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not shall be damned; "and proud, blind, besotted men presume to decide that it is an unimportant question what a man's faith may be, or whether he has any. Surely brethren, it is clear that if God tells me that certain statements of his word contain essential truths, and that I must believe them or perish, if I do not believe them, and yet promise myself that all is well, I do in the most daring manner set myself in opposition to God.
It is evident, then, that “ without faith it is impossible to please God,” inasmuch as where there is not a right faith, there is nothing right, nothing acceptable to God, so far from it, there is, in point of fact, a positive and direct contradiction given to his word, and of necessity a most grievous and criminal insult offered to his holy name.
Then, now do any ask what is the course for them to take? They would wish to please God, and they hear that in order to this they must have faith : but, say they, how is this faith to be attained ? I would answer them briefly thus : two things are to be done, and done together. God's word is to be read and heard with seriousness, devoutness, and constancy, in order that you may know the things to be believed ; and then, God's Holy Spirit is to be sought in earnest, fervent, unceasing prayer, that so the things to be believed may be realized effectually within your hearts, and be made to operate practically on your lives.
Dear brethren, if you are sincere in religion,
do indeed desire to please God, this is what you are doing now. Yes, day by day you take your bibles, and read with attentiveness, deliberation, and care, some portion of them. You “search the Scriptures.” From time to time you also come to hear the word of God read and expounded in his house. Your hearts are set on learning his truth. But at the same time you feel that, however you might by reading and hearing gain much knowledge in your understandings, you want more than this. You see that knowledge is not faith. You wish to feel the truth.
You would have it affect your hearts. You would have it guide your lives. You would have such faith as brings experience with it, produces holiness, and issues in salvation. And therefore, for this you lift up your souls in earnest supplication to the Holy Spirit : ' Lord, teach me: lead me into truth : bring it home to my heart : enlighten, purify, comfort, sanctify me by the power of that truth.'
So you pray, Beloved brethren, are you thus seeking faith? If so, we thank God for you. The blessing is already in some measure vouchsafed. It shall be increased. Be encouraged.
- Follow on to know the Lord.” Still use the means for advancing in understanding and in grace. Keep to the word of God. Daily meditate therein, and ever as you do so, ask for more light, and more power, to see and to receive all that God reveals. The Lord will surely
" fulfil in you all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.”
But there are among you those who can say, with gratitude and joy, that it is thus with them already. They have believed. They know it. They feel conscious of their faith. And they trace its
power, and enjoy its comfort. It does substantiate to their souls the things unseen. An unseen God and Saviour : an unseen faithful friend their Comforter : an unseen hand directing all their ways : an unseen heaven, their eternal home : these things are their principles of life and action: they walk by faith : they “ look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.” They “endure,” like Moses, “ seeing Him that is invisible."
Believers, be your daily prayer still for increase in this faith: seek still the strengthening of this blessed principle within you. Remember, it is your life. It is that thing on which all else in your spiritual character, comfort, and godly walk depends, for it is that by which you appropriate for your peace, your consolation, and your holiness, all the truths, and all the promises, of the word of your God.
Increase of faith then,-for this should be your prayer. Increase of faith, let this be the end of all your reading, and all your hearing of heavenly truth. And so, “ building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.'
GALATIANS III. 21, 22.
Is THE LAW THEN AGAINST THE PROMISES OF God? GOD
FORBID, FOR IF THERE HAD BEEN A LAW GIVEN, WHICH COULD HAVE GIVEN LIFE, VERILY RIGHTEOUSNESS SHOULD HAVE BEEN BY THE LAW.
BUT THE SCRIPTURE HATH CONCLUDED ALL UNDER SIN, THAT THE PROMISE BY FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST MIGHT BE GIVEN TO THEM THAT BELIEVE.
This text is one that claims' our most serious attention. It touches on that all important point, the way of man's salvation. It touches also on one of the most dangerous of mistakes into which men fall respecting their salvation. Let us then give it our most serious consideration : and may the Lord instruct us in his truth.
The text opens with a question, “Is the law against the promises of God ?" To understand the meaning of that question we must bear in mind what St. Paul had been shewing. He had been shewing this fact, that the gospel, which he preached, was founded on the very principle which, so long ago as Abraham's days, Almighty God had laid down, as the rule for man's acceptance with Him, the way for man to find righteousness with God.
That way, the Apostle contends, was not by
the merit of any works to be done, but simply in the exercise of a certain faith prescribed.
How was it with Abraham ? He was required to credit certain promises which God was pleased to give him. He did so, and was blest. "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” It was by believing what God had said, not by the merit of any thing which he did, that Abraham found favour with God. And so, the Apostle argued, it was still ; “know ye,” said he, “ that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham : and again,—" they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham.” In other words they, and they only, should be heirs of Abraham's happiness, and be like him accepted with God, who believed, even as he did, the word of God. Now this was the gospel. • He that believeth shall be saved." Therefore saith St. Paul, “ the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, " in thee shall nations be blessed.” God would justify the heathen through faith ; that is, in after ages God would have a people out of heathen nations, as well as from the Jews, brought to salvation : and this through faith, that is, by believing simply his promises in Jesus Christ. So should they be justified, accepted, saved. They should be blest as Abraham was.
Hence, in fact, it was none other than the dispensation of the gospel that was preached to Abraham, when it was said to him, “In thee