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They were pleased with the terms, and laid hold on Christ. At this stage of the believer's experience, he begins to find rest, in a greater or less degree. Deliverance, thus begun, is a pledge of full freedom. Nor is this all; the believer now experiences, that salvation from the dominion of sin is begun. The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, makes him free from the law of sin and death. However great the diversity in different persons, every one in whom salvation is begun has some experience of this kind. And if there is deliverance from the power, there will be also from the pollution of sin; or there could be no confidence in approaching the throne of grace. Nor should we here forget to notice the experience of the freedom of Christ's subjects. The believer finds freedom in the service of God; it becomes easy, and, as it were, natural to him. He finds a refreshment in obedience; a beginning of that satisfaction with God's likeness, which is to be completed in heaven. He finds a beginning of heaven in his soul. All believers, in a greater or less degree, experience Christ as the hope of glory in their hearts. That these experiences are not oftener clearly discovered and comfortably enjoyed, must be attributed to the
unfaithfulness of believers. But whether the experience be more or less clear and satisfactory, if it exist at all, it is the beginning of eternal salvation.
We know that the believer does experience such things, from the testimony of the word of God. The affrighted jailer soon found rest and joy. The distressed inquirers on the day of Pentecost soon began to “eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people." We know this too from the testimony of believers in every age, even in our own. And though they should hold their peace in this matter, we could see the evidence with our eyes. We could often see the wicked suddenly stopped in their career of wickedness; we might see them filled with alarm for their souls, and then turning from sin, serving God, and enjoying sweet peace of conscience.
IMPROVEMENT OF THE SUBJECT.
SECTION I. Several sorts of unbelievers described.—That the reader may be induced to inquire carefully whether or not he is among any of the several sorts of unbelievers, let him bear in mind that faith and the preaching of the word are blessings unspeakably great, inasmuch as they are necessary in the plan of salvation; that the condition of the believer is unspeakably happy; and that assurance of eternal salvation is attainable.
66 Be lieve on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalı be saved." Proper care and honesty with
own hearts would surely enable us to know whether we believe or not; whether or not we have right views and feelings in reference to Christ and his salvation. We may infer, moreover, from what was offered in the foregoing chapter, that perseverance in faith is not the condition of salvation, or foundation of our title to it. He who believes shall be saved. It is not, believe and you shall be saved, if you persevere; but, believe and you shall be saved. And as belief is salvation, so
is unbelief destruction. It is self-murder of the worst kind, of the soul. For a man to disbelieve is, like the Pharisees, to reject the counsel of God against himself.
Consider then, reader, the momentous' importance of the subject; for upon it your everlasting destiny depends. Consider whether you have faith ; "for all men have not faith," and without it, it is impossible to please God. Indeed, our Saviour declared that there were few saved. Consider that very many have been awfully deceived, and that you are in danger of being deceived, as well as others. The Laodiceans thought they had need of nothing, while they were poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” The ten virgins all supposed themselves wise, but five of them proved to be foolish. Consider that deception is attended with consequences awful beyond conception. Consider that it is for your own interest to make an impartial trial of yourself. Deception cannot last forever; death, if nothing else, will show us
are prepared for. We may trųst to cunningly devised fables in life, but in
death there will be no fables. Let the word of God prevail with you.
- Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves; know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?"
First. All who are grossly ignorant of divine truth are to be classed among unbelievers. Believing implies a knowledge of the thing believed. We must have 66 an heart to know the Lord.” And we must know our need of Christ. • The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” Those who do not know that they are diseased, will not inquire for the physician. Indeed, faith is expressed by knowledge. It is a “translation out of darkness, into God's marvellous light.” It is a coming to the “knowledge of the truth." Ignorance, then, is no excuse for disobedience.
Second. All the openly profane, those who live in the practice of notorious sins, are undoubtedly to be classed among unbelievers. Those who lie, swear, and steal, sometimes call themselves believers.
“ They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." - Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well :