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The connection between causes and effects are of two distinct kinds. That between physical causes and their effects is necessary and invariable. The cause acting in the same circumstances never fails to produce the same effect. So that the cause being given, the effect is sure to follow. There are other causes which have not the same necessary and invariable operation; when the cause being given, the event is yet uncertain. They have a tendency to produce a certain effect, but being applied to agents which have a freedom and power of their own, there must be a concurrence of this power and freedom to the actual production of the effect. The natural tendency of the cause is ever liable to be defeated by an opposition of that free and powerful agent to whom it is applied. These are styled moral causes; and act not by a compulsive power which forces the effect, but by an influence which inclines the moral agent to make it his own free act.

We are to inquire, to which of these clases that connection belongs, which hath been proved to subsist between faith and virtue ?

Some would persuade us, that faith produces good works necessarily and mechanically. They seem to think them really and actually inseparable from each other; and tell us that faith once having taken possession of the mind, good works flow from it as necessarily as light from the sun.


But this opinion is contradicted first of all by the nature of man, and the nature of virtue as it exists in man. For if good works are produced by a necessary operation of faith, then man becomes a mere natural agent, like the sun or the air, and the work is no longer a moral but a physical effect. Faith makes him good, as the circulation of the blood makes him healthy; and the poor man is relieved by his bounty, just as the earth is refreshed by a timely shower. But can we suppose that freedom was given us only for trivial uses, and for low concerns; and that we have a choice of every other object, except of virtue, which alone is worthy of our choice? Can we suppose that faith despoils us of the noblest gift of heaven, and degrades, instead of exalting our nature, by depriving us of that power which placed us at the head of this lower creation? This is contrary to our Lord's account of the design of his religion, who assures us that it was given to recover and enlarge our liberty, and not to take it away. *" Then said "Jesus to the Jews which believed on him, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my "disciples indeed; and ye shall know the "truth, and the truth shall make you free. If "the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free "indeed."

But 2dly-The slightest reflection on the nature and origin of faith will show us, that faith cannot have this compulsive power.

*John viii. 31-36.


Faith is a belief of the gospel, arising, as we have seen, on the evidence of the gospel. No sooner therefore is this evidence known and believed, than faith is fully established. Had faith then produced good works by a natural necessity, the gospel would have been completed in its evidence, and every addition of doctrine, precept, motive or example, would have been unnecessary. For faith itself being completely established on its evidence, and good works, as is here supposed, being the necessary effect of faith, it is plain that the whole business of the gospel was already accomplished. Any rule to direct the operation of faith, whilst that operation is supposed to be necessary, must appear absolutely superfluous; and a written system of laws for the conduct of believers must have been as useless and vain, as a system of written laws for the conduct of nature in the work of vegetation, in the movement of the planets, or in any other of her stated operations.

But the all-wise and benevolent author of the christian system seems plainly to have had very different conceptions of the power of faith. He did not think fit to rest in the establishment of faith alone, but added a rule of life; filled up, and finished that rule in all its parts for our guidance in every branch of duty; annexed the strongest sanctions to move us to an observance of this rule; and gave the brightest illustration of it in his own great example. From all which it is clear, that our

Saviour did not give to faith a power of producing good works necessarily and spontaneously, since in that case he would not have added the light of laws, the power of sanctions, the influence of example. This would have been adding a doubtful and precarious power for the production of an effect, which was already secured by the establishment of a necessary


This point will receive a strong illustration from the case of the first christians. In our age and country, and wherever the gospel is established and its doctrines freely taught, we can hardly find an instance of faith arising on the foundation of its evidence, where at least the principal laws of christianity are not known. The evidence and the duties of christianity are instilled together; nay, it often happens, that the duties are taught, and generally understood, where the evidence hath been very little attended to. It is not therefore so easy to observe amongst ourselves heir natural order and dependence on each other. But at the first preaching of christianity circumstances were widely different. The strongest evidences of our Saviour's divine mission were then frequently displayed, where his doctrines were little known. Every miracle had its converts; nothing being more common, in the history of our Lord, than after the account of a miracle to hear that many were thereby induced to believe on him. But such converts could not be instructed in the laws of christian

ity, though they had been eye-witnesses of its evidence. And such at first were the apostles themselves. For our Lord lived and died, rose again and gave full proof of his resurrection, and thereby completed the evidence of the gospel, before the laws of the gospel were fully revealed, even to the apostles themselves. Though these first disciples of christianity therefore might have the firmest faith in their Redeemer, yet this faith could not enable them in all respects to live up to the duties of christianity, since those duties were but imperfectly known.

The impulse of faith then cannot of itself be sufficient to produce good works, without a knowledge of those divine laws by which our works are to be formed. Faith of itself cannot give us a knowledge of the will of God, and therefore cannot enable us of itself to walk according to that will. Faith gives us the disposition to obey. The act of obedience must be regulated by the rule of obedience, which is the will of God. Faith is the principle of obedience, and not the rule.

3dly-The manner in which faith is connected with good works, is clearly pointed out to us in one short expression of St. Paul, which hath been already mentioned. "Faith which "worketh, or obtaineth its proper effect by "love," is the Apostle's expression. Faith, or a firm belief of our Redeemer's goodness, mercy, and unspeakable love to us, enkindles in us a fervent love for him, which love must

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