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when, he lays his hand on the higher and invisible links we know not. Yet here his influence would not be less effectual : and here it probably is that prayers frequently find their answer. Here it probably is, that the hand of Jehovah, unseen by mortal eye, oft times diverts the current of events into new channels, and originates new trains of causes, which whilst they confirm the faith and accomplish the prayers of believers, advance the purposes of heaven, and exhibit the whole machinery of the universe as sympathizing with the moral government of God.

ARTICLE VI.

CONCERNING NEW OBEDIENCE, (OR A CHRISTIAN Life.)

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They likewise teach, that this faith must bring forth good fruits; and that it is our duty to perform those good works' which God has commanded, because he has enjoined them, and not in the expectation of thereby meriting justification before him. For, remission of sins and justification are secured by faith; as the declaration of Christ himself implies: “when ye shall have done all those things, say, we are unprofitable servants.”

This article together with the XIIth and XXth, contain all that the Confessors deemed it necessary to say on the subject

of repentance and faith. In order if possible to give perspicuity to our discussion, we shall treat of these several subjects under the general head of,

1. The Changes wrought in the sinner by the Holy Spir

it through the means of Grace.

In commenting on this subject we shall have some reference to the terms usually employed by Lutheran divines in common with others, in the explanation of it.

1. The call, or vocation, is that invitation given to man by God, either mediately or immediately, to forsake his evil wa and accept the offers of mercy. The immediate call, is that which is given miraculously, of which the case of Paul is an example. The mediate, or ordinary call, is that invitation to reformation which God gives us through his word, the external circumstances of our situation, and the incidents of his Providence. This is the only call which men can now expect, it is given with equal sincerity to all who live in a gospel land, and brings salvation within the reach of them all, by tendering to them those means of grace which they have the ability to use with sincerity,' and the sincere use of which, the Holy Spirit will sooner or later make effectual to the conversion of the soul.

This view of the call, manifestly pre-supposes the acknowledged doctrines of the church, that man, if left to himself, neither would nor could turn to God; and that the means of grace, though wisely adapted to the end for which they were designed, are not able to convert the soul, without the additional influence of the Holy Spirit.

2. Illumination is that mediate act of God, by which, through the instrumentality of the means of grace, he imparts to the inquiring sinner correct and spiritual views of divine

1 See pp. 141. 142.

things. No one, who perseveringly and entirely disregards the call of God, ever becomes the subject of illumination. Because this disregard includes in it the refusal to use the means of grace prescribed in scripture, through which alone the Holy Spirit illuminates the mind. On the other hand, if the sinner give heed to the call of God, to attend to the things pertaining to his peace; that is, if he sincerely search the scriptures, inquiring

“ Lord what wilt thou have me to do” and earnestly striving to conform to the will of God; he will find his views of divine things remarkably changed. His ideas of the moral excellence, especially the holiness and benevolence of God, of the extent, spirituality and justice of the divine law, of the evil of sin in general, and of his own sinfulness in particular, will become vastly more clear, correct and practical. This state of the sinner's mind is also sometimes termed a state of illumination.

3. But this change of views, which is the first effect of divine illumination, will be accompanied by another and equally striking alteration in the state of his feelings. Viewed in this clearer and more spiritual light, the moral excellence of the divine character excites in the illuminated sinner, feelings of love and adoration; the law in all its extent and spirituality appears just, salutary and lovely; whilst the depth of his own depravity, the multitude and aggravation of his sins, and his liability to the just displeasure of God, excite in him new feelings of remorse, sorrow and fear. These two effects of divine illumination, are produced in a more or less gradual manner, and usually keep pace with each other. Sometimes both these effects are designated by the term conviction, whilst at others, this name is applied only to the changed views of the sinner, whilst his new feelings are denominated penitence, or repentance in its limited sense.

Conviction, in the popular sense of the term, may therefore be defined to be the new and spiritual views of the awakened

sinner, concerning his own sinfulness and exposure to the wrath of God, together with feelings of deep concern for his salvation.

4. Penitence, or Repentance in its more limited sense, signifies those feelings of sorrow and remorse, excited in the mind of an (awakened) illuminated sinner by a consideration of his sinfulness and danger.

These feelings are different in degree according to the natural temperament of the individual, or his degree of religious knowledge, or the degree of his actual guilt. When this sorrow arises merely from a consideration of our danger, our liability to the divine wrath, it is termed,

a) Legal repentance, and has nothing truly noble or hopeful in it. It is the same feeling which the impenitent robber often has when he anticipates the speedy execution of the penalty of the law upon him.

But when these feelings of remorse originate from a conviction of our sinfulness, of the turpitude of our conduct in sinning against so good a God, against our nearest and best friend, our constant benefactor; they are termed,

b) Evangelical repentance, and belong to the noblest and most hopeful exercises of the awakened mind. They imply a perception of the intrinsic odiousness of our sins, of the beauty of holiness, of the justice of our condemnation, of the spirituality and excellence of the divine law, and a preparation of heart to understand and appreciate the plan of salvation generally.

5. Faith. Justifying faith is that voluntary act of the illuminated and evangelically penitent sinner, by which he confides in the mercy of God through Christ for salvation, on the terms offered in the gospel.1

1 The term faith has also several other significations in the sacred volume. a) It designates the christian doctrines themselves (objectively), as in the passage “Earnestly contend for the faith” &c. b) It signifies mere historical belief of the scriptures &c. thus “ the devils believe and tremble.” This historical faith must precede repentance,

a) It is a voluntary act, and therefore we find it commanded as a duty.

b) It can be properly performed only by the illuminated and truly penitent; because the blind and unrepenting sinner neither sees his necessity of a Saviour, nor feels a willingness to conform his heart and life to the requisitions of the gospel. His faith, if he have any, is merely a historical belief of conclusive evidence, such as may be possessed by immoral men, and even by the devils themselves. The repentance requisite must, moreover, be of the evangelical kind. His heart must be deeply affected by the moral excellence of the divine character and his own sinfulness, and thus it is that “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness."

c) Its exact nature is that of confidence, trust or reliance on God, and is similar to the confidence of a child in an affectionate parent, of one friend in the known character of another. It includes 1) a knowledge or belief of the character of God, and especially of the Saviour as deserving of our confidence; 2) feelings of approbation and delight in this character, especially as developed in the gospel plan of salvation, and 3) a volition to accept the offers of mercy on the terms proposed, that is, to act in accordance with this belief and feeling.

d) Saving faith is accompanied by good works, 2 by a life of holiness. No man can be sincere in his professed reliance on the Saviour, who crucifies him afresh by voluntary sins.

e) “Faith is the gift of God;" because it is he who calls, enlightens, and convicts us, and enables us to repent of our

and has nothing in it, implying a spiritual change; but it is obvious from the above definition, that a living or saving faith can only succeed it.

1 "Repent ye and believe the gospel (the glad tidings of a Saviour) Mark 1: 15. This is his commandment, that ye believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 3: 23. 2 James 2: 20—23.

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