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despise good works, or over-rate works, and slight ‘ precious faith.'
The world, I grant, is full of Gallios, easy or busy men, who seldom trouble themselves about faith or works, law or gospel. Their latitudinarian principles perfectly agree with their loose couduct : And if their volatile minds are fixed, it is only by a steady adherence to such commandments as these : “Be not righteous over much :-Get and spend :-Marry or be given in marriage :-Eat and drink:-Lie down to sleep and rise up to play :-Care neither for heaven nor hell :Mind all of earth, but the awful spot allotted thee for a grave,”' &c. However, while they punctually observe this decalogue, their conscience is sometimes awakened to a sense of corroding guilt, commonly called uneasiness, or low spirits : And if they cannot shake it off by new scenes of dissipation, new plunges into sensual gratifications, new schemes of hurrying business ; if a religious concern fastens upon their breasts, the tempter deludes them, by making his false coio pass for the gold tried in the fire.' If his dupes will have faith, he makes them take up with that of the Antinomians. If they are for works, he recommends to them those of the self-righteous. And if some seem cut out to be brands in the church ; fiery, persecuting, implacable zealots ; he gives them a degree in the university of Babel : One is a Bachelor of the science of sophistry, another a Mnster of the liberal art of calumny, and a third a Doctor in human, or diabolical divinity : But if all these graduates have not as much faith as Simon Magus, or as many works as the conceited Pharisee ; yet they may have as much zeal for the church as the bigot, who set out from Jerusalem for Damascus in pursuit of heretics. They may sometimes pursue those who dissent from them, even unto strange cities.'
Has not the world always swarmed with those devotees, who, blindly following after faith without loping obedience, or after obedience without loving faith, have made harock of the church,' and driven myriads
of wordly men to a settled contempt of godliness : While a few, by equally standing up for true faith and universal obedience, have alone kept up the honour of religion in the world ? Take a general view of the church, and you will see this observation confirmed by a variety of black, bright, and nixt characters.
The first man born of a woman, is a striking picture of perverted maukind. He is at once a sullen Pharisee, and a gross Antinomnian : He sacrifices to God, and murders his brother. Abel, the illustrious type of converted sinners, truly believes, and acceptably sacrifices. Faith and works shine in his life with equal lustre ; and in his death we see what the godly may expect from the impious church and the pious world. Protomartyr for the doctrine of this Check, he falls the first innocent victim to Pharisaical pride and Antinomian fury. • The sons of God' mix with the daughters of men, learn their works,' and 'make shipwreck of the faith.' Enoch nevertheless truly believes in God, and humbly walks with him : Faith and works equally adorn his character. The world is soon full of mishelief, and the earth of violence. Noah, however, believes and works : He credits God's word, and builds the ark. This woRK ' condemus the world, and he hecomes heir of the righteousness which is by FAITH.'
Consider Abraham ; see how he believes and works ! God speaks, and he leaves his house, his estate, his friends, and native country. His faith works by love; he exposes his life to recover his neiglıbour's property, he readily gives up to Lot his right of choice to prevent a quarrel, he earnestly intercedes for Sodom, he charitably hopes the best of its wicked inhabitants, he gladly entertains strangers, humbly washes their feet, diligently instructs his household, and submissively offers up Isaac his favourite son, the child of his old age, the hope of his family, his own heir, and that of God's promise : By these works his faith is made perfect,' and he deserves to be called the Father of the faithful. VOL. II.
Moses treads in his steps : He believes, quits Pharaoh's court, and suffers affliction with the people of God. Under his conduct the Israelites believe, obey, and cross the Red Sea with an high hand; but soon after they murmur, rebel, and provoke divine vengeance. Thus the destruction, which they had avoided in Goshen through obedient faith, they meet in the wilderness through the works of unbelief.' Nature is up in arms to punish their backslidings. The pestilence, the sword, earthquakes, fiery serpents, and fire from heaven, combine to destroy the ungrateful, Antinomian apostates.
In the days of Joshua, that eminent type of Christ, faith and works are happily reconciled ; and whilst they walk hand in hand, Israel is invincible, the greatest difficulties are surmounted, and the land of pronrise is conquered, divided, and enjoyed.
Under the next Judges, faith and works seldom meet; but as often as they do, a deliverance is wrought in Israel. Working believers carry all before them : They
can do all things through the Lord strengthening them :' They are little omnipotents : But if they suffer the Antinomian Delilah to cut off their locks, you may apply to them the awful words of David : (spoken to magistrates, who forsake the way of righteousness :)
I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High ; but ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes;' like Zimri or Corah, Dathan or Abiram.
The character of Samuel, the last of the Judges, is perfect. From the cradle to the grave he believes and works; he serves God and his generation. His sons, like those of Eli, halt in practice, and their faith is au abomination to God and mau. David believes, works, and kills the blaspheming Philistine. He slides into Antinomiau faith, wantonly seduces a married woman, and perfidiously kills an honest man. Solomon follows him in the narrow path of working faith, and in the broad way of speculative and practical Antinomianism. The works of the son correspond with those of the
father. Happy for him, if the repentance of the idolatrous king equalled that of his adulterous parent!
In the days of Elijah, the gates of hell seemed to have prevailed against the church. Queen Jezebel had 'cut off the prophets of the Lord,' and appointed 400 chaplains to his majesty king Ahab, who shared the dainties of the royal table, and therefore found it easy to demoustrate, that 'pleading for Baal' was orthodoxy, and prosecuting honest Naboth as a blasphemer of God and the king,' was an instance of true loyalty. But then all were not lost: Seven thousand men shewed their faith by their works; they firmly believed in Jehovah, and steadily refused bowing the knee to Baal.
In the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, wickedness, persecution, and imaginary good works, prevailed under a show of zeal for the temple, and of regard for the people of God. But even then also, there was a small remnant of believing and working souls, who set fire to the stubble of wickedness during the pious reign of Hezekiah and Josiah.
Follow the chosen nation to Babylon. They all profess the faith still : But how few believe and work! Some do, however : And by their work of faith' and
patience of hope' they quench the violence of fire,' and stop the mouths of lions :' And what is more extraordinary still, they strike with astonishment a fierce tyrant, a Nebuchadnezzar; they fill with wooder a cowardly king, a Darius : And disarming the former of his rage, the latter of his fears, they sweetly force them both to confess the true God among their idolatrous courtiers, and, throughout their immense dominions.
In the days of Herod, the double delusion is at the height. John the Baptist boldly hears bis testimony against it in the wilderness, and our Lord upon the mount, in the temple, and every where. But, alas ! what is the consequence ? By detecting the Antinomianism of the Pharisees, and the Pharisaism of Antinomians, he makes them desperate. The spirit of Cain
rises with tenfold fury against an innoceuce far superior to that of Abel. Pharisees and Herodians must absolutely glut their malice with his blood. He yields to their rage ; and while he puts away sin by the sacrifice of himself,' he condescends to die a martyr for the right faith, and the true works; he seals as a dying priest the truth of the two gospel-axioms, which he had so often sealed as a living prophet, and continues to seal as an eternal Melchisedec.
The apostles, by precept and example, powerfully enforce their Lord's doctrine and practice. Their lives are true copies of their exhortations : Their deepest sermons are only exact descriptions of their behaviour. It is hard to say which excite men most to believe and obey, their seraphic discourses or their angelic conduct. Their labours are crowned with general success. Judaism and Heathenism are every where struck at, and fall under the thunder of their words of faith, and the shining power (might I not say the lightning ?) of their works of love. Thus the world is turned upside down' before faith and works ; ‘the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord ;' and earth, cursed as it is, becomes a Paradise for obedient believers.
Hell trembles at the revolution ; and before all is lost, Satan hastens to 'transform himself into an angel of light.' In that favourable disguise, he puts his usual stratagem in execution against the believing, working, and suffering church. He instils speculative faith, pleads for relaxed manners, puts the badge of contempt upon the daily cross, and gets the immense body of the Gnostics and Laodiceans into his snare. Sad and sure is the consequence. The genuine works of faith are neglected : Idle works of men's invention are substituted for those of God's commandments. And fallen churches, through the smooth way of Antinomianism, return to the covert, way of Pharisaism, or to the broad way of Infidelity.
Such was the deplorable condition of the western church when Luther appeared. True faith was de