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sincerity of their profession, not only to the world, but to their own consciences; as is evident by the instance he gives of Abraham, James ij. 21....24. And in verse 20, and 26, he speaks of the practical and working nature of faith, as the very life and soul of it ; in the same manner that the active nature and substance, which is in the body of a man, is the life and soul of that. And if so, doubtless practice is the proper evidence of the life and soul of true faith, by which it is distinguished from a dead faith. For doubtless, practice is the most proper evidence of a practical nature, and operation the most proper evidence of an operative nature.
Practice is the best evidence of a saving belief of the truth. That is spoken of as the proper evidence of the truth's being in a professing Christian, that he walks in the truth, 3 John 3. “I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth."
Practice is the most proper evidence of a true coming to Christ, and accepting of, and closing with him. A true and saving coming to Christ, is (as Christ often teaches) a coming so as to forsake all for him. And, as was observed before, to forsake all for Christ in heart, is the same thing as to have a heart actually to forsake all ; but the proper evidence of having a heart actually to forsake all, is, indeed, actually to forsake all so far as called to it. If a prince make suit to a woman in a far country, that she would forsake her own people, and father's house, and come to him to be his bride ; the proper evidence of the compliance of her heart with the king's suit, is her actually forsaking her own people and father's house, and coming to him.... By this her compliance with the king's suit is made perfect, in the same sense that the Apostle James says, By works is faith made perfect.* Christ promises us eter
* "Our real taking of Christ appears in our actions and works, Isa. i. 19. If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good things of the land. That is, if ye will consent to take JEHOVAH for your Lord and King : If ye give consent, there is the first thing ; but that is not enough, but if ye also obey. The consent that standeth in the inward act of the mind, the truth of it will be
nal life, on condition of our coming to him : But it is such a coming as he directed the young man to, who came to inquire what he should do that he might have eternal life ; Christ bade him go and sell all that he had, and come to him, and follow him. If he had consented in his heart to the proposal, and had therein come to Christ in his heart, the proper evidence of it would have been his doing of it ; and therein his coming to Christ would bave been made perfect. When Christ called Levi the publican, when sitting at the receipt of custom, and in the midst of his worldly gains; the closing of Levi's heart with this invitation of his Saviour to come to him, was manifested, and made perfect by his actually rising up, leaving all, and following him, Luke v.27,28. Christ, and other things, are set before us together, for us practically to cleave to one, and forsake the other : In such a case, a practical cleaving to Christ is a practical acceptance of Christ; as much as a beggar's reaching out his hand and taking a gift that is offered, is his practical acceptance of the gift. Yea, that act of the soul that is in cleaving to Christ in practice is itself the most perfect coming of the soul to Christ.
Practice is the most proper evidence of trusting in Christ for salvation. The proper signification of the word trust, according to the more ordinary use of it, both in common speech and in the holy scriptures, is the emboldening and encouragement of a person's mind, to run some venture in practice, or in something that he does on the credit of another's sufficiency and faithfulness. And, therefore, the proper evidence of his trusting, is the venture he runs in what he does. He is not properly said to run any venture, in a dependence on any thing, that does nothing on that dependence, or whose practice is no otherwise than if he had no dependence. For a man to run a venture on a dependence on another, is for him to do something from that dependence by which he seems to expose himself, and which he would
seen in your obedience, in the acts of your lives. If ye consent and obey, ye shall eat the good things of the land ; that is, you shall take of all that be hath that is convenient for you ; for then you are married to him in truth, md have an interest in all his goods.” Dr. Preston's Church's Carriage.
not do, were it not for that dependence. And, therefore, it is in complying with the difficulties, and seeming dangers of Christian practice, in a dependence on Christ's sufficiency and faithfulness to bestow eternal life, that persons are said to venture themselves upon Christ, and trust in him for happiness and life. They depend on such promises, as that, Matth. X. 39. “ He that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." And so they part with all, and venture their all, in a dependence on Christ's sufficiency and truth. And this is the scriptore notion of trusting in Christ, in the exercise of a saving faith in him. Thus Abraham, the father of believers, trusted in Christ, and by faith forsook his own country, in a reliance on the covenant of grace God established with him, Heb. xi. 8, 9. Thus, also “ Moses, by faith refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,” Heb. xi. 23, &c. So by faith, others exposed themselves to be stoned and sawn asunder, or slain with the sword ; “ endured the trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, bonds and imprisonments, and wandered about in sheep skins, and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” And in this sense the Apostle Paul, by faith trusted in Christ, and committed himself to him, venturing himself, and his whole interest, in a dependence on the abil. ity and faithfulness of his Redeemer, under great persecutions, and in suffering the loss of all things, 2 Tim. i. 12, « for the which cause I also suffer these things ; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."
If a man should have word brought him from the king of a distant island, that he intended to make him his heir, if, upon receiving the tidings, he immediately leaves his native land and friends, and all that he has in the world, to go to that country, in a dependence on what he hears, then he
may said to venture himself, and all that he has in the world up. on it. But, if he only sits still, and hopes for the promised benefit, inwardly pleasing himself with the thoughts of it ;
he cannot properly be said to venture himself upon it; he runs no venture in the case ; he does nothing, otherwise than he would do, if he had received no such tidings, by which he would be exposed to any suffering in case all should fail. So he that, on the credit of what he hears of a future world, and, in a dependence on the report of the gospel, concerning life and immortality, forsakes all, or does so at least, so far as there is occasion, making every thing entirely give place to his eternal interest ; he, and he only, may properly be said to venture himself on the report of the gospel. And this is the proper evidence of a true trust in Christ for salvation.
Practice is the proper evidence of a gracious love, both to God and men. The texts that plainly teach this, have been so often mentioned already, that it is needless to repeat them.
Practice is the proper evidence of humility. That expression, and manifestation of humility of heart, which God speaks, of, as the great expression of it, that he insists on ; that we should look upon as the proper expression and mari. festation of it : But this is walking humbly. Micah vi. 8. “ He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
This is also the proper evidence of the true fear of God, Prov. viii. 13. “ The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, Psal. xxxiv. 11, &c. Come, ye children, hearken unto me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile : Depart from evil, and do good ; seek peace and pursue it. Prov. iii. 7. Fear the Lord, and depart from evil, Prov. xvi. 6. By the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil. Job i. 8. Hast thou considered my servant Job...a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil ? Chap. ii. 3. Hast thou considered my servant Job....a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him. Psal. xxxvi. 1. The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, There is no fear of God before his eyes."
So practice, in rendering again according to benefits received, is the proper evidence of true thankfulness. Psal. cxvi. 12. « What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me? 2 Chron. xxxii. 25. But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him." Paying our vows unto God, and ordering our conversation aright, seem to be spoken of as the proper expression and evidence of true thankfulness, in the 50th Psalm, verse 14. 4 Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High. Verse 28. Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me: And to him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I shew the salvation of God."
So the proper evidence of gracious desires and longings, and that which distinguishes them from those that are false and vain, is, that they are not idle wishes and wouldings like Balaani's ; but effectual in practice, to stir up persons earnestly and thoroughly to seek the things they long for. Psalm xxvii. 4. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after." Psal. Ixiii. 1, 2. 56 O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh Jongeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, to see thy power and thy glory. Versc 8. My soul followeth hard after thèe. Cant. i. 4. Draw me, we will run after khoe.”
Practice is the proper evidence of a gracious hope. 1 John iii. 3. Every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure.” Patient continuance in well doing, through the difficulties and trials of the Christian course, is often mentioned as the proper expression and fruit of a Christian hope, 1 Thess. i. 3. “ Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope. 1 Pet. 1, 13, 14. Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children, &c. Psal. cxix. 166. Lord, I have hoped in thy salvation, and done thy .commandments. Psal. lxxviii. 7. That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of the Lord, but keep his commandments.” VOL. IV.