A Letter on the Duty and Privilege of a Believer, to Live by Faith, and to Improve his Faith, unto Holiness.
To the Society at the Tabernacle, in London, a Friend and Servant of theirs, wisheth Grace and Peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
My dear and honour’d Brethren,
I rejoice to hear, that some of your dear Souls, begin to taste the ineffable Sweetness of a Life of Faith on the Son of God, even when you have not the Delights of spiritual Sense. That, my dear Brethren, is most properly  a Life of Faith, which is not founded on spiritual Sense. That Persuasion of Interest in Christ and all his Fulness, which is not built upon gracious Frames and inward Feelings; but upon the Promises and Declarations of Grace made to Believers in the book of God, upon the Word and Oath of a God that cannot lie; is Faith indeed, or that which by Way of Eminence, may be styl’d Faith. Permit me then, my dear Brethren, to give you a Hint,
I. That it is the Duty and Privilege of a Believer, to live by Faith. And,
II. To improve his Faith unto Holiness.
First, That it is the Duty and Privilege of a Believer to Live by Faith, is evident; in that this is God’s Commandment, that we should believe on the Name of his Son Jesus Christ, I Joh. iii. 23. That we should believe his infinite All-sufficiency, his Ability and Willingness to save; his being call’d of God to this Work, to save Sinners to the uttermost; and his infinite Faithfulness to God that appointed him, and to his own Promise, to give Rest, present and eternal Rest, eternal Life and Salvation, to every weary, heavy-laden Soul, that believes on him, or comes unto him at his Call, Matt. xi. 28. It is our Duty, not only to believe on the Son of God, or to come to him as poor perishing Sinners in ourselves, for eternal Life; but also to be persuaded, that believing, we have Life thro’ his Name, or eternal Life in him, according to his,  and his Father’s Promise. And to hold fast this our Confidence, notwithstanding all our Vileness and Unworthiness. We ought to believe, that we have eternal Life in Christ, in the Right of it, by the full, free and irreversible Grant of a GOD that cannot lie; amidst all the Variations of our own Frames: And that we shall have the complete Enjoyment of it thro’ Christ, even when we see or feel but little of its glorious Beginnings in ourselves. That having believed on Christ for it, we have it in him, and shall enjoy it thro’ him. And to doubt it, because of our own Sinfulness and Unworthiness; casts a very great Dishonour upon the infinite Grace and Faithfulness of GOD. For, He that believeth not God, hath made him a Liar, because he believeth not the Record that God gave of his Son. And this is theRecord, that God hath given to us eternal Life: And this Life is in his Son, I John v. 10, 11. Oh the horrid Nature of Unbelief, of this easily besetting Sin! How often doth it, and we thereby, given the Lye to a GOD of infinite Faithfulness! He that hath the Son, saith the Apostle, hath Life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not Life. These Things have I written unto you that believe on the Son of God; that ye may know ye have eternal Life, and that ye may believe on the Name of the Son of God, Ver. 12, 13. The Apostle’s Scope in these Verses, is, 1. To shew that Difference of State, which is between a Believer,  and an Unbeliever. A Believer hath the Son; an Unbeliever hath not the Son. A Believer hath Life in the Son; an Unbeliever, not having the Son, hath not life. And 2. To excite Believers to their Duty, of believing their Interest in Christ, and their Right to eternal Life in him. These Things have I written unto you that believe on the Son of God, that ye may know (or have a full Assurance) that ye have eternal Life, and that ye may believe on the Son of God. Or hold fast this your Confidence, amidst a thousand Discouragements, from within and without. – Thus it appears to be the Duty of a Believer to live by Faith, or steadily to believe his Interest in Christ, his Right to eternal Life, and that he shall have the full Enjoyment of it thro’ him; even when he hath not spiritual Sense, or a joyful Feeling of the Increase of spiritual Life in himself. And as it is his Duty; so his Privilege. For, while a Believer lives by Faith, and so far as he is in the Exercise thereof, his Soul hath Rest, and is fill’d with Peace and Joy. Thus, Heb. iv. 3. For we that have believed, do enter into Rest. And I Pet. i. 8, 9. Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, tho’ now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with Joy unspeakable, and full of Glory. Receiving (by a full Persuasion in yourselves, from the Witness of God in his Word) the End of your Faith, the Salvation of your Souls. Oh the Rest, the Peace and Joy, that Fill the Soul is the  Exercise of Faith! Unbelief, my dear Brethren, so far as we yield to it for want of Sight; not only dishonours GOD, but straightway brings us into Darkness, Weakness, and Bondage. But Faith, pure Faith, on Things not seen, gives Light in Darkness, Strength in Weakness, and Liberty in Confinement.
To beget all spiritual Faith, there must be a spiritual Evidence given. The Object of Faith, must be presented to the Eye of Faith, in such a Manner as is suited to draw out the Act of Faith, to receive its Object: Either, 1. Singly and purely, according to its own Nature, which is to credit Things not seen. Or, 2. In a mix’d Way, as the same Things are clothed with sensible Effects, perceptible to Sight.
We have both these exemplify’d in the Resurrection of Christ, and in his Appearance to his Disciples. In the Word which our Lord gave to them before his Death, that the Son of Man must be kill’d, and after three Days be raised again from the Dead, Mat. xvi. 21. In the same Word which his Angel put the Women in Mind of that sought him at the Sepulchre, and at our Lord’s Command hid them, go tell his Disciples, that he was risen, went before them into Galilee, and that there they should see him as he said unto them, Mar. xvi. 5, &c. And in the same Message, which Jesus himself sent the Women with to his Brethren, Matt. xxviii.10. – Which was Evidence sufficient for them to have believed  his Resurrection upon. Whence, as they did not; our Lord upbraided them with their Unbelief and Hardness of Heart, Mark xvi. 14. Luke xxiv. 25. – They wanted Sense to help their Faith. To see a risen Jesus, before they believ’d his Resurrection. Our Lord indulg’d them; He appear’d to them, and shew’d them his Hands and his Side, John xx. 19, 20. But Thomas was not with them when Jesus came. And when the other Disciples told him they had seen the Lord; he resolutely said in Unbelief, Except I shall see in his Hands the Print of the Nails, and put my Finger into the Print of the Nails, and thrust my Hand into his Side, I will not believe, Ver. 24, 25. Jesus therefore, when he appear’d again to his Disciples, Thomas being with them; as soon as he had saluted them all with Peace be unto you: He instantly, in boundless Compassion and infinite Condescension, thus address’d his unbelieving Thomas: Reach hither thy Finger, and behold my Hands; and reach hither thy Hand, and thrust it into my Side; and be not Faithless, but believing. Upon which, Thomas in the Language of Faith cry’d out, My Lord, and my God. A Flood of joyful Sense, being let in upon his Soul; it set Faithupon the Flow: Out it went unto its Object, claim’d its Interest: My Lord, and my God! Then said Jesus to his believing Thomas, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believ’d;  Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed, Ver. 26, &c.
Our Lord here, states the Difference, between believing without, and upon Sight, and pronounceth a peculiar Blessedness upon the latter, or declares those to be eminently blessed, who had believed, and had not seen. – By which perhaps our Lord might respect the Faith of those Women, who believed his Resurrection upon the Credit of his own Wordgiven them before his Death, which they remembred when put in Mind of it by the Angels at the Sepulchre, who declar’d to them that he was risen, as he said unto them, Luke xxiv. 6, 7, 8. Upon which they return’d to bring his Disciples Word. And that they believed his Resurrection, is evident, in that they departed quickly from the Sepulchre, with Fear, (or Reverence) of this wondrous Work of God) and great Joy, Matt. xxviii. 8. Their great Joy, sprang from that full Persuasion which they had upon the Credit of the Lord’s Word, that he was risen. They remembred his Word, when put in Mind of it by the Angels, and believ’d the Fulfilment thereof, which they acquainted them with. And hence with great Joy, they ran to tell his Disciples; even before they had seen Jesus himself. For, As they went, Jesus met them, saying, All Hail. And they came and held him by the Feet, and worship’d him: Then said Jesus unto them,  Be not afraid: Go tell my Brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me, Ver. 9, 10. – But when they told his Disciples all these Things, (what Jesus had said to them about his Resurrection before his Death; what the Angels had told them as to the Fulfilment thereof; and that Jesus himself had sent them to acquaint them herewith, and that they should shortly see him) their Words seemed to them as idle Tales, and they believed them not, Luk. xxiv. 11. – Thus the Disciples would see Jesus, before they believed his Resurrection. And when he appear’d unto them, said, Peace be unto you: And shew’d them his Hands and his Side: Then were the Disciples glad when they saw the Lord, John xx. 19, 20. When these Disciples sawtheir risen Lord, their Faith in his Resurrection according to this Word, sprang: As did the Faith of poor Thomas, when the Lord appear’d unto him. – But the Women, believed his Resurrection according to his Word, before they had seen the risen SAVIOUR. The one believ’d without, the other upon Sight. – And unto this our Lord might have Respect, when he said to Thomas, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. As well as to the Faith of the Old Testament Saints, who saw the Promises afar off, were persuaded of them and embraced them; and died in the Faith of them, altho’ they had not receiv’d the Fulfilment of  them, or seen the Truth of God’s Word, clothed with visible Effects.
And there is, as hath been hinted, a peculiar Blessedness in believing without Sight. In that, 1. It gives more Gloryunto God, for the Soul to credit his naked Word, before it sees it array’d in answerable Effects. To believe what God hath said, merely because HE hath spoken it, and thence to expect the Performance thereof, in the Face of a thousand Difficulties; brings much Glory to God. And 2. To believe without Sight, gives Rest and Joy to the Soul, in a stable Promise, an All-producing Word, before the blessed Effects of it, spring to the Joy of Sense; and frees the Soul from that Perplexity, which otherwise fills the Mind, between the giving and fulfilling of a Promise, when there are Deaths pass over it. Thus of Abraham it is said, And being not weak in Faith, he consider’d not his own Body now dead, when he was about an hundred Years old, nor yet the Deadness of Sarah’s Womb. He staggered not at the Promise of God thro’ Unbelief; but was strong in Faith, giving Glory to God. And being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform, Rom. iv. 19, 20, 21. And, We that have believ’d, saith the Apostle, do enter into Rest, Heb. iv. 3. Into the present Rest of Faith, in Assurance of future Glory; before we enter into the Rest of Vision, in the Enjoyment thereof. 
This then, my dear Brethren, shews us the Excellency of a Life of pure Faith, of believing without Sight, when we have no gracious Frames and inward Feelings, or the Prop of spiritual Sense to assist our Faith. – Unto every one who hath seen his Misery by Sin, and his Danger of god’s eternal Wrath, if he abides in a State of Unbelief; who hath had a Discovery of Christ the great SAVIOUR, the only Refuge which God hath provided for poor Sinners, and has been enabled to flee unto Him by Faith: Unto that Soul, God hath given an everlasting Security, That he shall not perish, but have everlasting Life. The Soul that at the Gospel-Call, has run into Christ by Faith, as an Hiding-place from the Wind, and a Covert from the Storm, is eternally secur’d in Him, from endless Misery, unto endless Glory. Unto every and all of those, who have fled to Christ for Refuge, to lay hold on this Hope set before them, the LORD hath given his Word and Oath, that by these two immutable Things, in which it was impossible for GOD to lie, these Heirs of Promise might have a strong Consolation, Heb. vi. 17, 18. Oh my Brethren, when the SAVIOUR receiv’d you as perishing Sinners, to save you to the uttermost; God gave you his Word of Promise, his great unchanging Word, as it stands in his Book, for your Salvation. Yea, did he not apply some Promise or other to your Hearts, and persuade you thereby, of your everlasting  Security in JESUS? – And tho’ that Life and Power, that Savour and Sweetness, which attended the Moments of application, may be worn off your spirits; yet those Grants and Bequeathments made buy the Promise, as it stands in God’s Book, and when apply’d unto you, are invariably the same. The Promise, yea, all the Promises of God to you, are Yea, and Amen in Christ, 2 Cor. i. 20. A constant Yea, a fixed Amen. The Gifts and Calling of God are without Repentance, Rom. xi. 29. Remember, that all the Promises of God to you, are made in Christ: In Him who is your ALL. Whom God hath made unto you, Wisdom and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption, I Cor. i. 30. They are made in the unchangeable JESUS, who hath for you an unchangeable Fulness: By Virtue of which you are and shall be rendred for ever, the Objects of God’s Delight. They are made by the LORD Jehovah, who changeth not. They are made for your Security; they are made for your Consolation. And that your Security might be double, and your Consolation strong; to God’s unchanging Word, he hath added his inviolable Oath. And, because he could swear by no greater, he hath sworn by himself: That in Blessing he will bless you. In which is included, the Forgiveness of all your Sins; the Justification of your Persons; the wondrous Privilege of your becoming the Sons of God; your Right to Grace and  Glory, and to all good Things; the Sanctification of yur Natures, by the Word and Spirit, thro’ all the Changes which pass over you; and the complete Glory of your whole Persons, or your being rais’d up in Conformity to Christ, unto the Enjoyment of eternal Life with Him. What a wondrous ALL of blessings then, is compris’d in the Word and Oath of GOD, which are given unto you in CHRIST! The Promise is the Expression of God’s Mind, of the Thoughts of his Heart towards you in his dear Son; which stand fast unto all Generations. And the LORD having given you his great Word; the infinite Truth and Faithfulness of Jehovah, are engag’d to make it good. And as in infinite Condescension and amazing goodness, the LORD hath added his solemn Oath to his great Word; how strongly hath He bound himself to save you? A Word so great, cannot be broken. An Oath so solemn, cannot be violated. And so great a Being, so strongly engag’d, will not, cannot lie. It is impossible that he should, both with regard to his immutable Nature, and to his solemn Engagements. The Promise, the Word that is gone out of his Mouth, stands for ever fast upon the solid Basis of the great unchanging Purpose of his Heart. And the Oath of GOD, stands in Himself, as firm as Himself. For the LORD, in swearing by HIMSELF, by all that is in HIM, hath engag’d all his infinite Perfections to perform it, to  save his People to the uttermost. And both the Word and Oath of GOD, being given us, not only for our Security, but also for our Consolation, and for this End in Particular, as is specify’d, That we who have fled for Refuge to lay hold on the Hope set before us, might have a strong Consolation: How great is our Unbelief, when we receive not so great a Witness: And how great is our Folly, when we refuse to be comforted with so great a Consolation, as the great JEHOVAH hath given us?
The Word and Oath of GOD, given to Believers in CHRIST, being the solid everlasting Ground of Faith; Here Faith should rest, when it han’t the Prop of spiritual Sense to lean on. – Most kindly our Lord at first, indulges his weak Children, applies his Promises with glorious Power to their Hearts, and clothes them with such great and sensible Effectsupon the Soul, that bear down Unbelief, and draw out Faith, to claim its Interest in the Promise, in the promis’d SAVIOUR, and in his Salvation. And the New-born Babe in Christ, finding itself by the Promise, to be brought forth as it were into a new World, from Darkness and Death, Weakness and Bondage, Sin and Sorrow, into Light and Life, Liberty and Strength, Joy and Holiness; is apt to think, that these blessed and sensible Effects of the promise, will always abideupon its Heart. – But the Lord designs to learn his Child to walk by Faith, when it han’t the  Supports of spiritual Sense to bear it up. And for this Reason among others, withdraws his Sun-like Face, and calls the Soul when it walks in Darkness, and hath no Light of Sense to go by, to trust in the LORD, and to stay himself upon his God. – But oh, the Soul being inured to a Prop, knows not how at first to go alone. Sense being gone, its Faith begins to fail. Because the Soul believ’d the Promise, as to its own Interest in it, rather upon those gracious Effects of it, which it once saw and felt in itself, than upon the infinite Grace, the Almighty Power, and unchangeable Truth and Faithfulness of GOD the Promiser. It is true, the Faith of a Believer, ultimately centers in these, and the Soul don’t know at first, that it leans too much to Sense, and goes thro’ gracious effects, to take up the Promise of Grace. But it is manifest that it doth; in that when the Promise is as it were stripp’d of present sensible Effects on the Heart, the Soul finds it a hard Task, to believe a naked Promise, to trust in a naked Word, merely upon the Credit of the Promiser. Without are Fightings, and within are Fears. Satan, by his Temptations, with all his Power, opposes the Soul’s believing without Sight. An unbelieving Heart, raises a thousand Objections; and the Soul stands trembling, and knows not how to set one Foot forward by Faith, when Sense is gone. – And utterly would it cast away its Confidence, if everlasting Arms were not  underneath, to support the soul, and strengthen it for Acts of Faith without Sight; to trust in the LORD, even when he seems to slay it, and to hope in his Word, even against Hope, or in the Face of a thousand Difficulties and Discouragements. – And then, the Soul having found a solid Basis to rest on, an Anchor-hold in Storms, and being enabled by Faith to honour GOD; God will honour Faith, and break forth again upon the Soul with further Shines of his infinite Kindness, thro’ the fresh Application of the Promises, to comfort and strengthen the Soul after its Conflict. – And thus the LORD teacheth his Children to trust in Him, when He hides Himself from the House of Jacob, and to stay upon their God, when they walk in the Dark; and also, to look and long for the Light of his Countenance, to turn Night into Day, and Winter into Summer. And thus to walk on with God in the Faith of his promis’d Grace, thro’ various Changes inward and outward, in the present Time, until the unchangeable State of their promis’d Glory, their eternal Glory comes.
Are there any of you then, my Brethren, that have no yet been taught a Life of pure Faith, of trusting in, and resting on the Promise of God’s Grace, when you don’t see the gracious Effects thereof in your own Hearts? What shall I say to you? Oh dear Souls, you forget the glorious Person in whom the Promise  was made, and thro’ whom it is to be fulfill’d unto you. Hath God promised you eternal Life, as Believers in Christ? Is this the Voice of his Promise, as it stands in his Book? Was this its voice when apply’d by the Spirit unto your Hearts? Oh consider, it was made in CHRIST; in him who of God is made unto you, Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption. – What, doubt the Promise, because you see your own Folly? Oh remember, CHRIST is your Wisdom. Made so of GOD, by Constitution, by Appointment. Your Wisdom, to represent you wise, without the least Spot of folly before God. Your Wisdom, to be communicated, to make you wise inherently, unto increasing Degrees, until a Perfection of Wisdom be given you. – What, afraid the Promise don’t belong to you, because of your Unrighteousness? Oh consider, CHRIST is your Righteousness. His complete Obedience is imputed to you, and you accounted by God, and presented to Him, completely righteous therein. – What, refuse to be comforted by the Promise, because of your Unholiness, because of your remaining Corruptions, and the Imperfection of your Graces? CHRIST is your Sanctification. In his perfect personal Holiness, as your Head, you as Members of his Body, as Branches in him your holy Root, are presented completely holy unto God. And in him your Treasury, your Store-House of all Grace and Glory, you have a  Fulness to be communicated, in further Measures, unto higher Degrees, until you are fully wrought up into a complete Conformity to Christ, to God’s First-born, your glorious Pattern and Exemplar. – What, think you are not the Lord’s Free-Men, according to Promise, because you are still in some Degree, bound by Sin and Satan, overcome by these enemies, and brought into Captivity; and thereby, into Bondage-Frames? Oh see, CHRIST is your Redemption? In him your Redemption is complete. As you stand before God in a risen JESUS, Sin hath no more Dominion over you; Satan’s Power is quite destroy’d; and the Lawis perfectly fulfill’d. In Christ, you are Free-Men indeed: Completely redeem’d from all Slavery, into full and glorious Liberty. In him the Work is completely and for ever done. And by virtue of that complete Redemption by Price, which you now have in Christ; you shall erelong be completely redeem’d by Power, in all Respects, in your own Persons, from all Misery, unto all Glory. – Oh doubt not your Interest in the Promises of GOD, because of your own Wants and Emptiness; since they are made unto you in CHRIST, who is All Fulness, and your ALL. And ye (saith the Holy Ghost) are compleat in Him, Col. ii. 20. Not ye shall be, tho’ that is a Truth contain’d in other Texts; but ye are complete in Him. Your Completeness in Christ, my Brethren, is so full, so  unchangeably perfect, that nothing can be taken from it, nor added to it. It rises not with your holy Frames, nor sinks when they fall. God hath given you a complete Head, a full Completeness in him, and an everlasting Acceptance in the Beloved. In Him, you are every Way such as God can delight in. And all the Promises being made unto you in Christ, in Him your prefect, your acceptable Head; there are none of your personal Imperfections, that can, or shall, hinder the Performance thereof unto you, through Him. And as the Promises is the Expression of God’s Heart, of the sovereign Resolve of his Will, to be gracious unto you in and thro’ his dear Son; It stands in the infinite, immutable Grace of JEHOVAH’s Nature, quite independent on your Goodness, and can never fail, so long as GOD endures. Oh my Brethren, you little Things, What, doubt the Love of God, and the Promise of his Grace, because you see no Worthiness, no Loveliness in yourselves? Little do you think, How freely, how greatly GOD loves you! He loves you like his Great SELF! yea, the Love of God to you, is HIMSELF loving you! And can you measure the Heighth, the Depth, the Breadths and Lengths of infinite Love? No; it passeth Knowledge! is far beyond the Search of finite Understanding! None but GOD himself, perfectly knows the infinite Glories,  the Freeness, the Sovereignty, the Strength, the Greatness, the vast Infinity and Eternity of his Love unto you. All the Fulness of God, is compris’d in his Love. The Promise stands in infinite Love, as well as in an infinite Person, infinitely beloved; and from thence, thro’ Christ, shall have a glorious Fulfilment, to the most unlovely, unworthy, poor, and needy Souls, that hang upon the Promise of Grace held forth to Sinners, in the Word of the Gospel. Oh my Brethren, The Lord your GOD (thro’ the once-bleeding, now risen, interceding, and reigning LAMB) in the Midst of you is mighty; He will save, he will rejoice over you with Joy: He will rest in his Love, he will joy over you with Singing, Zeph. iii. 17. Doth GOD rest, complacently and continually rest in his Love towards you in CHRIST: And will not you rest in it? Is it the infinite Resolve of GOD’s Heart, to save you thro’ CHRIST: And will you not believe it: Will God rejoice over you, to do you Good with is whole heart, and with his whole Soul, and joy over you therein with Singing: And shall not your Hearts and Souls, sing and rejoice, in and with Him? Oh hearken to your Lord’s Voice, even you who are the weakest Lambs of Christ’s Fold: For unto you he saith, Rejoice in the Lord alway: And again I say, Rejoice. Phil. iv. 4. – And hence, my Brethren,  While you live and walk by Faith, I would give a Hint,
Secondly, That it is the Duty and Privilege of a Believer, to improve his Faith, unto Holiness. Abide in me, saith our Lord, and I in you. As the Branch cannot bear Fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine: No more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the Vine, ye are the Branches: He that abideth in me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much Fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing, John xv. 4, 5. Believing our Interest in JESUS, it is our Duty, to go out of our empty needy Selves, unto the Fulness of Christ by Faith, to derive life and Strength from Him continually, to maintain and increase our Graces, and to enable us for all holy Duties. And the greater our Obedience of Faith and Love is; the greater will be our Lord’s Joy in us, as obedient Children to Him, as fruitful Branches in Him; and the more abundant will be our own Joy. As, Ver. 8, – 11. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much Fruit, so shall ye be my Disciples.  These Things have I spoken unto you, that my Joy might remain in you, and that your Joy might be full. Those are fruitful Christians, glorious Souls, who improve their Faith of Interest in Christ, unto abiding in Him, and deriving from Him continually; in Order to their walking with Him closely, in the white Garments of a Gospel-Conversation, or in all Manner of holy Conversation and Godliness. Faith and Holiness, are closely connected in the Gospel of Christ. And having an High Priest over the House of God: Says the Apostle, Let us draw near with a true Heart, in full Assurance of Faith, having our Hearts sprinkled from an evil Conscience, and our Bodies washed with pure Water. Let us hold fast the Profession of our Faith without wavering, (for He is faithful that hath promised) And let us consider one another to provoke unto Love, and to good Works, Heb. x. 21, 22, 23. And thus he addresses the Saints, 2 Cor. vii.1. Having therefore these Promises, (dearly beloved) let us cleanse ourselves from all Filthiness of the Flesh and Spirit, perfecting Holiness in the Fear of God. The Lord what was the Author, will be the Finisher of our Faith: And yet we are exhorted to hold fast our Confidence. The God of Peace will sanctify us wholly: And yet we are exhorted to Cleanse ourselves, and to perfect Holiness in his Fear. Which shews us, That the same Work, which is God’s efficiently,  is ours instrumentally: Or, that God will do it for us, in the Use of those Means which He hath appointed. And as holding fast the Profession of our Faith without Wavering, we are exhorted to provoke one another unto Love, and to good Works: And as having these Promises, we are exhorted to Cleanse ourselves, &c. It shews us, That Faith and full Assurance of Faith, hath a glorious Influence into Holiness, and is a strong Motive thereunto. And therefore the Apostle John, when he says, in the full Assurance of Faith, Beloved, now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know, that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is, I John iii. 2. He adds, And every Man that hath this Hope in him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure, Ver. 3. And, He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk, even as He also walked, Chap. ii. 6. – Thus it appears to be the Duty of a Believer, to improve his Faith, unto Holiness. As we ought to take up our Faith of interest in Christ and his Salvation, first and principally, upon the Credit of the free and faithful Promise of a GOD that cannot lie, made in his Book, and apply’d to the Heart of every one that believeth in JESUS; and to hold this fast in the Face of a thousand Discouragements from the Strength of remaining Corruptions, and the Weakness  of our Graces: So likewise, for the Glory of God, we ought to improve Faith, unto Holiness. And as this is our Duty; so our Privilege. For our own Comfort too, ought we thus to put Faith out to Use. Inasmuch as when Faith at God’s Command, goes out directly to its Object; Sense by his Appointment, comes in, in an orderly Way, to corroborate and strengthen Faith’s Testimony. And therefore saith this Apostle John, And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his Commandments, I John ii. 3. And thus the Apostle Paul, And we desire that every one of you do shew the same Diligence, unto the full Assurance of Hope unto the End, Heb. vi. 11. And as, my Brethren, our Growth in Grace, and in the knowledge of Christ, will be proportionable to our Diligence in the Use of Means; as God’s manifestative Glory and our present Comfort are greatly concern’d herein; So likewise is our future Crown of Righteousness, that Reward of good Works, which of the freest Grace, awaits Belieers at Christ’s Appearing. As I Cor. iii. 13, 14. And thus the Apostle Peter exhorts the Saints, unto whom are given exceeding great and precious Promises, that by these they might be Partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the Pollution which is in the World through Lust: Giving all Diligence, add to  your Faith, Virtue; and to Virtue, Knowledge; and to Knowledge, Temperance; and to Temperance, Patience; and to Patience, Godliness; and to Godliness, brotherly Kindness; and to brotherly Kindness, Charity. For (saith he) if these Things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these Things, is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old Sins. (The Believer, that don’t give all Diligence, to add to his Faith, Holiness; weakens his Confidence in the Forgiveness of Sins, and raises Mists of Darkness, to obscure the Goory thereof from his View) Wherefor the rather, Brethren, give Diligence to make you Calling and Election sure: (To make it stand forth to be seen in the Fruits of it, to the Glory of God, as it were unshaken before all; that by contrary walking, your Interest in electing and calling Grace may not seem to totter, or fall, to the View of others, nor yet appear uncertain in your own Sight) For if ye do these Things, saith the Apostle, ye shall never fall. (From your own Stedfastness in Faith and Holiness, while another outruns you, and takes your Crown) For so an Entrance shall be ministred unto you abundantly (as rich Heirs of Glory, filled with the Fruits of  Righteousness) into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. i. 4, &c –
Unto you then, my dear Brethren, who are enabled to live by Faith, when you have no spiritual Sense, gracious Frames, and joyful inward Feelings to rest on; unto you let me say, As you are blest with the Faith of your Completenessin Christ; Follow on to know HIM, the Fellowship of his Sufferings, and the Power of his Resurrection more and more in your own Souls daily. You are now complete in Christ. You are shortly to be so thro’ Him, in your own Persons. Oh, Abiding in Christ by Faith, hasten on, in the Use of all the Means of Grace, unto that Day’s Glory! I know that the Love of Christ, and of God in Him, will constrain you; that Assurance of Faith, hath a glorious Influence into all holy Practice. But yet, my Brethren, the Lord sees we need, and we ought to suffer, The Word of Exhortation. For as Satan tempts us to Unbelief, from our Incompleteness in ourselves, while we look for spiritual Sense to assist our Faith, for personal Holiness, to help us to believe the Promises, or first and primarily to take up our Faith of Interest in them from thence: So when we are blest with the Faith of our Completeness in Christ, when the glorious Influence which attends  the Moments of Discovery, is worn off our Spirits; Satan may tempt us to carnal Security. And our own slothful Hearts, may insensibly sink into Spiritual Laziness, and a Neglect of that vigorous Pursuit after personal Holiness, which is call’d for of those who believe their Completeness in JESUS. As on the one Hand, being tempted, we adhere too much to Sense, before we will believe: So on the other Hand, it is possible that we may be tempted, when we begin to go by Faith to have too great a Disregard of spiritual Sense. – I speak not thus, my honor’d Brethren, as if I knew, or thought, that this was the Case with any of you. But I only give a Hint, that in this Respect, as well as in others, we all ought to beware of Satan’s Devices; who at all Times, and by all Ways, seeks to hinder our Faith and Holiness. And also to keep up an holy Watchover our own wicked Hearts, which are naturally bent to Backsliding from God. Let us first be concern’d about our Duty, and to enjoy our Privilege, of Believing without Sight, of believing our Interest in Christ, and his Salvation, merely upon the Credit of the free Promise of the faithful and unchanging God, amidst a thousand Changes in ourselves: And next, let us most earnestly labour after Sense, or the sensible Enjoyment of God, and an entire Dedication to  Him. If we duly regard the former, we can’t be too much in earnest about the latter. Sense is an unspeakable Privilege, when it is added to Faith. When Sense is kept in a due Subordination to Faith, and follows it in its appointed Order; it is like adding another Sail to a Ship, to make its Motion more swift. Let Faith be the main Top-sail; and Sense as a lower Sail, will be of vast Advantage. When Faith and Sense are join’d, or Faith and all the other Graces are in Exercise, in the Duties and Beauties of Holiness; when all Sails are up, when all Sails are fill’d with the glorious Gales of the Holy Ghost; That Soul hath full Assurance, or in full Sail of Faith, runs sweetly and swiftly, as it were directly before the Heavenly Wind, unto its desired Haven of eternal Glory. Those are glorious Christians, who in an unshaken Faith of their Interest in Christ, and in God thro’ Him, are Men: And yet in their Desires after Communion with God in Love, or a frequent tasting that the Lord is gracious, to influence their Souls into all gracious Practice, are like new-born Babes. Oh my Brethren, our Lord, our God, is a Lover: And He takes an infinite Pleasure in his People’s Love. In our loving of Him, who first loved us. Our loving Lord, delights to have us like fond Children, that want always to hang on the Breast, and be dandled on the Knee, and that can’t endure their Parent’s  Absence. Highly our Lord commended the Church at Ephesus for her Obedience, Rev. ii. 2, 3. Nevertheless, saith he, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first Love, Ver. 4. We should have more of our Lord’s Presence, if we could not be contented without it, if we did not let Trifles and Creature-Vanities run away with our Hearts. Therefore (saith the Prophet) Thou hast forsaken thy People, the House of Jacob, because they be replenished from the East. – and they please themselves in the Children of Strangers, Isa. ii. 6. It was well said by a dear Servant of Christ, “Faith carries it above all the Graces, in Point of Justification: But Love above all, in Point of Christ’s Manifestation of Himself. Christ knows what it is to love; and no Soul shall die for the Love of Him.” Fond Souls, that love the Enjoyment of Christ, and are earnest to shew their Love to Him in keeping his Commandments; shall be eminently blessed with his, and with his Father’s Presence. According to his Promise, John xiv. 21, 23. He that hath my Commandments, and keepeth them, He it is that loveth me: And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I willlove him, and will manifest myself unto him. – And we will come unto him, and make our Abode with him. – Come then, my Brethren, you that are blest with the Views of your Completeness  in Christ, and with the Faith of Interest in God’s eternal and unchangeable Love thro’ him; with this strong Wine of the Gospel, refresh’d as Giants, rejoice to run the Race that is set before you, in all holy Obedience. Oh, none have such Furniture for Holiness, and are under such high Obligations to this glorious Liberty, as those Christians, who are blest with the Faith of Assurance, with the Views of their unchangeable Completeness in Christ, amidst all the Variations of their own Frames. Come, my Brethren, look to Christ, your glorious Pattern: See you not, how perfectly dead you are to Sin, and alive unto God in Christ? Rom. vi. 11. See you not the complete Glory of the second Adam, and your Completeness in Him? Oh remember, that as is the Head, so must be the Members. As is the Heavenly Man, so must those be that are Heavenly. Such they are in a begun Measure; such they shall be in the highest Perfection, I Cor. xv. 48. Are you dead to Sin in Christ? Oh, Let not Sin live and reign in your mortal Body, that you should obey it in the Lusts thereof, Rom. Vi. 12. Are you alive unto God in Christ? Oh rest not in dead lifeless Frames; but seek renewed Quicknings, from Christ your living Head, from Him the second Adam, who is to you, a quickening Spirit, I Cor. xv. 45. Is your Fruit unto God, found in Christ, your green Fir-Tree? Oh rest  not in a barren, fruitless condition in your own Souls; but in the Use of all appointed Means, seek for fresh divine Influences, that you may have your Fruit unto Holiness; the End whereof will be Everlasting Life, Rom. vi. 22. Are you made nigh unto God in Christ, admitted into the highest Favour and Fellowship? Of endure not Distance from God in your own souls; you are called into Fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: Draw night to God, and He will draw nigh to you, Jam. iv. 8. – Oh my Brethren, May we not blame ourselves for our own Deadness, Unfruitfulness, and Distance from God? Hath He ever said to the Seed of Jacob, seek ye ME in vain? Do we not rather lie down upon a Bed of Sloth, when our Beloved withdraws himself; then arise to seek Him in the Use of Means, till the Grace of the Means flows down upon us, and quickens us to a holy Earnestness, and Restlessness of Spirit, until we find him whom our Souls love? In a Word, my Brethren, Are we complete in Christ? Do we believe it, and so enter into Rest by Faith? Never let us rest from Duty, till in conformity to him, we are compleat in ourselves. Let us not think, That we have already attained, or that we are already perfect: but let us follow after, if that we may apprehend that (perfect Holiness and Glory) for which also we are apprehended  of Christ Jesus, Phil. iii. 12. – And now, my dear Brethren, That the God of Peace, may fill you all,with all Joy and Peace in Believing; sanctify you wholly in Spirit, Soul and Body: And preserve you blameless unto the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Is the hearty Desire of,
My Honour’d Brethren,
Your most Affectionate Friend
And humble Servant,
In our glorious LORD,
The once Slain, now
Text: [Dutton, Anne.] A Letter on the Duty and Privilege of a Believer, to Live by Faith, and to Improve his Faith unto Holiness. In Letters on Spiritual Subjects, and Divers Occasions, sent to the Reverend Mr. George Whitefield, and Others of his Fiends and Acquaintance (London: Printed by J. Hart, in Popping’s-Court, Fleetstreet: And Sold by J. Lewis, in Bartholomew-Close, near West-Smithfield; and E. Gardner, at Milton’s-Head, near Aldgate, 1745), 144-74.