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Gives exercise to faith and love,
Restraining pray'r, we cease to fight;
Have you no words? Ah! think again :
Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
Your cheerful song would oft'ner be,
"Hear what the Lord hath done for me."
Christian must not only pray, but he must also believe in Him to whom he prays; for "without faith it is impossible to please God: he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him." Heb. xi. 6.
If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not; but let him ask in faith. James i. 6.
This, also, will be a working grace: here is something for Chris tian to do. Faith is a key put into his band: the door stands before him; John x. 9. to this door he is invited to come; Matt. xi. 28, &c. and in the very manner which has been laid down in the two preceding articles. This key, when rightly turned, will open to his view all the mysteries of this world and of the world to come; all the mysteries of revelation; all the invisible things of God; yea, all those glorious realities, which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man to conceive."
Here, again, we fall upon the question; namely, how far man iş active, or in what sense he has the power of believing.
That man naturally possesses the faculty of believing certain things, upon proper evidence, and of disbelieving others, few persons will dispute. For instance: in the case of a jury. The judge lays down the law; the evidence on both sides the case is then produced, and as it affects the judgment or reason of the jury, so they believe or disbelieve it, and give their verdict accordingly.
Thus far man has a natural power of believing.
Now although the soul, in conversion, undergoes a moral change, yet the mental faculties still remain the same, considered in themselves: the will is turned, but not fettered; it is still free to choose or to refuse; the power to believe or disbelieve certain occurrences, remains the same; his reasoning powers are the same; consequently we find the language of scripture addressed to man as a being possessing those powers and faculties—of reasoning, of choosing and refusing, of believing or disbelieving; and not as to a slave or a machine; as may be clearly seen from the following passages:
He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark xvi. 16.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, might not perish, but have everlasting life.
He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. John iii. 14-19, 36.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Verily verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life. John vi. 35, 40, 47.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John vii. 38.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. Be lievest thou this? John xi. 25, 26.
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Rom. x. 9, 10, 11, 13, 14.
So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom. x. 17.
From the multitude of authors, who have written upon this subject, we have selected the following:
This is the great and momentous word in Scripture, which hath given rise to endless disputes, and employed the minds of men in all ages to explain: and yet to thousands still remains as obscure But notwithstanding all that the bewildered and erroneous mind of man may say on faith, the scriptural account of faith is the simplest and plainest thing in the world. Faith is no more than the sincere and hearty assent and consent of the mind to the belief of the being and promises of God, as especially revealed to the Church in the person and redemption-work of the Lord Jesus
The hearty, cordial, and sincere belief in these blessed truths of God, is called faith; because it is giving credit to the testimony of God, and relying upon his faithfulness for the fulfilment of them. The Apostle John, in his first Epistle, fifth chapter, and ninth and following verses, puts this doctrine in so clear a point of view, that under divine teaching, if attended to, it would be impossible to mistake it. "If we receive (saith John) the witness of men, the witness of God is greater, for this is the witness of God, which he bath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself. He that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life."
No form of words could have been more happily chosen to state what is the act of faith, and to put it in a clear and full light,
Dr. Hawker. The vitality of saving faith depends on the agency by which it is produced. A false faith, however specious in appearance, however subtle and refined in its exhibition, can lay no claim to a divine origin. Arising out of human persuasion, or self-interest, or educational habit, or temporary impression, it possesses no vitality. On the other hand, the faith of the gospel is the work of divine power. "It is given us on the behalf of Christ to believe." Phil. i. 29. "By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Eph. ii 8. It is this faith alone which unites to Christ, which subdues the corruptions of the beart, which gives birth to the principle of holy love, which carries its possessor above the spirit of the world, and awakens unreserved obedience to the divine commandments.
And let me solemnly remind you, that no abstract reasonings on the nature of saving faith, however clear and consistent, however in unison with the representations of scripture, will afford a clue, by which to determine its existence in individual character. If a man does not breathe holiness;-if sanctity of manners does not, if I may so speak, circulate through his whole moral constitution;—
if his lips do not move to the praise and glory of God; it is a matter of trifling moment, however scriptural his creed; and the unerring Physician of souls, doubtless, pronounces his faith to be dead. A cold, calculating speculation may exist in the mind, without any holy energy or activity of character; but that faith, which brings a man into close contact with the fountain of spiritual life, which unites to the Son of God, will ever possess the two-fold character, of aiming at the glory of God, and the good of man.
That faith, by whatever name it may be called, which stands disconnected from a holy life, will, if not abandoned, plunge its possessor to the lowest hell! and, terrible to relate! may be the means of conducting multitudes, by its false light, to the regions of eternal despair! Of all the characters that take shelter in the bosom of society, none are so guilty, none so much to be shunned and abhorred, as those, who, exalting themselves to the pinnacle of Christian privilege, at the same time live in all the degradation of vice, and turn the grace of God into licentiousness.
The human heart is, by nature, a tainted fountain, and all the streams which flow from it partake of its corrupt qualities. When faith takes possession of the heart, it operates a divine change; the fountain is purified, and a holy conversation begins to issue from it. Is this the effect of faith on us? Has it cured the vices of the mind? Has it banished the predominant depravity of the affec tions? Has it made us temperate, just, and useful members of society? Has it constituted us good fathers, good husbands, good masters? and, in short, has it induced us to comply with the golden rule-❝ Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye
even so to them?" These are the effects of a living
when we recollect the glorious objects upon which it terminates, we need not wonder that it should new-model all the soul, and produce a holy and heavenly conversation.
And what is faith, love, virtue unassay'd,
Alone, without exterior help sustained
Hear St. Paul's account of faith, and take the matter in his own
"Made wise to salvation by faith-Become children of God by