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SIMILAR TO THOSE OF SIGHT. lution ? could he have chosen God as his portion with more decision ? could he have sought eternal rest with more patient perseverance ? He suffered, he acted, he endured, as seeing him who is invisible, and seeing the things that are unseen.
The same were the effects of faith on the holy host of confessors, who were tortured, were stoned, were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; who wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy.
Surely the faith of these sufferers accomplished all that could have been accomplished if they had beheld their “ God in glory," and their wished-for home. Could they, who died martyrs that they might obtain a better resurrection, have done more than die, if all the solemn and triumphant scenes of that resurrection had been exhibited to their view ? Could they who met death in a hundred horrid forms, or wandered in the dens of wild beasts, more desolate than they-could they have endured more constantly if the world they sought had been continually before their eyes ? Faith was indeed to all these the substance of things hoped for. They all endured as seeing things invisible.
In accordance with this view of the effects of faith, the Christian is described as walking by faith. “We walk by faith, not by sight."" The idea suggested appears to be, that the Christian pilgrim pursues his journey to eternity with his heart, and soul, and affections, and actions, directed by those solemn objects which are as yet unseen. He goes forward step by step, influenced solely in his choice, and heart, and conduct, not by the visible objects, which charm the deluded eyes of worldly men, but by the invisible realities of an everlasting state.
Faith overcomes the world. - Faith produces love.m Faith insures holy obedience.”—Faith promotes inward purity as well as outward obedience.°— Faith is a source of peace and comfort.P-Faith gives energy to patience, and promotes perseverance, Faith is a shield. The warrior's shield protected his body, and warded off the thrusts and blows of his enemy; so faith protects the Christian warrior. : (i) Heb. xi. 35-38. (k) 2 Cor. v. 7.. (1) 1 John v. 4., (m) 1 John iv. 19. 1 Pet. ii. 7. 1 Pet. i. 8. (n) John xiv. 15, 23. Gal. v. 6. Jarnes ii. 18, 20, 26. (0) Acts xv. 9. Gal. iii. 26. 1 John iii. 2, 3. (p) Rom. xv. 13. (9) 1 Pet. i. 3. 2 Pet. iii. 14. 1 Thess. V. 8.
THE NOMINAL CHRISTIAN URGED TO It is a breast-plate. The breast-plate, as the word suggests, was designed to guard the breast, and thus protect the vital parts, and especially the heart. This is the place of faith, and while faith is possessed, the heart will be engaged for God, its affections will still turn to him, and the humble believer, safe in this impenetrable breast-plate, will be kept by the power of God through faith to final victory and full salvation.-Faith produces spirituality of mind and affection.'— Faith can be exhibited only by its fruits. “ Show me thy faith without thy works." Do it if thou canst. It is beyond thy power to do so.— Faith cannot exist without being productive of the fruits thus described. This is extremely evident from observing, that in the most solemn manner, the Son of God de. clares, that those only shall enter heaven who do his Father's will, and yet that with equal certainty salvation is promised to every believer. The inference is clear; every believer will do the will and hearken to the precepts of God.
Need we wonder that the faith which produces such effects, and with which the most valuable blessings are connected, is described as precious faith; and have we not reason to unite in the frequent prayer of the apostles, Lord, increase our faith!
85. Are you a believer? You have borne the name of Christian; but most who bear that sacred and abused name, are practical unbelievers. If you have been one of the careless and the formal, permit me to ask, should you fear a threatening dagger? should you dread to swallow a buwl of poison? You know you would; but why? have you ever felt the miseries inflicted by a dagger or by poison ? you have not. Why then would you fear them? because you believe, on the testimony of others, the dreadful effects of daggers and of poisons. You avoid them through faith. A greater than mortals, a greater than angels, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, declares that you are a lost creature, and tells you of scenes of misery to which sin leads, more dreadful than the most dreadful here. Of a world where eternal horror reigns ;-where miseries beyond description dwell;—where, could they inflict a second death, daggers and poisons would be blessings indeed ;-blessings fought for more earnestly than crowns on (r) 2 Cor. iv. 18., 2 Cor: v. 6-8. 1 Thess. i. 9, 10. (8) James ii. 18.
(t) Matt. vii, 21. Mark xvi. 16. Acts xvi. 30,
CONSIDER HIS WANT OF FAITH. earth!—He tells you of an eternal hell, which sin has merited, and to which sin is sinking you; and do you believe ? O! if you did, you would flee from the wrath to come.
A friend tells you of some important good that you may obtain ;-you follow it. Of some pleasures you may enjoy; -you pursue them. Why? because you believe his word, and believe they will increase your satisfaction. Perhaps you are ill.-An acquaintance tells you of a medicine that is an infallible antidote to your disorder : you take it. Why? have you ever tried its virtues ?-No: but you believe him who has. In all these cases you are a believer, and faith leads you to pursue desired good.
God tells you in his word that, pitying your misery, and concerned for your happiness, he gave his best Beloved to suffer in your place. This divine friend calls you to follow him, and assures you that eternal life is the heritage of his disciples. The joys of earth are only like gliding shadows or departing dreams of joy. Heaven alone possesses the fair reality. Every thing fades here; nothing fades there. Here time is short; but there, cternity how long! Yet in this moment must that eternity of bliss be gained, or never be obtained. Now would the Saviour make you an heir of heaven; but beyond the grave he will never extend to you a pitying, helping hand. All this he declares to you in his word. You profess, perhaps, to believe it all, and, oh dreadful !-you slight it all. Do you believe him? What infatuation! what want of common sense to suppose you do! No! if you did you would flee to the shelter of his cross, and find salvation ihere. No! if you did believe him, you would not prefer earth to heaven, and a moment to eternity. No! if you did believe him, you would not continue dying of sin, and careless of the great Physician. And while you neglect him, what are you but a practical infidel? You may talk of eternity and prefer time before it, but not believe in eternal life, as the gift of God through Jesus Christ, and think of eternal life, without feeling that time is a dream, and life a vapour. If this earth could be hung on one side of a balance, and a speck of dust be laid in the other scale, would the dust weigh down the world ? Sooner would it du so, than time be preferred to eternity, by him who cordially believes what the blessed Scriptures say about his wretchedness, and his only remedy !
THE NOMINAL CHRISTIAN URGED TO
Ah! what solemn scenes will soon open upon you; an endless world and all its endless joys or woes; the mighty Redeemer and the eternal God. Were there only a proba." bility of that solemn world, it might be sufficient to make a reasonable creature indifferent from one so transitory and perishing as this ; but here it is not barely probability, it is certainty; and yet will you grasp at the passing shadows of this world, and neglect the endless realities of the other ! Now you say of a part of life, It is gone; yet you look forward and hope for other years to come; but what will be your state when looking backward, you must say, Time is gone; and looking forward, Eternity is come. O that awful, that dreadful eternity! How will it torment the murderers of time! how will it teach the thoughtless sinner, and the mere nominal Christian, their folly and their madness! In this world, the most wretched may look for ease from earthly misery in the hallowed rest of the grave; there, they may say, the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest. But when they enter that neglected eternity, oh, what a change will there be in this respect! As there no death alarms the happy, so no death relieves the miserable. On earth, sleep may afford the most miserable, intervals of ease; but there will be no sleeping in hell. The sufferer on the bed of distraction and pain often finds relief in the power of laudanum and opiates. O how often, when sitting by such a bed, have I thought, there will be no laudanum in the world of wretched spirits ! no medicines there to assuage the force of pain, or render the sufferer insensible of his state! All this too deserved by sin. And do you profess to believe the book which warns you of such danger, and shows you how to escape ? and yet do you slight that salvation? O what heads, what hearts, have they who, professing to believe these things, can trifle life away! You would start with horror at a proposition to murder yourself; can you, without hesitation, do ten times worse than murder your immortal soul ? by a careless, ungodly life, train it for destruction ;- fit it for hell ;--make it the eternal enemy of God ;-prepare it to be a suitable companion for devils; and eternally subject it to Satan's power! If you were in a room surrounded with armed enemies, and one were to enter with two lists in his hand, in one or the other of which the name of every person present would be found ; if all in one list
CONSIDER HIS WANT OF FAITH.
91 were devoted to death, consigned to the bayonets of the surrounding soldiers, and all in the other list sure of life and joy, how anxious would you be to know in which list your name stood ! especially if the dead list were the more numerous of the two! Yet here all your anxiety would be concerning a life, that must soon end by disease if saved from violence. But eternal life or eternal death is before you; and do you never think it worth while to inquire, Is my name written in the book of life? am I a candidate for glory ? have I fled to the Giver of life eternal, and found salvation in him? or does my name still stand in the list of those who are the slaves of sin, the children of wrath, and the heirs of hell? O my fellow-sinner! if you have hitherto professed to believe the Bible, and yet with the multitude neglected Jesus and salvation, learn more wisdom now. You cannot neglect this much longer, without neglecting it for ever. Be then what you profess to be, be not a hypocrite or a practical infidel, and you will be a Christian.
$ 6. But, perhaps, the eye that reads this page is an eye that sees no glory like that it sees in Christ; yet if you have reason to hope it is so, still it is needful often to commune with your own heart, often to examine your own condition. Try yourself, my friend; the Judge eternal will try us all. Try your every grace; hereafter all must be tried. And is your faith like that described in the precious Scriptures, as genuine and saving? is it the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen ? does it engage your heart powerfully and decidedly for God and Christ? does it lead you to act as seeing him who is invisible ? and though you see not God, to live, and pray, and persevere as if you saw him? Though the blessed Jesus is unseen by you, does faith lead you to trust him, and love him, and follow him ? so that it may be said, whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice; and whose word you hear with as much deference, as if you heard him speaking from heaven.
While the things that are seen would engage your heart, does faith lead you to look above them ? to choose a world you never saw, before that you daily see? to set your affections upon a heaven, of which by sight you never gained the slightest glimpse, in preference to the honours, and profits,