he rests in his love: it is ever the same. Jesus ever lives and prays; gospel-grace is still proclaimed to the wretched. Come, as at the beginning, to Jesus, owning sin, grieving for folly, and believe in him that we may be justified in our consciences, and have a fresh sense of pardon and peace. “They that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”....Psalm ix, 10.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass....Psalm xxxvii. 5.
We are too apt to forget where we are, what we are called to, and whither we are going. When we take a survey of the present state of men and things; judge according to appearances in nature and sense, and see one event happen alike to all, we are ready to ask, What advantage then hath the christian? or what profit is there to new-born, believing souls? Much every way. For unto them, chiefly, are committed the lively oracles of God. The bible is an epistle of love. The tender affections of our loving Father, the living and dying compassions of our elder brother Jesus, breathe in every page. Here we see the various conflicts and trials our former brethren in the flesh were exercised with; how they were supported under; and carried through all, safe to glory; and this, by the very same grace and power which is still our happy portion. They being dead, yet speak to us; to animate and encourage our hearts to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. We see in them the inexplicable mysteries of providence unveiled, how out of the weakness of natúre they were made strong in grace.
It is the glory and excellency of believers to take their views, and form their judgment from God's truths; to oppose nature, sense, and feeling; to stand still and wait to see the salvation of God; to omit no appointed means, but to be diligent in the ways of God's institutions ; quietly and patiently submitting every issue to his wisdom and goodness. This is the obedience of faith, and is attended with the patience of hope, and the issue is always determined in love: it is impossible it should be otherwise, for it is the immutable decree of heaven: “all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."....Rom. viii. 28.
Committing our way to God unburdens the mind; trusting our all to him, makes the heart quite easy; relying on him, to bring our concerns to pass, makes the spirit joyful. But when carnal reason is suffered to make its report, then with Jacob we cry, 66 All these things are against us." Hence fainting and drooping come from fear, fear from doubting, doubting from unbelief, and unbelief chiefly prevails through ignorance and inattention to God's word of grace, his covenant love, precious promises, and solemn oath in Christ Jesus. Ever needful is this prayer of faith, “Lord, increase our. faith.”....Luke xvii. 5.
How easy I live,
I'm safe like a bird,
Thou standest by faith. : Be not high-minded, but fear....
Rom. xi. 20.
So we are called upon by the spirit of prophesy, “Behold, (give the most earnest-attention, let this truth- sink deep in your hearts) his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him."....Habak. ii. 4d Standing by faith, and living by faith, are ever opposed to pride, · vain confidence, and an high conceit of our own attainments. True faith in Jesus sinks the soul in humility, works by real love to God, is accompanied with a child-like fear of offending him, and excites to a godly jealousy over our own souls, lest we fall.... fall into. sin, fall away from the hope of the gospel, fall from the precious privileges of Jesus, and the comforting sense of his love. Without this, what is profession, but an empty name, talking ever so highly, but a sound of words, pretension to the greatest things, but a vain shadow, while the substance is not enjoyed?
It is the glorying of believers in Jesus that they are “ delivered out of the hands of their enemies, that they might serve God in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life,"...Luke i. 74, 75....and it is added, “ without fear.” But are we to cast off all kind of fear of God? No verily: no more than faith in him, love to him, and hope of enjoying him. One would dread such a state most of all, the Lord himself being judge. .“ Know therefore, and see that it is an evil and bitter thing, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my FEAR is not in thee, saith the Lord God of Hosts."....Jer. ii. 19.
Glory to Jesus, by his grace the bands of legal bondage are broken asunder; the cords of slavish fear, of wrath and hell, we cast from vus: yet faith and fear go hand in hand. And this is the blessedness of everlasting love and new covenant grace, “I, saith Jehovah, will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. So shall they fear me for ever for their good.”....Jer. xxxii. 40. This is the precious fear the apostle exhorts to, which is ever to be cherished in the heart, and attended to in one's daily walk. A fear of departing from the Lord Jesus tends to keep the soul close to him. Fear of offending causes watchfulness. Hope in a sin-pardoning God produceth fear; a sense of pardon increaseth it. " There is forgiveness with thee; that thou mayest be feared.”....Psalın cxxx. 4. “Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.”....Prov. xxviii., 14.