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They who never considered the power and value of faith toward salvation, may learn how great it is from the history of Rahab's deliverance. When we are told, that Abraham was justified by faith, we do not wonder : we can believe any good of our father Abraham. But that it should avail to the saving of Rahab is extraordinary, and never to be accounted for by the man of the world. The just live by faith; that is, they are not saved for their justice, but for their faith: and if the best are not accepted without faith, the worst may not be condemned if they have it. But why is faith preferred in this manner above all things? I will tell you some of the reasons. Faith in God is a cure, because it is contrary to man's native distemper. Man began to sin with believing a lie: and he believed it when told by an enemy; by the enemy of God; as he is still disposed to do at this day; with what propriety of justice then can God receive the man, who refuses to believe him upon his word ? Faith in the Enemy brought him to ruin, and keeps him in it: nothing can restore him, but its contrary; which is faith in God.
Another reason is, that the way of faith is contrary to the way of man's own wisdom; and is therefore the hardest trial that he can be put to. It is after the wisdom of God: but it has nothing of man's wisdom in it: it is contradictory to it all. This the wise man cannot bear to hear of; and he therefore pronounces it to be folly. There are in the world two contrary descriptions or characters of men: the one has faith, the other has none: and they are so different in their conception of things, that each is considered as unwise by the other. The man of the world makes it a rule to believe nothing but what he sees: but the
faith of the believer is a sight of the mind, which gives evidence of things not seen. There is no doetrine upon earth which mortifies the pride of man, like this of salvation by faith ; it is therefore appointed as the great test by which man is proved. He cannot endure the thought, that his wisdom should be foolishness, and that his ostentatious virtues should be good for nothing. But he who cannot bear this mortification, he who will not freely make an offer of his mind to God, is not fit for the kingdom of heaven. He persists in that rebellious desire of the mind, which first drew him away from God: and to shew him his mistake, God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty. How is the worldly-wise offended, when the Gospel tells him of a malefactor, translated from a cross to paradise! What rage will torment him, when he shall see the harlot Rahab admitted, and himself shut out! But such are the ways of God: he exalteth the weak, and putteth down the mighty. Men may glory for a while in the appearance of their greatness : but their high walls will come to the ground. They may despise Rahab; but the best and the greatest of them all must submit to be saved, upon the same terms with that repentant and believing sinner of Jericho. They may talk to one another in high strains about virtue, and right, and degrees of credibility : but God regards them not: his salvation is bestowed upon the poor penitent, who believes that Jericho will soon fall; that destruction is coming upon the world of the ungodly; that the JUDGE standeth at the door; and who makes provision accordingly; securing an interest against the day of vengeance, They who would not be found, but persecuted the
messengers of God (as unbelievers never fail to do) shall be involved in all the horror and confusion of a falling world : while they that have made their peace like Rahab, shall be sought out and delivered. God shall send his angels, to gather together his elect; who have made a covenant with him, through the sacrifice of Christ; and can produce the scarlet token of his , blood, which marks them for the redeemed of the Lord : and they shall be advanced to a place in the kingdom of God, as Rahab was joined to Israel, and her name now stands, as that of a mother in 13raėl, in the line of those from whom the Saviour of the world descended. *
I have presented to your minds an history, the sense of which is so important to a Christian, that you cannot remember and apply it too often. When you are alone, think that you have before your eyes that proud city of unbelievers, filled with the enemies of God : think that you hear the noise of its downfall, added to the shrieks and exclamations of those that are found within it; and that you see a cloud of dust rising up into the air !
Such will be the ruin of this world; and such will be the terror of those, on whom destruction (unavoids able destruction) cometh, You did not see and hear the fall of Jericho : if you had, you would never have forgotten it: but the other judgment upon the world, the fulfilling of it, the substance of which that was but a shadow; you shall see: that sight you cannot escape: therefore prepare for it in time: take part with God and his truth, while you may even at the hazard of your life--while the day of salvation lasts : when the city shall fall, you will then have nothing to fear.
* See St. Matthew, i. 7.
You will indeed see yourself surrounded with destruction with the destruction of many whom it would have rejoiced you to have saved : but it shall not touch you : ye shall be as a firebrand plucked out of the burning-angels shall be sent to take you out of the overthrow : ye will be saved as Rahab was; and by faith, will not perish with them that believe not,
THEN SAID JESUS UNTO HIM, GO AND DO THOU
LIKEWISE, LUKE X. 37,
THE parable, of which these words are the principal part, is proposed as an inducement to the exercise of mercy toward all mankind : the charitable act of this good Samaritan is described with all its circumstances, and then the practical inference is added go and do thou likewise. The man must have a hard heart and a mean understanding, who is insensible to the beauty of this story: it being a striking instance of that simplicity of expression, and propriety of descripti n, for both of which the Gospel is so superior to all other writinys. But the story hath certainly a more deep design, than such a narrative might be supposed to have, if it had occurred in some other book : and this I think must be evident upon the following consideration. The precept-go and do thou likewise, is of general obligation. What our Saviour here said to the Jews, he said to all his disciples and followers to the end of the world. And if they are all bound to the practice of this precept, it is but natural to think, that they should all be interested in the circumstances