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ane thing, there remained little room to hesitate which should be preferred. It might have been worth while to reflect, that in the natural world there are two kinds of attraction; one, which holds the several parts of individual bodies in contact; another, which maintains the union of bodies themselves with the general system; and that though the union in the former case is much more intimate than in the latter, they are equally essential to the order of the world. Similar to this is the relation which the public and private affections bear to each other, and their use in the moral system."
ALL THE CHRISTIAN GRACES REDUCED TO LOVE, A¤CORDING TO THE HOPKINSIAN PRINCIPLES.
The chapter immediately preceding the last note, must have convinced every reader, that the Hopkinsians decompose the Christian Graces, and reduce them all to one. It is in fact their doctrine, that faith, repentance and hope are all comprehended in a single exercise of love. Let the reader imagine that the following discourse is from the mouth of one of these divines, and that the notes accompanying it are the observations, which a sensible Scotchman whispers to his own heart, during the delivery.
NOW FAITH IS THE SUBSTANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR; THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN."-Heb. xi. 1.
He that believeth shall be saved. Without faith it is impos sible to please God. We are deeply interested therefore, in the inquiry, "what is faith?" Does it consist in the assent of the understanding to divine truth? Is it nothing more
than a perception of the mind, that Jehovah is a being of veracity, and consequently worthy of our confidence?
Faith has the promise of salvation. Is faith a belief of every revealed truth? Must the whole Bible be understood by every one who shall be saved? It seems desirable, that faith should be reduced to its simplest state,* that we may see what it is in itself; and that its effects should be traced, that we may learn to distinguish it in actual existence. What is the nature of saving faith? And how does it discover itself in the children of God? Let us consider
I. Faith in essence; and, II. Faith in operation.
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen." This is an inspired representation, which is worthy of profound regard.
Let us attend to it, with the desire of being thoroughly acquainted with the terms of salvation. Let us search, as those who seek to know the way of life, and to obtain the full assurance of justification through faith in Jesus Christ.
The text distinguishes saving faith from the simple assent of the mind to truth. You may have a firm mental persuasion of the reality of things NOT hoped for, and of things so disregarded by the heart, as to be the object of neither desire nor fear; neither love nor hatred. Saving faith has much concern with the affections. It is the substance of things HOPED FOR.
The text consigns to perdition that cold, inactive, insensible, unprofitable faith, which consists in thought conformed to truth; and which comprehends no more piety than the mathematician's perception that the sum of all the parts is equal to the whole.t
* He must have a good metaphysical laboratory to do that. This reducing of things already simple, commonly confounds men.
Saving faith, however, does not, exclude thought conformed to truth.
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well ;** for there is abundant evidence to prove the existence of the Deity. It is well to admit this truth; for it would be a proof of insanity or idiotism to deny it. This however is not enough. "The devils also believe." They have such faith as is the substance of things not hoped for; which is enmity. This enmity is the substance of that future punishment which they believe will be inflicted on them, after the final judgment. Enmity is the substance of hell-torments. It is enmity which makes the evil angels miserable.* When they believe in things not hoped for, they feel such painful opposition to God, such pride, malice, desire of revenge, and despair, as constitute a copious prelibation of the "wine of the wrath of God," which is to be poured out after the final judgment.
LOVE is the opposite to HATRED. The substance of things hoped for, is LOVE. † This is the essence of saving faith. He who has felt the love of God shed abroad in his heart, in substance participates of those blessings for which he hopes. We do not hope for what we do not desire: and we do not desire what we do not love. Since, therefore, there can be no saving faith without hope; and no hope without desire, and no desire without love; we learn that love is the essence of faith || And where love exists, will be found all those graces which constitute the "new heart."
* What! are there no positive torments in hell? He forgets that this en mity is punished by God.
† Although love is implied in hope, yet it is neither the essence of hope, nor of the things hoped for. What I hope for I also love but love is distinct from hope. I love wealth; but I do not hope for it. love the essence of the things hoped for. I hope to be debts; but love will neither constitute that ability, nor satisfy my cre ditors.
That is truth. Hold it fast!}
Much less is. able to pay my
That does not follow; for things may coexist, and be necessarily con nected, which are not of the same essence.
This may be proved, by the following demonstration.
Christ has taught us, that "except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God;" or, he cannot be saved. Yet he has assured us, that he who believeth, or has faith, shall be saved. It follows, therefore, if both declarations are true. that to be born again, and to receive the gift of faith, are the same thing. Of course the new birth and faith are one in essence.* Again, it is written, that "every one who loveth is born of God." Hence it follows,t since love, produced in man, constitutes the new birth, and since the new birth and faith are the same, that love and saving faith are one in essence. In other words, faith in its simplest state, is love to God.
This love produced in man by the Holy Ghost, is the essence of what is commonly called "the new heart," "the good and honest heart," or "a right disposition." Faith then, in its simplest state, faith in essence, is neither more nor less, than such a right disposition as is produced by regeneration or by the act of God, which causes love in that person who formerly had a carnal mind of unbelief and enmity.
Our Lord Jesus in the parable of the sower, compares the hearts of men to various kinds of ground; and divine truth to seed sown by him who preaches the gospel. Those hearts which he compared to the beaten pathway, to stony and thorny ground, were destitute of saving faith; for although they might "a while believe," yet" in time of temptation" they would "fall away." It is a prerequisite to salvation, that "the fallow ground" of the affections be "broken up" so that the heart shall become "good ground," suitable for the production of the
* Faith is my act. "Lord, I believe." Regeneration is the work of God upon me. I am passive in it; for it is the work of another performed upThat faith is a gift is true; for God enables me to believe. This believing is the first act of a regenerated soul.
on my soul
† Not that love, the effect and evidence of a new heart, is the new heart; but it follows, that he who has not love, the effect, has not the regenerated soul, which is invariably the source of love.
"Other fell on good ground, and sprang up,
The explanation of our Lord "But by the good ground are
may be literally translated thus: meant those, who in an honest and good heart having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with perseverance." Luke viii. 15. Here is our Saviour's representation of saving faith. It is a right disposition. Its essential principle is "an honest and good heart."* Without this, truth may be admitted by the understanding, and have a partial influence on the life: but, without this, no person will so receive the truth, as to be united to Christ, by a saving moral union,† and escape "the wrath to
It is not necessary to ascertain how great a quantity of truth this heart receives, in order to determine whether the person possessing it shall be saved. It is sufficient that the heart, through regeneration, is made good. Now the heart is a figurative expression, used to denote the disposition of the man.
When this disposition, which consists in moral exercises,‡ is changed from enmity to love, from the supreme love of self to the love of God, there is said to be created a holy heart, which receives, cherishes and loves divine truth, to the salvation of the soul. Should death, however, immediately ensue upon the pro
*If faith and a good heart are precisely the same thing, since I am justi. fied by faith, I must also be justified by a good heart. Consequently God does not justify the ungodly. Faith belongs, indeed, to every good heart, as the eye or hand belongs to every complete body. But the hand is not the whole body. The preacher does not seem to know that things can be distinguished, without being separated. I distinguish faith from the state produced in regeneration; but I do not disjoin the two.
Tut! tut! man, what do you mean by moral union? The members of every corporate body have a moral union, even while they cordially oppose and hate one another.
Exercise and disposition are as distinct as matter and motion, the lungs and the act of respiration; or as your written sermon and the act of reading it.