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to fulfil these engagements. And it has the strongest reasons for such confidence, from a consideration of his character; a particular trait in which, is faithfulness to his word. "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good "?"
3. And, further, an experience of his past goodness lays a foundation for our trust. How numerous the favours, how rich the blessings, which our gracious Benefactor has heaped upon us! Can we be so ungrateful as to forget these instances of his kind ness, or refuse to make them a ground of future affiance in him? Shall we dishonour our faithful God, by suspecting his love and care for us, when he hath given such strong proofs of his attention to our welfare? It is by reasonings like these, accompanied with the aid of Divine grace, that the sin of unbelief, so dishonourable to the Almighty, is conquered in the heart of a true Christian. And though, in the hour of extreme trouble and temptation, he may feel afraid, and give into doubts, yet his trust in Jehovah remains unaltered. Yes, however dark and gloomy his prospects may be, however great and severe the trials with which the faith of his devout soul may have to struggle, yet he can say, "I will trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon my God." Though he may be like a vessel driven from her moorings, and tossed by each successive wave, yet he will still confide in his Almighty Friend; saying, "The Lord of Hosts is with me; the God of Jacob is my refuge." And thus he will survive every storm; and at length reach those shores of eternal peace, where bb Num. xxiii. 19. c Isa. 1. 10.
Psalm xlvi. 1—7.
sorrow cannot pursue him any more dd. He cannot open a single page of Scripture in which he does not find some circumstance or promise to encourage his confidence, and strengthen his heart. Thus he goes forward, "hoping against and beyond hope." Assured that "light is sown for the righteous, and joyful gladness for such as are true-hearted," he comforts himself in God, by saying, "Though heaviness may endure for a night, yet joy cometh in the morning."
4. Again; as a believer advances in grace and the knowledge of God, his own experience strongly confirms his trust; because all that help and succour and comfort, which the promises encouraged him to expect, he has seen accomplished, both in himself and in others. In a variety of instances, he has tried the, word of the Lord to the uttermost; and every experiment has served to establish his confidence in an unchanging, covenant-keeping God.
From such evidence, he sees that it is good for him to put his trust in the Lord, in the darkest seasons, when the light of reason fails, and all things seem to make against him; for faith teaches him to rest upon the promise, that "things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." And though the evil motions of unbelief in his breast are far from being destroyed, yet they are always lamented, resisted, and at length put to flight; so that temptations, afflictions, and calamities of the worst kind, are submitted to, as wholesome medicines administered for the purification and happiness of his soul. Hence he acknowledges "it is good Psalm xxx. 5. 'Rom. viii. 28.
dd Rev. xxii. 3-6.
that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord." And in this temper of cheerful affiance in God, he trusts in him, until he arrives at "the haven of undisturbed repose, where his soul would be.”
Examine thyself, Reader: canst thou venture, in this spirit of faith, to cast thyself on the God of Jacob for help and deliverance in the moment of sorrow and danger? Perhaps, instead of this childlike confidence in the Lord, you either distrust him altogether, or presumptuously expect his aid and blessing in the way wherein it cannot be found. Know, that unbelief is the cause of your alienation from him: this darkens the eye of your mind, so that you do not behold his claims to your love and confidence.
Now, you cannot be guilty of a sin which cries more loudly to God for vengeance, than this criminal fear and suspicion and distrust of Him who hath given you so much cause to honour his fidelity. "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. He that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar."
5. Besides, is it not desirable, in the day of trouble and in the hour of death, to have a refuge whereunto we may fly for comfort and hope? Afflictions will assault you in this vale of tears, and death must shortly visit you. And what can you do without solace in the one case, and mercy and hope in the other? And who can administer these blessings, but the very God whom you have forsaken?
Pray for a Scriptural trust in him. Seek, in the first place, pardon of your past neglect, and a knowledge of the character and salvation of the Lord. Whilst this experience of his loving-kindness will
Lam. iii. 26.
1 John v. 9, 10.
preserve you from the false trust of nominal Christians, it will inspire you with the confidence of his dear children, who cry, "Abba, Father." In his bosom they pour their sorrows; and by him they are assuaged. To Him they look for succour; and are not disappointed. He has promised "never to leave nor forsake them;" and he will not fail to be their God and happiness for ever.
Pray, then, ye who know him not, that, in imitation of His people, you may confide in his goodness, honour his faithfulness, and continue in the enjoyment of his love. An affiance thus grounded on the covenant of God cannot deceive us; "because he hath never failed them that seek him."
i Psalm ix. 10.
ON SOCIAL DUTIES; OR, THE TEMPERS OF A CHRISTIAN TOWARDS HIS FELLOW-CREATURES.
ON A SINCERE REGARD TO TRUTH.
Ephes. iv. 25. Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. We have already observed the effects of Christian doctrines in producing conformity to the will of God. It remains for us to shew how they should regulate our behaviour towards mankind. It is their uniform design to produce in us that "love which is the fulfilling of the Law," both as it respects God and our neighbour *.
Now, were the command of Christ, "that we should love one another," universally obeyed, the Church would be a feeble representation of heaven,
2 a Rom. xiii. 10.
and there would be a constant interchange of goodwill amongst its several members. But it is to be deplored, that only a small number of the great body of professing Christians have ever lived in entire subjection to this law of love. "Nevertheless, it is the noble peculiarity of a real disciple of Christ to behave towards every man as he would wish to have all men act towards himself; and to stand as much distinguished by right dispositions towards men, as by faith, love, and devotion towards God."
The Believer proves himself to be an invaluable blessing to society, not only by the influential example of a pious life, but also by maintaining, with a holy constancy, the important doctrines of the everlasting Gospel. We can never, therefore, promote the good of men so extensively, as by inducing them to embrace the religion of Christ, which saves their souls from death, and makes them shine as the lights and ornaments of the world.
Veracity is one of the great principles which connect men together in society, and the only foundation of mutual confidence. Let this barrier be broken down, and lying, and dishonesty, and falsehood, will rush in with violence, and destroy all harmony and trust betwixt man and man. It is no wonder, therefore, that God should mark the want of sincerity and truth with a just stigma of reproach, and approve of upright conduct as that which is peculiarly estimable in his sight. "Lying lips are abomination to the Lord; but they that deal truly are his delight"."
Truth, then, is a precious jewel, which all who desire to live righteously and peaceably must maintain, and cherish in their hearts. Such is the Divine Prov. xii. 22.