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with its doctrines. They had “ tasted of the heavenly gift,” had some delight from contemplating the blessings offered through Jesus Christ, the unspeakable gift of God; they had been partakers of the Holy Ghost, in his common graces, and his extraordinary and miraculous gifts; they had “ tasted the good word of God,” had been pleased with the prospects it presents, with the offer of pardon, and deliverance from hell; they had tasted the powers of the world to come, had been charmed to think of the joys of heaven, and with satisfaction anticipated the possession of them.
I intended to have presented other scriptural representations and examples of temporary believers; but the limits of these exercises will not permit me, and I must hasten,
II. To compare together this temporary and justifying faith.
1. He that has only a temporary faith, may have as full and connected a view of the doctrines of religion as he who possesses saving faith. He may see the force of the arguments which prove the divinity of the scriptures ; he may illustrate the difficulties in the holy volume; he may defend its peculiar sentiments against heretics with greater ability and success than many an humble child of God; he may speak on these subjects with sincerity, for he is not a hypocrite when he asserts his full persuasion that the gospel is heavenly and divine ; he may be the instrument of convincing the sinner; of instructing, animating, and consoling the pious: but still there is a difference even in the mode in which he and the true believer receive those truths of which neither of them doubt. The child of God sees in them a glory, an excellence, and a loveliness, principally as the perfections of God and the excellences of Jesus shine in them. To this
true beauty revealed by the Spirit, and the ground of holy love and esteem, the temporary believer is a stranger. He can prove that God is holy, but he feels not as the saint or the angel feels that exclaims, “ Glorious in holiness;" and so with respect to other truths. In comparing together the truths of the gospel, these two classes of men are differently affected. True believers doubtless rejoice at the promise of deliverance from hell, and the enjoyment of celestial felicity ; but they have incomparably more joy at the promise of deliverance from sin, and the acquisition of perfect holiness : on the contrary, temporary believers principally rejoice in the prospect of deliverance from misery, and are comparatively little moved with the promise of spotless purity. The child of God, when thinking of the great salvation, is filled with gratitude and wonder; but is especially touched and affected with that ineffable love from which this salvation proceeded: while the blessings includ. ed in this salvation principally engage the temporary believer. It would be easy, in other respects, to point out a difference in the mode in which they regard divine truth.
2. They may be compared in respect to the duration of their faith. It is to saving faith alone, that perseverance is promised. I do not assert that all who have temporary faith, return to open vice; on the contrary, as I have already asserted, I am persuaded that many die in this faith, and find, alas ! too late, that they have deceived their own souls; nay, I doubt not that many who for a long time had only this counterfeit of piety, have been finally elevated by the grace of God to the exercise of true faith : but there is no principle of perseverance in temporary faith; no promise that it shall be maintained ; many have fallen from it; and that all do not fall, is owing not at all to its nature, nor to the engagements of God.
3. These two species of faith may be compared in their origin. Both indeed proceed from God; but the one proceeds from that common grace which, though it indeed confers some spiritual as well as temporal blessings, is enjoyed both by the wicked and the good; the other, from special grace, which is bestowed only on the heirs of glory: the one from the Holy Spirit acting as the Spirit of illumination; the other from him acting as the Spirit of adoption and regeneration.
4. They differ in the joys which they communicate. Oh! what an opposition between the true spiritual joy of Christians, and this delusive counterfeit of it. The one is sober, rational, substantial, collected; the other is the wild, airy, unauthorized dream of a madman, who supposes himself great and powerful. The one fills the heart with humility, and causes him who is animated by it to lie low before
the other inflates the heart, and causes the imaginary favourite of heaven to forget the station which he ought to hold before the Lord. The one is attended by candour, meekness, benevolence; the other deals the thunders of God with unsparing hand, and stigmatizes all who have not precisely the same raptures, and who do not entertain precisely the same sentiments as hypocrites, formalists, or impostors. The one is a torrent, impetuous, rapid, devastating, transient; the other is a mighty stream, steadily rolling its waves along, and instead of failing, growing deeper and wider till it empties itself into heaven, the region of joy. The one is the heat of a fever which impairs the constitution and endures but for a season; the other is our natural warmth,
tranquil, equable, and lasting. The one finds in this joy the proof of its justification ; the other derives its joy from scriptural evidences of justification.
5. I add but one more point of comparison. Justifying faith is always attended by real sanctifcation. Not only is the outward man reformed, but the love of sin is expelled from the heart, and a holy principle implanted there ; and it becomes the great object of the believer's life to live and die for Christ. The temporary believer may, like Herod, do many things gladly; may outwardly reform his conduct ; may have transient purposes and endeavours after a stricter piety; but still the heart itself is not purified; new habits of holiness are not there introduced. No wonder then, that he frequently grows weary in well doing, and returns again to the paths of sin.
Let this subject lead to self-examination. Are there none of those now living in open sin, who might have served as originals of the picture which we have drawn after the word of God? Remember
your engagements on your sick beds. Remember the vows and the external reformation which we observed with joy when God visited you with afflictions. Remem-ber the seasons when you apparently forsook the ways of sin, and spoke with gratitude and affection of the Saviour. Then so warm, fervid, engaged in the exercises of religion, you excited the hopes of the church and the expectations of the pious, that you would be their eternal companions. Why is it that
you have blasted these hopes ? that you have wrung the hearts of the pious, and caused them, instead of rejoicing at your felicity, to weep and tremble at your lamentable situation? Why is it that, , instead of advancing in holiness, you have receded into the path of sin? It is because you had no root;
because you were a stranger to renewing grace; because, notwithstanding all your splendid appearances, you never felt the power of true religion; be,
. cause you had only temporary faith. .
Professors of religion! deeply examine your souls: many have been as confident as you, who have declined from the right ways of the Lord: many appeared to shine as bright as you, who yet set in darkness. Search then your souls ; apply the tests given in the holy scriptures. In the day of judgment, many will be rejected as the utter enemies of the Lord, who were thought by themselves and others to be his friends. Zealous professor! see that your zeal be according to knowledge: strange fire, as well as that which descends from heaven, may burn upon the altar. Dull and slothful professors ! there is cause for you to fear; and the subject should rouse you and quicken you in the pursuit of holiness.
Open and daring sinner! whose whole life has been a course of rebellion against God, if the righteous scarcely be saved, and if even the temporary believer shall be destroyed, where wilt thou appear? What will be thy doom when, in the retrospect of thy life before the holy tribunal of God, there shall be found nothing but sin? Oh! in time be wise : seek grace from God to become, not merely a temporary, but a real believer; not only almost, but altogether a Christian.
And thou who, after prayerful, and conscientious, and minute scrutiny of thy heart and life, findest reason to believe that thou hast a true faith on the Son of God, fear not! notwithstanding thy weaknesses, and dangers, and enemies, thou shalt be preserved ; while the self-confident and those that have no root, shall be awfully disappointed: thou art feeble, but