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thought of them for a few minutes together. It is not so with us in things we really believe: we are affected with them ; and cannot shake off the impressions, which they make on our minds. Whenever the spirit of true faith, by the effectual grace of God, its true and only author, takes hold of a man, he begins to feel the difference between real faith and that which is feigned. When once he thoroughly believes the majesty of God, the evil and the heinousness of sin, and of his own sins particularly, the reality of the resurrection and of the last judgment, and the certainty of that awful voice of the Judge against the wicked, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,” he loses his worldly cares and fears. They cannot now take up his mind. The great object, that fills his soul, leaves no room for worldly thoughts and desires to engross him.
“ What shall I do to be saved ?” begins to be his anxious inquiry : Prayer becomes a real business; and attention to the word of God, read and preached, a most serious matter.
He uses means of grace carefully; he abstains from sin so far as he knows it; and, while he feels the bitterness and the poisonous nature of sin, he loathes and dreads it, and is now longing to obtain forgiveness for the past, and sanctifying grace for the future.
Has the Spirit of God brought you thus far? Take comfort, encourage yourself in seeking God, through Christ. You will now find how much unbelief you had in you,
knew it not and fancied
your faith to be as good as it needed to be. And, to you who are in a truly serious, humbled, and penitent state, I dare appeal, whe
ther you find it so easy a thing to be a true believer of God's word? For thus far I have shown the power of faith as it refers to the Law. It yet remains to speak of the power of faith, as it refers to the Gospel. To learn to receive truly that faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, that “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” you will find requires strength and light from above. Justified by Christ alone; regenerated by the Spirit ; cordially believing the excellency and the preciousness of Christ, and his saving offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; and understanding the way and the manner of coming to God by him, you will enjoy peace of conscience, victory over sin, and success in the warfare against the flesh, and the world, and the devil. The knowledge of the pleasantness of wisdom's ways, the love of true holiness, and the earnests and foretastes of the heavenly kingdom, cheer the mind here on earth, by realizing things unseen, and by substantiating things hoped for. But all this you find difficult to be attained. It is indeed a great thing for a man to find, by experience, that the hope of eternal life, through Jesus, can cheer and comfort his mind under present difficulties; and that, by a thorough belief of God's gracious Providence, caring for him and making all things work together for his good, he can in reality“ be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make his requests known unto God.” However difficult all this be, because we are fallen creatures, moved by sense so much, and by faith so little, yet it must be confessed, there cannot be a more pleasant duty, in its own nature, or more richly repaying him who practises it, than faith working by love, How light and easy is the soul that has attained a good measure of it! This lively faith brings to a man the consciousness of mercies received, which enables him to serve God with the pleasing constraint of gratitude.
True faith, if it cannot answer difficulties in the way of argument, can yet controul, overrule, and cut them short: “ It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth ?” and “ He that spared not his own Son, how shall He not with him freely give us all things?” In the exercise of this faith the Christian feels his strength, and enjoys a divine taste and relish. What he before thought impossible, now becomes possible. Not because God
, and his Christ and holiness are changed; they must ever be the same; but because he himself is changed. And this very thought, namely, that such declarations of Scripture teach him to expect things directly contrary to the course of his natural feelings, may comfort the penitent soul, and encourage him to believe that God in Christ can “ do exceeding abundantly for him above all that he can ask or think,” and can “ lead the blind by a way they know not.'
And as to the great difficulty, "What right have I to expect such favours, and everlasting life?” True faith answers“ Jesus is worthy; God gives
“ eternal life to believers, and this life is in his Son." When this is truly and thoroughly understood, and the soul is encouraged hereby to cast itself on the broad mercy of God in Christ, freely offered to sinners, it shall be filled, in God's good time, with
peace and joy in believing, and so be fitted to live by faith in the Son of God. The same “ Grace of God which bringeth salvation, teacheth us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world,” with a spirit above the world, Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” In the next life faith shall be exchanged for sight. The Christian shall be unspeakably happy for ever.
But I am not preaching to him in that state. The enjoyment of God in Christ hereafter will give him lectures of holiness and bliss immensely beyond what we can now conceive. But I have shown, in some degree, what the power of faith is; what it can do for a man; how distinct it is from that poor dead speculative thing with which men generally content themselves; and how the Spirit of God works it in the hearts of men.
To conclude. If you have hitherto contented yourself with the name of faith, instead of the thing, I must say, however imperfectly I have handled this subject, that enough has been said to show you the danger of such a mistake.
Give over your false hopes. Be earnest after a religion divinely comfortable, and such as will make you new creatures. Study the Law and the Gospel; and learn to be humbled by the one and comforted by the other, that you may believe to the saving of the soul. If you
have learnt so far as to know yourselves to be blind, guilty, and miserable sinners; remember you are now to learn to believe in God's word of salvation by Christ. And in learning this, you will assure yourselves that God is better, infinitely better, to them that seek him, than they can conceive. You, that have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, must find that rest and peace to your souls, which He only can bestow. And while you continue to maintain realizing views of Him, and the blessings He has promised, you will be enabled to fulfil every duty, to overcome every difficulty, and to resist every temptation.