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persuaded by another. This state of mind, however, includes both a conciction of the truth of the assertion made by the other person, and a compliunce with the design for which the assertion has been made. If either of these be wanting, it is evident that the mind is not persuaded; and that there is, in fact, no faith. When one reveals to another that of which he was previously ignorant, with the declared design of inducing him to acquiesce in its purposes, his conviction will be in proportion to his estimation of the credibility of the witness, and his compliance, to the desirableness of the end proposed. The discovery which the witness makes is his testimony; and faith is the admission of that testimony as valid, to the very end for which it is given.
These remarks illustrate the nature of that faith which the Bereans exercised. The apostles made known to them, in their preaching, the testimony of God concerning Jesus Christ; a testimony revealed for the express purpose of persuading lost and perishing sinners to embrace the salvation which he had purchased with his own blood. The Bereans were convinced of the truth of the testimony, and complied with its declared purpose. They assented to the doctrine contained in the testimony, and accepted of the salvation which it offered".
Such is the faith that God requires in his word, without which “ it is impossible to “ please him.” From its very nature, it must precede all the Christian graces; for, so long as unbelief or a rejection of God's testimony concerning Christ prevails in a person, so long he cannot exercise repentance towards God, or cherish that love to him which is his due. It is faith that worketh by love, that purifies the heart, and overcometh the world. As a principle it is implanted in the moment of regeneration, and displays itself by continual exercises during the whole of a Christian's life, as the varieties of his state require.
2. This faith is originated by the Holy Spirit applying to the hearts and consciences of men the testimony of God con-, cerning the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone can enlighten the eyes of our understand
h See an Essay on Faith, in the Chri- tian's Magazine, vol. 1. p. 244, 245.
i Heb. xi. 6.
ing, that we may know what is the hope of God's calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saintsk. He must shine in our hearts, “ to give the light “ of the knowledge of the glory of God, in oć the face of Jesus Christ?.” Until his
powerful operations are experienced by us, we find that the testimony of God concerning Christ is like “ the words of a book that is
sealed, which men deliver to one that is “ learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; " and he saith, I cannot: for it is sealed : and " the book is delivered to him that is not “ learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee : « and he saith, I am not learned".” The necessity of the illuminating and sanctifying operations of the Holy Spirit is revealed to us in the Scriptures with the utmost plainness, so that he who runs may read and understand.
The means which He uses to produce faith in the testimony of God concerning Christ, is the testimony itself ; not the dispensations of his providence, or the demands of his own most perfect law. The former may e cite serious reflections, and the latter acts as a school-master to lead sinners to Christ; yet k Eph. i. 18.
m Isaiah xxix. 11, 12.
1 2 Cor. iv. 6.
it is the exhibition of Christ himself, in his grace and glory, as the Redeemer of sinful men, by which sinners are begotten unto God.
As this exhibition is found in the Scriptures alone, so the Holy Spirit originates faith in those, and those only, who enjoy the Scriptures. They have the best right to expect a blessing, who search them with that care and diligence which their importance demands from intelligent and sinful creatures.
3. The effects of this faith, thus wrought in the Bereans by the Holy Ghost, were conspicuous in their conversation and conduct. Being introduced into a new world, and viewing every thing through a new medium, they thought, felt, and acted as new creatures. In one particular, this appeared pre-eminently striking. They, who heretofore had despised the Gentiles, and, no doubt, before they heard the apostles, with the rest of their countrymen, clamoured against the offer of salvation to them, now received them as brethren. The distinction of Jew and Gentile was lost in the new relation which they sustained to each other as believers. They recognized each other as children of God, and heirs of the heavenly inheritance.
Being“ justified by faith, they have
peace “ with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ;
by whom also they had access by faith “ into this grace wherein they stood, and “ rejoiced in hope of the glory of God"." They now also gloried in tribulations:
knowing that tribulation worketh patience; ~ and patience, experience; and experi
ence, hope; and hope maketh not asham« ed : because the love of God was shed " abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost “ which was given unto them.” They “ followed peace with all men, and holiness, 66 without which no man shall see the Lord." “ Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,” they “ lived soberly, righteously, and god
ly, in this present world ; looking for that “ blessed hope, and the glorious appearing “ of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus 66 Christ'.”
Such were the all-important consequences which sprung
from the faith of the Bereans. Who does not discern in their conduct the wisdom of the just? Whilst, in the conduct of the Thessalonians is displayed the fearful infatuation of fools!
o Rom. v.3-5,
p Heb. xii. 14.
n Rom, v. 1, 2.