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whom sin was burthensome, and judgment frightful, believed and were saved. saved. Every man that will not believe, has some wicked reasons for it; and he can never believe, till those reasons are given up: on which consideration, it is necessary that repentance should go before faith. What those reasons were in particular, which hindered the people of Jericho from believing, it may now be hard to enumerate: long established idolatry, with the habitual vices attending it, was sufficient; in which pride and presumption are among the chief. I believe, their high walls, and their miraculous downfall, were alluded to in those words of the apostle, where he says; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Such weapons as men use in war, are called carnal: these were not employed against Jericho; but such only as were figurative and mystical, but which, nevertheless, are mighty through God to the casting down the walls of this proud city; such weapons as could have no effect but what he 'gave them. The gospel is such another
weapon; it is sounded by priests; and with the same effect: the high thoughts of man are brought down, and all imaginations fall before it *. In such wicked imaginations did the people of Jericho persist; and therefore they could not understand what was coming upon them. But observe, that though they continued firm. to the last in their unbelief, they were far from being easy. The terror of destruction was upon them, and their hearts melted within them. Thus it is with wicked men: they suffer fear and terror from the state they are in; but it does them no good: they neither grow wiser nor better. What a deplorable case is this! but it was the case almost universally of those wicked nations of Canaan, when they had filled up the measure of their iniquities: and such is the natural end, and last effect of sin: when it has blinded the eyes, it hardens the heart, and then there is no recovery to be expected. The judgments of God are then certain, and his justice is inflexible. When judgment is come, mercy is past; according to that terrible declaation by the prophet Amos; I will set mine yes upon them for evil, and not for good. How readful is it, when it comes to this! when God is determined upon punishment, then it
* See Isaiah, ii. 14.
soon appears what it is to fall into the hands of the living God.
But whatever a sinner may have been, if he returns and makes his peace while the day of mercy lasts, he is never cast out. This doctrine is exemplified in the case of Rahab; who was received to mercy when the city perished. This case, before it is well considered, may seem to give encouragement to sin. What? hath a wicked harlot nothing to do, but to believe and be saved? Here we are too hasty: for when she believed, what did she? She did not sit still to be idle and worthless; but as she believed, so she acted: she received the spies with peace; and saved their lives at the hazard of her own. Surely then, if he who gives only a cup of cold water as a testimony of his faith, is entitled to a reward; he who saves the life of another on the same principle, must be entitled to a greater.
This case of Rahab has given occasion to some reasonings in the scripture, which often are not rightly understood. In the text the apostle teaches us, that by faith the harlot Rahab perished not: but St. James asks; was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? There is here an apparent
parent contradiction in words; but there is none in point of fact; for faith, and the work of faith, are in reality but one and the same thing the faith produces the work; and the work proves the faith; and neither of these can be certain without the other. Faith which does not work is dead; and a work, if a work of faith, justifies: indeed faith itself is a work in the heart of man, and, so the expression of St. James imports; for he says of Abraham, that faith wrought with his works; and so it was a working, that is, a living faith. But the most express declaration to this purpose is the answer of Christ to that question of the Jews; what shall we do, that we might work the works of God? to which he answered, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. So that the dispute which men have raised about faith and works, is without foundation. When these two are asunder, they are nothing': when they are together, they are but the same thing. Faith that is alive will work; and the work will be good, because it is the work of a believer.
They who never considered the power and value of faith toward salvation, may learn how great it is from the history of Rahab's deliverance. When we are told, that Abraham was justified
justified by faith, we do not wonder: we can believe any good of our father Abraham. But that it should avail to the saving of Rahab is extraordinary, and never to be accounted for by the man of the world. The just live by faith; that is, they are not saved for their justice, but for their faith: and if the best are not accepted without faith, the worst may not be condemned if they have it. But why is faith preferred in this manner above all things? I will tell you some of the reasons. Faith in God is a cure, because it is contrary to man's native distemper. Man began to sin with believing a lie and he believed it when told by an enemy; by the enemy of God; as he is still disposed to do at this day; with what propriety of justice then can God receive the man, who refuses to believe HIм upon his word? Faith in the Enemy brought him to ruin, and keeps him in it: nothing can restore him, but its contrary; which is faith in God.
Another reason is, that the way of faith is contrary to the way of man's own wisdom; and is therefore the hardest trial that he can be put to. It is after the wisdom of God; but it has nothing of man's wisdom in it: it is contradictory to it all. This the wise man cannot bear to hear of; and he therefore pronounces it to be P 4