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Every unreclaimed sinner must be utterly inexcuse. able ; for he has received the grace of God in vain.
Let the awakened be encouraged to seek salvation. Draw hope from the examples of God's mercy to others; improve every good beginning in yourselves ; let every conviction excite you to seek more grace ; wait upon God, and hope in his mercy, that the work begun in you will be performed to the day of Christ.
Salvation, not by Works, but by Grace through Faith.
EPHESIANS ii. 8, 9, 10.
For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of your
selves, it is the gift of God : Not of works lest any man should boast ; for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ondained, that we should walk in them.
THE Apostle here asserts, in general terms, that our salvation is of grace. This is an obvious conclusi on from the doctrine already proposed and proved. If, when we were dead in sins, God hath quick. ened us and raised us up with Christ, our salvation can be only in a way of grace ; for they who are dead, surely can do nothing which should deserve so mighty an interposition for their recovery,
In what sense our salvation is of grace the Apostle next explains. It is not of ourselves ; it is the gift of God. That which is a gift from God, without any right of demand an our part, is of grace. As the gos. pel finds us involved in guilt, slaves to the world, and. chiidren of wrath, we can pretend no claim to salvation : If we obtain it, we must be wholly indebted to
This truth the Apostle farther illustrates by stating the manner in which we are saved. We are saved by faith, not of works, lest any man should boast. The great condition of our salvation is faith ; and this in its nature includes a reliance on the promise of God. And if salvation comes to us in consequence of our trusting in the promise which God has freely made, it comes only by grace. Not of works, lest any man should boast. Works, indeed, are necessary to salvation, for God hath ordained thai we shall walk in them: But works give us no cause of boasting ; for we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
We will here consider, How we are saved by faith illustrate the influence that works have in our salvation --and shew that our salvation, though connected with works, is not the less of grace.
1. We will consider, How we are saved by, or through faith.
The salvation here intended the Apostle describes in the former chapter, and in the preceding verses of this. It is a deliverance from that ruined state into which the apostacy has plunged us, and a restoration to the divine favor with all its happy effects. It is begun here in the pardon of sin ; it is completed in the enjoyment of the glorious riches of the heavenly inheritance, and in our sitting with Christ Jesus, who is now on the right hand of the throne of God. The faith, through which we are saved, is expressed
our trusting, and believing in Christ, after we have heard the word of truth
and the gospel of our salvation.” This faith is accompanied with a divine power which quickens and raises the soul, once dead in sin, to a spiritual life in conformity to the pattern of Christ. The fruit of faith is our being sealed and sanctified by the spirit of promise, and having in our souls an earnest of the future inheritance.
To form an idea of the nature of saving faith, we need only to consider, what we ourselves are, and what
the gospel of Christ is. We are fallen, guilty crea. tures, children of disobedience, worthy of death. The gospel is a discovery of the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. Faith, therefore, is the consent and sub. mission of the soul to this way of salvation. It is such a persuasion, that Jesus is the Son of God and the Sa viour of men, and such a desire and expectation of sala' vation through him, as engages us to commit our souls to his care, and devote our lives to his service. The operation of faith, is to cast down our vain imagina.. tions, to humble within us every high thing which exalts itself against the knowledge of God; and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
When we are said to be saved by faith, these two things are implied, That without faith we cannot be saved ; and that all who have faith will be saved!
1. The expression implies, that without faith we' cannot be saved. • This is the express doctrine of our divine Saviour. " If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. He that believeth not is condemned already, He shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Faith is necessary in the appointment of God. As? salvation is his gift, so he has stated the terms on" which he will bestow it ; and it is absurd to expect it on any other. Obstinate unbelief is a refusal of that plan of salvation, which his wisdom has fixed; and therefore a rejection of salvation itself.
Faith is necessary in the nature of the case ; for when salvation is offered in a particular way, our refusing to accept it in this way, discovers such pride and perverseness of heart as render us incapable of enjoy. ing it in any way.
Whatever knowledge we have of the doctrines of the gospel, if this knowledge is not accompanied with such a belief of those doctrines as gives them a humbling
and purifying influence, it cannot save us. The knowl, edge of religion, if it is only speculative, is, like othen speculative knowledge, useless and vain. If a man have all knowledge, and have not charity, he is nothing. Knowledge puffeth up; but charity edifieth.
Morality without faith will not save us. Morality, indeed, in the largest sense of the word, comprises the whole of religion-not only external good works, but a right temper of heart—not only the social virtues, justice, truth and honesty ; but the graces of piety, love to God and faith in the Redeemer. But morality, taken in the vulgar sense for the external practice of virtue, and a freedom from gross impiety and wicked. ness, will not avail to our salvation. There must be purity of heart: And wherever this takes place, there will be a humble submission to, and reliance on that glorious Mediator, whom God has appointed and re. vealed. It is morally right, that we should regard all beings according to their
known relations to us. And since Christ is exhibited to us in the character and relation, of a Redeemer, it is as reasonable and necessary, that we should regard and trust him in this re. lation, as that we should love and fear God. And it is as absurd for us, who enjoy the gospel, to pretend to virtue and piety without faith in Christ, as without reverence to the Deity.
2. The expression in the text implies, that all who bave faith will be saved.
This the gospel expressly declares and promises in a variety of terms and phrases, which are so familiar to you, that I need not rehearse them.
When we read those passages which contain the promises of salvation to faith, we must always keep in mind, what the gospel means by faith—not a mere assent to, and profession of the truth; but such a belief · as purifies the heart and governs the life. Salvation is promised to repentance and to obedience, as well as to mith; for these are all connected together, and each in.