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Egypt, it holds out to us, (through faith in an all-sufficient Saviour, and obedience to the precepts of his gospel,) a rescue from sin, and spiritual death, and hell; and in lieu of an earthly Canaan, it offers every faithful follower of Jesus Christ the everlasting peace and happiness of an heavenly kingdom.
Ŏ that we may not be blind to the mercy, nor deaf to the proffer, of this "great sal"vation!" O that we may receive the promise with the faith of Abraham; and that it may work the same influence on our hearts and conduct, which it wrought in his, a willing and steady obedience to the commandments of God; that it may inspire us with submission, resignation, holiness, and practical piety, here; and be our passport, through the atonement of "the
Mediator of the second covenant," to honour, glory, and immortality hereafter!
Subject. THE FAITH OF
THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH.
AND SAVING FAITH, THEIR DIFFERENT CHARACTERS. THE LATTER EXEMPLIFIED IN THE CASE OF ABRAHAM. MORAL INFERENCE.
GENESIS xxii. 1, 2.
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham-and he said, Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him thera for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of
MONG the many points of contro
versy which disturb the peace, and destroy the unity, of the Christian Church, there is no one more productive of dispute and division than the question-what is a
That FAITH is something of the utmost spiritual importance, that it is an essential branch of all acceptable religion, and necessary as a means and condition of everlasting salvation, there can be no doubt; because the Holy Scriptures are full and express to this effect, and from their beginning to their end, speak so highly and perpetually of this spiritual principle, as must convince us that its value is above all price in the formation of the truly religious character.
"If ye will not believe, surely ye shall "not be established," writes the Prophet Isaiah. "The just shall live by his faith :" says Habakkuk. It is the assertion of St. Paul to the Jews, in the synagogue at Antioch, that "all that believe in Christ, "are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of "Moses." The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews positively declares, that "with"out faith it is impossible to please God." He further tells us, that "by faith Abel "offered unto God a more acceptable "sacrifice than Cain:" and (alluding to the affecting history related in the chapter from which our text is borrowed, and to other circumstances in the life of Abraham) the same Apostle observes, that " Abraham's
Such strong and frequently-repeated encomiums on faith not only place its importance in a very clear light, but suffi ciently account for the deep interest with which its nature, properties, and effects, have been discussed by Christians of all ages; for the differences in opinion, which have always existed, and at present exist upon the subject; and for the warmth, and too often want of charity, with which these disputes have been maintained: for it is in the very nature of man to mix up his passions with his religious notions; and in all cases of strong feeling, to be led more by impulse than by reason.
As the principle of faith thus appears to be of paramount consequence in a spiritual point of view, and intimately connected with the duty, and hopes, and future destiny of man; it seems to be highly desirable that we should form correct ideas of its real nature, and essential qualities, lest we should mistake its character; give to the shadow the honour due only to the substance; and fatally deceive ourselves, by fancying we actually possess that treasure, of which we only know the name.
To throw some light on this interesting
topic, will be the object of the following discourse; in which we shall point out, first, what is not faith, though it may claim. for itself that venerable title; and secondly, explain what it actually is, drawing the authorities for our definition from scripture, and more especially from the account of Abraham's behaviour, under the divine command expressed in the text.
The mere profession of religion with the lips, unaccompanied by any manifestation of its influence on the life and conduct, is not faith.
man to He uses
Nothing is more easy than for a be a Christian upon these terms. no effort; he makes no sacrifices. neither controuls his passions; nor checks his inclinations; nor searches out the plagues of his heart; nor struggles against the dangerous propensities of his fallen nature. He plumes himself, however, on being an orthodox member of a particular church, or connection of believers; he says, he has "all faith ;" and, if he bestow any thought on the subject, he fully assures himself, that this faith is "pure
religion, and undefiled before God," and will, unquestionably, save his soul alive.
The zealous adherence to any peculiar doctrines is not faith, if they be maintained