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- The word Jesus, every one knows, signifies Saviour. And therefore, when I say I believe in Jesus, I declare that I believe in him as my Saviour ; which nevertheless is impossible any further than I am both sensible of my want of salvation, in regard of those things wherein he is a Saviour, and also that in all those respects he is sufficient and suited to my purpose. To talk of believing in a Saviour, when I really find not a want of a Saviour, is to talk nonsense ; and to declare that I believe in Jesus as sufficient every way to save me, when, being unacquainted with those sure grounds upon which his saving power stands, I am not really satisfied that he is able to save me, is to assert a direct palpable falsehood. Consequently, whoever says truly I believe in Jesus, is as well acquainted with his being in a miserable, helpless, and undone state in himself, as that there is a fulness and sufficiency in Jesus to help him completely out of it. Without the former, namely, an acquaintance with our misery and helplessness, there is an absolute impossibility of believing in Jesus ; and it is only in proportion with our acquaintance with the latter, namely, his sufficiency, that we can exalt him in our hearts as the Saviour we profess him to be unto us. As to the grounds upon which the person here speaking is confirmed in the sufficiency of Jesus to save him, they will be considered afterwards ; here they are supposed to be known and believed, and not less the professor's sense of his misery and helplessness in himself. So that the words are the declaration of one, who, having found misery in himself, and help in one that is mighty to save, openly avows that Jesus is all his salvation. Now in this plain, reasonable, and, I conceive, incontestable state of the matter, it appears, that in the words before us are implied an acknowledgment of all that misery from which Jesus is said in the Scripture to be come to save us; and also that the whole hope and confidence of the soul are lying on him. And so of course to say,
I believe in Jesus, is as much as to declare,
First.-I believe in him as my Deliverer from the power of darkness and ignorance.
Secondly.-I believe in him as my Deliverer from the curse of the law, due unto me, and threatened against me for my sins.
Thirdly. I believe in him as my Deliverer from all my spiritual enemies.
Fourthly.--I believe in him as my great, final, and full Deliverer at his judgment-day. In all which points it will be necessary to observe, as we go along, both that there is a renunciation of ourselves, and also an acceptation of Jesus ; and at the same time to inquire how it stands with ourselves concerning it.
First.— I believe in him as my Deliverer from the power of darkness and ignorance. Man by nature is in a state of blindness and ignorance. All that he can see of spiritual things, without the light of the Word and Spirit, is but that confused traditionary knowledge that has been handed down from generation to generation, the effect of which is little other than selfcondemnation ; and even that knowledge I say traditionary, not acquired by the exercise of man's reason, but received by information from others, though indeed capable of being reasoned upon afterwards, and so of considerable improvement. Man, since the fall, is (without the help of foreign light) in a state of utter spiritual darkness ; a reasonable creature, but incapable of discerning spiritual things by any exercise of his unassisted reason ; nay, and when that foreign light is afforded him, he cannot be benefited, or understand the things that are declared by it, unless by a supernatural influence both his will be stirred up to seek into it, and his mind enlightened to receive it. This is the Scripture-account of the matter ; where we are said to be darkness, to be without God in the world, to be without hope, and the wisest of us, by all our wisdom, not to know God. Of this his natural estate of blindness and ignorance our professor is made duly sensible; as he is also that Jesus, by the light of the Word and Spirit, is the only one who can direct his steps. He ascribes it to Jesus that he was at first enlightened whilst he lay in his dark state of sin and ignorance, and was made to discern and see the sinfulness and misery of that condition, and the
way out of it prepared by the mercy of God, and executed by the Only-Begotten made fesh. And he is equally well advised, by self-experience, that, left to himself, he should instantly lose sight of all the glorious things belonging to his peace, which are now so evidently and delightfully before his eyes; and that it is the Lord therefore who hath made, and still makes, his darkness to be light.
Now here you see is a manifest renunciation of the suffi
ciency of human reason, both to discover to us any of the things of God, and more especially the way of peace in the most needed Redeemer. The true believer in Jesus has no high conceit of his own powers, as they now are in his fallen state. He cannot cry up human reason to make revelation needless; no, nor to sit as a judge upon the declarations of infinite wisdom, measuring them by the pretended rule of what is called natural religion, and rejecting what does not come within the reach of man's understanding. He gladly accepts the offered light ; is well content to take anything upon God's authority ; waits continually to be taught the will of God and
of salvation; and will trust neither to himself nor others for the truth of divine things, but only to Jesus, that great Prophet that should come into the world. But this, I fear, is not the common way.
Those were they, a long while ago, who disclaimed all teaching of the Spirit as mere pretence, or, as they were pleased to call it, cant and enthusiasm. Indeed pretensions thereto, without the word, are no better than enthusiasm. But if the Spirit, without the word, be delusion, the word, without the Spirit, to the unassisted mind in its natural and corrupted state, is dark, unprofitable, and unsanctifying. Nevertheless, reason has been thought sufficient of itself to fathom and unfold the deep things of God. And see what the rejection of the Spirit has come to; depraved reason, because not able to comprehend, has mangled and tortured the great doctrines of the Gospel; taken away the whole
of the word, and left it an unanimated and unanimating lump, a little better, and that is all, than the dry philosophy of the Heathen. The wise and the prudent, they that would be so without God's making, have very reasonably and justly had the distinguishing and quickening truths of the Gospel hid from them, while those very doctrines have, in the plainest manner, been revealed unto babes by the Spirit, opening their understandings that they might understand the Scriptures. But while man's wisdom, by disclaiming the illumination of the Spirit, at least in practice if not in express terms, has put down God's word, I mean as to the distinguishing and vital doctrine of it, the people have suffered irreparable damage; the power of godliness has died away, and even moral honesty and decency, being stripped of their main supports, have been forced to give ground to a general libertinism and licentiousness. I will not conceal the truth; the present dissoluteness of manners among us began in the exploding the operations of the Spirit ; so the Scriptures being a sealed book, because the key to them was thrown away, every man set his blind reason to interpret them ; mysteries were set apart or lowered to nothing; and the Gospel came forth not unlike a painted sun on a canvass, bearing some poor resemblance of the original, but absolutely without light or heat, But this is not all; our forefathers, in the pride of their reason, having refused the aid of the Spirit, and thereby missed of the whole spirituality of God's word, we of this age, their still wiser children, have too many of us proceeded further, and to the refusal of the Spirit boldly added a renunciation of the word also. Reason, it seems, cannot digest many things that are there ; some things in it are not to be comprehended, and how can we believe what we cannot comprehend ? Others are objectionable ; we do not see the reasonableness and consistency of them; others are contrary to our notions of things, neither can we reconcile it how God should determine and direct as he is sometimes there said to do. Every little pretender to knowledge and debate will have his fling at the Bible ; reason is set up in its place. Reason, that noble faculty, which, it seems, is capable of reaching through the universe; of sounding the very depths of God's government; can, as if brought up with him, nicely adjust the measure of all his counsels, determine the reason of all his doings, and exactly point out what is fit for him to expect from his creatures ; in short, do everything, except it be the one needful thing, find out a way how the poor guilty sinner shall be saved.
The contest, you see, is between reason and Jesus ; whether the fall has left our understandings darkened and insufficient to any spiritual discernment, and we need to be taught of Jesus, who is come, by his word and Spirit, to teach us all things which pertain unto life and godliness ; or whether we stand not in any need of this his teaching, having power sufficient in our unassisted reason to discern the way of life in the Scriptures without the Spirit, or to discover a scheme of religion for ourselves without the help of the one or the other. It is evident that they who set up reason against the Spirit or the word, cannot take Christ for their Teacher; neither can they say, with an honest conscience, I believe in Jesus, since one grand point of the salvation which he claims as his property to give us, and which we, when we say we believe in him, declare that we hold from him, is deliverance from darkness and ignorance concerning all the things of God. The point is of the very first importance. In fact, nothing can be right if we fail here. Reason must first yield, otherwise we dispute every step of Gospelsalvation ; we quarrel at the justice of God's sentence against us as sinners ; cannot be brought to think we are such helpless creatures as God tells us we are ; and at no rate can digest either his method of justifying us by the righteousness of another, or those other self-denying duties which the Gospel enjoins us. The pride of reason must bow, else the salvation of the Gospel will never take place. We must become fools if we will be wise ; and, in order that we may submit ourselves to Christ's teaching, we must put on the temper of little children, who, because they know nothing, are pliable to receive everything from their parents and teachers. And till we do this, or any further than we do it, coming wholly for instruction to Christ's word, and praying for his Spirit, let us not presume to say what contradicts our practice, I believe in Jesus. But,
Secondly. I believe in Jesus implies this also, “ I believe in him as my Deliverer from the curse of the law due to me, and threatened against me for my sins. I acknowledge myself a sinner, conceived in sin, the deadly body of which remains within me; I cannot do anything as I ought; as formerly, so now I am daily sinning in thought, word, and deed, insomuch that at no time, nor in any one instance, have I been able, or am I now able, to answer the high, but most holy and desirable, demands of the law. I cannot make any claim to life by my own doings; for I do not what the law requires of me. On that footing there is nothing before me but death, which God, I am satisfied, has in perfect righteousness and justice appointed to be the wages of sin ; neither have I the least remedy, help, or hope in myself. I cannot make the injured God satisfaction ; in no way can I do this. Not by better