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as satisfactory as if it had been derived from the senses. We so entirely believe that which we see not, as to feel no more hesitation at directing a letter to a friend who had left us to proceed to either of those cities, than in directing to him at any place in London. Again, suppose you received a letter from a friend, on whom you could depend, appointing to meet you at a certain hour to transact some important business; you would act accordingly, and order all your arrangements so as to meet him. Now what would direct and govern your whole conduct in this matter but faith only? You would not act thus if the letter were from one on whom you could place no dependence. Once more ; suppose you wished to commit to the care of another something of great value, either a deed or written agreement of much importance to you, or a large sum of money, and that two persons offered to undertake the charge; the one, whatever may be his professions, you know to have been engaged in fraudulent transactions, to have no moral principle, and to be under great temptation to take advantage of every opportunity to enrich himself; the other is a long-known and tried friend, of whose integrity you have not the slightest doubt; perhaps a brother or a father: you would not hesitate as to which of the two it would be safer to entrust your treasure. Yet the turning-point of your decision would be faith alone. Of the former you would say, “I can place no dependence upon him." In other words, “ I have no faith in him.” On the latter you might so entirely rely, as to feel even more happy and secure than if your property were in your own keeping.
Now, the Bible finds us sinners against God, and justly deserving his everlasting displeasure; it finds us “ dead in trespasses and sins," and hastening onward to eternal death. See Rom. i. 18; iii. 10, 19; Ephes. ii. 1; John iii. 15. It proclaims a Saviour, and bids us “ BELIEVE," and " LIVE." .
BELIEVE; that is, trust entirely to the truth of all that God has said in his word; on all that he has said concerning his Son Jesus Christ. Believe it as truly as if you had accompanied the Saviour during his ministry—seen him on the crosshad been an eye-witness to his resurrection-or had heard the voice which came from heaven, saying, “ This is my beloved Son." Why should you not? There is no want of evidence. By refusing to believe, you act with far greater folly than the man who should take upon him to deny the very existence of the cities before mentioned, because he had never seen them.
BELIEVE; that is, depend upon the promises of God, and act accordingly. Depend especially on the Lord Jesus Christ himself, represented in Scripture as a “tried stone, a precious WHAT IS FAITH ?
lieveth “shall not be confounded," Isa. xxviii. 16; 1 Pet. ii. 6. Depend on his one great atonement for sin, whereby he has rendered it a possible thing for God to pardon even the worst and vilest of transgressors.
Rely upon his righteousness, whereby he has completely honoured and fulfilled the holy law of God which we had broken; so that righteousness may now be “imputed," that is, placed to the account of all who believe; and all such are then regarded as righteous in the sight of God, and bring forth the fruits of holiness.
This, then, is faith. Not a mere belief in the truth of certain facts, though it includes this; nor yet a mere persuasion that our sins are pardoned, so that if we can work ourselves into the belief that our sins are pardoned, they certainly are so. No: mark those little words, in” and “upon,” for they are of great importance. We are not exhorted merely to believe that Jesus was born, and lived, and died for us; but to believe "in" or “upon” him. You will find these words used over and over again in the Bible in reference to faith.
Faith, then, is nothing more or less than “taking God at his word,” giving credit to all that he has spoken, and depending upon the promises of the gospel, and, under a deep sense of our guilt and just desert of the wrath of God, casting ourselves upon, and putting our whole trust in, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our only and all-sufficient Saviour, "able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him," Heb. vii. 25.
With such faith as this, then, be it observed, repentance, that is, a genuine and hearty sorrow for sin, as committed against God, and a desire and purpose to forsake it, will ever be connected. They are, in fact, always joined together in the word of God, and cannot be put asunder. Such a faith will always and necessarily produce holiness of heart and life. It is by faith in Christ that men are expressly said to be sanctified: see Acts xxvi, 18: and in another place faith is spoken of as directly “ purifying" the heart: see Acts xv. 9.
Does any reader of these lines say that he wishes to believe, but feels unable to do so. Let him remember, that God is the author and giver of faith; and his Holy Spirit, which he has said he will give “ to them that ask him," can alone enable him to believe. Go to him with faith, however weak it may be, and ask him for more, as the disciples did, saying, “ Lord, increase our faith,” Luke xvii. 5. Read over and meditate with prayer on those promises which are the very ground of faith. Pray fervently and perseveringly, and the language of your heart will soon be,“ Lord, I believe ; help thou mine unbelief."
“ He shows me what he did, and who he is,
I must, I will, I can, I do believe."
“But the fearful, and unbelieving," together with the “abominable," and “idolaters, and alĩ liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” Rev. xxi. 8.
If we believe not, what do we (awful thought!) but make God a liar ? See 1 John v. 10.
"IF YE BELIEVE NOT,” says: Christ, “ THAT I AM HE, YE SHALL DIE 'IN YOUR SINS,” John viii. 24.
"If we would at once see what 'true and saving faith is, we may take the sum of it in this description. It is when a sinner, being on the one hand thoroughly convinced of his sins-of the wrath of God due to him for them-of his utter inability, either to escape or to bear this wrath ; and, on the other hand, being likewise convinced of the sufficiency, willingness, and designation” [appointment] “of Christ to satisfy justice, and to reconcile and save sinners, doth hereupon yield a firm assent unto these truths revealed in the Scripture, and also accepts and receives Jesus Christ in all his offices—as his Prophet, re, solving to attend unto his teaching--as his Lord and King, resolving to obey his commands and as his Priest, resolving to rely upon his sacrifice alone, and doth accordingly submit to him, and confide in him sincerely and perseveringly. This is that faith which doth justify, and will certainly save all those in whom it is wrought." —Bishop Hopkins.
“No difficulty can stand before faith ; true, saving, justifying faith, carries the soul through all difficulties, discouragements, and natural impossibilities, to Jesus Christ.”—Bridge. .
“When sin past and present appears in its true shape, with all its horrid malignity, and desert of damnation, then is the time for a full sight of Christ. And, oh! how gloriously does the Sun of righteousness arise to the benighted, sin-burdened soul, with healing in his wings! .... Faith can still a clamorous conscience, make a bad conscience good, soften a hard heart, bend á stubborn will, and bring God and man together."- Adam.
Vain are our fancies, airy flights,
To Christ, the living Head.
'Tis faith that works by love,
And lifts the thoughts above.
By a celestial power;
In the decisive hour.
"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants,” Luke xv. 18, 19.
RETURN! “ RETURN, unto me, and I will return unto you.” “Let the unrighteous man return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him," Mal. ii. 7; Jer. iii. 22; Isa. lv. 7. How often does this direction to return occur in the Bible! There must surely be a meaning in it, and that of great importance.
Return! What does this word imply? If a man is travelling in pursuit of some particular object, but, in order to reach it, must turn back and set out in an opposite direction, nothing is more certain than that he has hitherto taken a wrong road. Such, then, is the condition of all to whom these words are add essed. In whatever way they may be wandering, they are alike departing from God, from happiness, from heaven; or else they would not be called upon to return.
Now, it requires no argument to prove that this is the case with those who are walking, wilfully and without shame, in the way of transgressors. That such persons must return if ever they take hold of the path of life, conscience will declare, if allowed to speak, as well as the word of God.
But if you have not taken such a course as this, are you sure that you are in the right way, and that there is no necessity for you likewise to return. Who is it that has twice expressly declared, “ There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death ?” Prov. xiv. 12; xvi. 25. And again, “ Every way of a man is right in his own eyes : but the Lord pondereth the heart ?” Prov. xxi. 2. You need not think this an unnecessary inquiry; for one who did indeed walk in the way of God's testimonies was so anxious about it, that he prayed, “ Search me, O God, and know my heart : try me, and know my thoughts : and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," Psa. cxxxix. 23, 24.
Ask yourself, then, what it is that, from one end of the week to the other, is the first object of your thoughts, wishes, and pursuit ? If, after all, it be only something connected with the present world; and if for this, however lawful in itself, you are neglecting prayer, the study of the Bible, the means of grace, the welfare of your soul; be sure of this, you are not fulfilling the direction of our Lord, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," Matt. vi. 33. You are seeking happiness in that which is created, where you will never find it; you are forsaking the Creator—" the fountain of living waters," in whom you would be sure to find it; you are not seeking your way to Zion, that is to heaven, with your face thitherward. The way you are in may seem very different from the “ path of the ungodly" and the “ way of the wicked,” but it will incline more and more towards it, till it lead you at last to have your portion with the unbelievers. You too are in a wrong way; you must return.
Again: are you hoping, and in some measure seeking, to please God, but still not in the manner he has appointed; endeavouring, for instance, to recommend yourself to his favour on the ground of your own obedience-not, it may be, exclusively, but trusting that your deficiencies will be made up by the atonement of Jesus Christ-so that you hope your repentance and performance of the duties of religion will be accepted, as some express themselves, for his sake; and that when you have done the best you can, your sincere though imperfect obedience will be rewarded with eternal life, through him? This is a way in which many walk ; but under whatever deceitful appearance it may invite our steps, it must be a wrong one, for it is directly opposed to the teaching of Him who said, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me," John xiv. 6. There is but one way which leads into the holiest of all, see