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Faith accompanied with love.
counted to him for righteousness. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed,—And he went out, not knowing whither he went.' He did not know to what country, or among what people he was going, whether they would be friends or foes. He knew not what would be the situation of his family, whether they would be comfortable, or exposed to suffering. Ignorant of all these things he went forth. And why did he take this step? Because he had faith ; he had that unbounded confidence in God, which led him to give himself up to his direction entirely.
Now the Lord Jesus Christ offers to save us in a way peculiarly his own, “not by works of righteousness which we have done,” or can do, but by pure mercy, by free unmerited grace. And the only condition required is, that we have confidence in, and venture upon this promise. By this simple act of faith, which takes Christ at his word, renouncing dependence upon every thing else, and resting upon his simple and naked promise, by this faith we are justified. Our justification then is a free and unmerited gift, the result of unbounded love and infinite mercy.
3. He who has this faith will be humble. Says the apostle, after having given some account of this mode of salvation, “ Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what law ?-of works ? nay, but by the law of faith.” If all the good deeds that I ever have done or can do, cannot have the least influence in meriting the favour of Jehovah, this thought must make me humble, and keep me low at the foot of the cross. The wery terms on which life is received pulls down the pride and haughtiness of the human heart. The sinner comes as a criminal to be pardoned,—as a rebel to make his submission, and cast himself upon the mercy of his prince. “ By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.'
4. The man who has this faith will have a heart filled with deep gratitude to God. Our salvation not being the work of our own hands, but the unmerited gift of God, cannot fail to awaken the deepest emotions of gratitude; and as the grace of Christ is sufficient for the chiefest of sinners, they who were the fartherest gone in the pathway of
Faith the only source of solid comfort.
destruction will have the greatest reasons to adore the mercy, and the strongest inducements to continue in the service of God.
Simon," said the Saviour to one who did not comprehend this mode of salvation, “ on, I have somewhat to say unto thee. There was a certain creditor who had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty, and when he had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.". There is no need of a commentary to show how fully this goes to illustrate the remark we just made. And what encouragement is there here for the chiefest of sinners! Whatever be the debt of your sins, come unto Christ, penitent and believing, and he will frankly forgive you all.
5. The faith which we have been considering is the only source of true obedience and holiness. Every one who reads attentively the eleventh chapter in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we think, will be fully convinced of this. All those enumerated worthies are represented as having “ wrought righteousness,” and accomplished the great works there recorded, through faith. In that chapter the apostle had undertaken to explain the nature of faith. This he does by showing how it influenced all those holy men to obedience and holiness. Faith was the moving and sustaining principle which led them to sacrifice all their comforts, and life itself, in order to obey God. Faith is that act by which the believer not only casts himself upon the mercy, but places himself as a willing and obedient subject under the government of God.
Lastly. This faith is the only source of solid comfort to the Christian. If my salvation is to depend upon my own righteousness, even in the smallest degree, I have no hope. Every one that examines the workings of his own heart must be deeply convinced of what St. Paul says, “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing” I see so many corrupt inclinations, and so much proneness to sin, if God do not, for Christ's sake, pardon me out of pure mercy, if he do not save me entirely by grace, I shall be lost. But he promises thus to save me. Christ, therefore,
Narrative of Mr. F_
is the sheet anchor of my hopes. I know that " he that has promised is faithful," and that through him I shall “ come off more than conqueror."
To illustrate some of the thoughts that have been presented in this lecture, the following sketch may not be without use.
“Mr. F—, in early life, had unusually bright prospects. Nursed in the lap of prosperity, he found himself at a very early period in possession of an immense fortune. His parents were now no more. They had endeavoured to instil into the mind of their child, principles of piety. Although gay and full of spirits, he was not vicious. He became interested in, and married a young lady of very opposite character to himself.
Several years previous to her marriage, she had professedly renounced the pomps and vanities of the world. She had really been desirous to save her soul. All the external duties of religion were most faithfully and conscientiously discharged. Her hours of devotion were regularly observed. Her seclusion from the gay world, considering her age, and the circle in which she moved, was remarkable. She was constantly engaged in works of charity. She had all the tempers of her mind under the strictest and most rigid discipline. To the close observer, however, it was discoverable that she was not exactly happy. There was an aspect of mournfulness that sat upon her countenance, and a tinge of gloom that pervaded all her conversation.
Mr. F-, after their marriage, embarked all his capital in trade. A singular concurrence of untoward events wrested from him his whole estate, and left him absolutely poor. He retired into the country, sick of the world and disgusted with business. He had naturally great faults of temper, and these were increased by his misfortunes. Mrs. F-, however, martyr-like, bore every thing with great patience and meekness. And he in a short time began to think of seeking happiness in religion. He read the sacred volume regularly, and commenced worship in his family These duties he faithfully performed for a number of years. He began to persuade himself at length that he was truly a Christian, and upon the whole very religious. His character, however, had undergone no change.
Change in Mr. F-'s views.
always moral, and his faults of temper remained the same. Often the slightest thing that crossed his wishes would throw him into such a rage, that he appeared more like a maniac than a rational being. In this state of irritation he would treat all around him with the greatest unkindness. His religion left him with the same proud, obstinate, and unsubdued spirit with which it found him.
Several years elapsed. At length, a very humble instrument was made use of to awaken the community in which he resided, to a concern about the salvation of their souls. For some weeks Mr. F- seemed not to partake in the slightest degree of the newly-excited religious feeling that surrounded him. But suddenly his deportment was changed; the hauteur that had hitherto marked his character was gone ; he was more than usually grave; he did not give loose to his temper; his whole demeanour was so altered, that it was observable to all who had ever known him that something had deeply affected his mind. All this time, however, he remained taciturn, and absolutely impenetrable. A number of weeks had passed away, and as yet he had not communicated to Mrs. F- -, by the slightest hint, that his views had undergone any change.
About this time he was, perhaps involuntarily, drawn into conversation with the clergyman upon whose ministry he attended. The conversation on the part of the clergyman had taken an animated turn—the subject was personal religion. And the question had been asked, in a tone and with an emphasis that indicated deep feeling,
“ Is there any hope that will abide in a dying hour, or stand the test of the last day, that does not grow out of entire and exclusive trust in Christ ?”
“ No,” said Mr. F, the workings of the muscles in his countenance showing the deep emotions of his soul ; “ No, there is no other hope that will abide in that hour, or stand the test of that day. There is no other hope that will abide when the Lord sitteth as a refiner and purifier of silver. I view these things differently from what I once did. The Bible is a new book to me. I cannot better describe my feelings than by relating to you the reflections that occurred to me while reading Peter's going on the water to meet Jesus. I had read the passage a thousand times, but it now appeared new to me.
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he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid ; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.' I felt that my situation in some respects resembled Peter's. I had left the ship: the ship in which I thought myself safe, and sure of reaching the haven of rest, was my good works. I had been made to see the folly of such a hope ; that there was no good way in me: I had left the ship; the night was dark ; I was walking on the troubled sea; I know not that I had resolved to go to Jesus ; the wind was boisterous ; my sins had stirred up the storm of divine
I was beginning to sink. In this state of mind I sat down to read my Bible : I came to this passage. For the first time a Saviour was distinctly presented to me: I saw that Jesus was able to reach Peter, and save him ; and I cried unto him to save me. I renounced all dependence upon myself, and laid hold of the outstretched hand of the Saviour. I know not how it is, since that time my mind has been perfectly relieved; Christ appears all and in all to
I am happy, yet I do not dare to think that I am renewed; but I mean to serve and follow Christ as long as I live."
All this was said with so meek and childlike a spirit, that his whole deportment was a beautiful illustration of the precept of “ being converted and becoming like a little child.” His subsequent life and conduct were a still more forcible and striking exemplification of that precept. Being led to trust in Christ alone, his religion was now a religion of the heart,—a religion that transformed, subdued, and regulated all the affections and tempers of his soul, -a religion that made him really a new man.
Mrs. F- could not fail to rejoice in this change. But from the conversation of her husband she was led to doubt whether she had not always been deceiving herself. She had been very exemplary, and knowingly neglected no duty. “But, alas !"--was her conclusion—" I have done all this with the idea that I was purchasing heaven by it; Christ has not been the sole foundation of my hope. I have been leaning on my own works, and looking to Christ only to supply their deficiency. But now I see that he must save me just as he saves the greatest sinner.'
This discovery, of course, led to an entire change in the views and feelings of Mrs. F. And after she once