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case of desertion, when our Lord hides himself. Our Lord Jesus went before us as a pattern in this, My God, my God; why hast thou forsaken me? To put a my to a forsaking Gode is brave believing. Our Lord's case, I know, is altogether singular, but many believers have had some measure of his Spirit in using that word in their own case. When a man walks in darkness, and has no light, what shall he do then ? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God; Isa. I. 10. If a man forbear trusting in the Lord, till darkness be scattered, and light come, and if he says it is time enough for me to believe, when God lights the candle ; no, says the Spirit of God, When he walks in darkness, and hath no light, let him then trust in the name of the Lord.
3dly, In the case of temptation, (I name these things which are so common, that, in truth believers lives are spent about them), temptations from Satan. Sirs, if Christians were wise, they would learn, if I may so speak, of the devil; the more the Lord loves us, the more the devil hates us; and the more the devil hates us, the more we should love the Lord.
As soon as a Christian gets faith, the devil falls upon him; and when the devil falls upon him, he should believe the more. The time was, saith a believer, when he let me alone ; what makes this great change, that he is turned to a roaring lion? It is because I left his camp, and turned to another master. Faith is especially to be acted in temptation, and victory over temptation is by faith. When our Lord said to Peter, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; our Lord adds, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and if thy faith do not fail, the devil will get the worst of the bargain, Luke xxii. 32. The apostle puts a special mark upon this piece of the Christian armour : Above all, says he, taking the shield of faith, wherewith
shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, Eph. vi. 16. That above all does not only point forth the eminent use of faith, in the warfare of faith, but it seems to set forth the exçellency of a Christian's armour in this matter. When Satan and a poor Christian engage together, the devil would first have the shield of faith laid down, and then he would be too hard for any of the children of God, for commonly one temp:
tation comes not alone. Now thou art put upon examining and trying whether thou hast any faith. Question all, doubt all, says the devil, and let us argue upon the point. But if you enter with the devil upon these terms, he will certainly be too hard for you ; lay down the conclusion of faith firmly, and tell the devil, I have entrusted my soul with Christ Jesus, what hast thou to say to that? will he fail me or no ? If thou speakest any evil of my Lord, thou speakest like the devil, and I do not regard thee; but if thou speak evil of me, I will believe thee, and can speak of it myself, and tell it to my Lord, Psal. xlii. 5, 6. The question that we are to propose in the warfare of faith with the devil, is, Is God true or no? If he be true in his promises, I will believe them, and believe none that contradict them, and in all my adversities will I take the shield of faith. See Eph. vi. 18. and Psalm xci. 4.
4thủy, In the case of manifold delays and disappointments, as to the performance of pleaded promises ; in this case, I say, you are still to believe. If though you have taken the promise, though you have believed it, though you have prayed upon it, though you have been looking out and waiting for the fulfilment of it, still delays come in the way, believe still. The Lord in his wisdom has reserved times and seasons for our mercies, and for his fulfilling his word, all to himself. He hath told his people what he will do for them, but he hath not told them when. Though he made a great promise to Abraham, yet he did not tell him when he would perform it; that great believer must wait twenty-five years from the promise, till the performance came, yet no doubt he believed the promise every day.
5thly, In cases of challenges of conscience for sin. Believers must learn to exercise their faith upon this faithfulness of God, in the view and in the face of challenges of conscience for sin. Iniquities prevail against me, says the psalmist, Psalm lxv. 3. What could a man say after this ? What could you expect should be the next word? Must it not be, And therefore wrath shall come upon me? No such thing: As for our transgressions, thou sholt purge them away. If thou,
, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared, Psalm
cx.xx. 3, 4. Our consciences are sometimes disturbed with challenges for old sins long since committed, which, according to a similitude that a holy saint of God gives us in his letters, like the ghost of a dead friend, continually haunt 15. An old subdued, pardoned sin, may fright one terribly; we have great need, if I may'so speak, of strong faith, to converse without fear with this ghost, the ghost of an old transgression. A sin that is twenty years old may appear as formidable as the devil himself; but if we do not learn to believe and maintain confidence of faith, notwithstanding challenges for sin, who can believe at all ?
Lastly, In case of God's calling us unto any special piece of service, some special piece of hard, singular work, that we were never called to before; in this case faith is to be exercised, for help in time of need shall be given us; if the service be required of you, the assistance for it shall be given to you; really the faith of Christians is tried greatly with the change of work that God puts in their hands. They think they have some tolerable measure of faith for their daily and usual work; but if God call them to that they never acted before, ļo some new singular piece of work, then believing is specially called for, to help out in this time of need; as we are to crave help in all times of need, so we are to crave special help in times of special need; I named these six, as being those in which the life of Christians is mainly spent. Take away
the Christian's afflictions and desertions, his temptations, challenges of conscience, delays in promises, and special turns of God's hand towards him, and pray what is left in a Christian's life, that is so difficult? And since our life is spent about these things, we must live by faith, we are to exercise faith in and about all those things, that our life is mainly spent in; how blessed a thing is it for a believer to go on towards heaven, and in every step of the way to be able to say, Though God hath changed his way towards me many times, though he hath brought me into many by-paths, yet, blessed be his name, there was never a path I was in, but I believed in him, and if it were an evil one, I hoped to be delivered out of it; but if a good one, I believed it would advance me towards heay.n, I believed and praised; and in every
one I believed it would turn to my salvation. I knew they would bring me nearer to God; that they would at last bring me to heaven, where I hope eternally to bless him for them!
HEBREWS X. 23.
For he is faithful that promised. FROM these words I have spoke unto three doctrines, and they having been again and again repeated unto you, you may easily remember them; 1. That the Christian's God is a promising God. 2. That this promising God is faithful in all his promises. And, 3. That the faith of believers should answer the faithfulness of God in the promises. I referred the main application of the whole doctrine unto this last head, in laying the duty before you that this truth does exact and crave
I named three things, wherein our faith should answer the faithfulness of God, and have already spoke unto two of them.
The first was, That our faith should answer the faithfulness of God, in the grand general promise of salvation by Christ Jesus. This is that faith that the word calls so much for ; it calls for it from unbelievers; and this call is God's appointed means for working the faith that it calls for; faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; the word of God tells us what we should believe, and the word of God, in the name of God, commands us to believe what God says. This I did insist sometime upon. I know there are some who think it needless to press people to believe, and to put forth faith; at first a great many poor creatures think it an easy thing to believe, whereas it is a hard matter to awaken the conscience; but when the conscience is awakened, they think it an easy matter to believe, but they only think so that never knew what an awakened conscience was; let a
poor sinner see nothing before him but hell, and nothing within him but what deserves hell, it is only the wonderful power of God that can make this sinner trust Christ upon a bare word for his eternal salvation. Believing and trusting the soul on Christ Jesus is found a mighty difficulty by all them that are concerned about their salvation. Some think this answering of God's promise in the gospel, improper to be laid before sinners at first; these people imagine, that there is something that sinners should be called to before believing. Bat as long as these two principles of truth remain, and remain they will, as long as the world lasts, this is always a vain objection: First, That no man can do any good, nor get any good, but in and from Christ Jesus, Secondly, That no man can do any good with Christ, nur gec any good from him, but in the way of believing: and if so, will our Lord give his help to them that will not give trust to him?
The second thing I was last day exhorting you to, was this, To answer the faithfulness of God in believing for all covenant-blessings by the way. This is properly the life of faith, and a great work this is to believe, as large as the whole covenant: to believe as firmly, as the promises are firm; to believe as long as until the promises turn to performances, how much of divine power is needful for this work! Justly does the apostle call the work of faith a work of faith with power, 2 Thess. i. 11.; in which not only power is put forth by the creature that acts it, but there is power put forth by God to draw it forth, and to keep it up. Of this I spake last day
The third exhortation that remains to be handled, and that I shall insist on, if the Lord will, a little more, is, That believers should answer the faithfulness of God in the promise of eternal life, by believing the prize and hope of our calling, as the apostle calls it. The Spirit of God calls this eternal life, the promise, as if all were contained in it; 1 John ii. 25. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. Faith in this case that I am to speak of, is faith which entereth into that within the veil, as the apostle saith of hope, Heb. vi. 19. I am now to direct this exhortation unto them that have some