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SHEWS THAT TRUE FAITH IS NECESSARY TO MAKE
US EXPERIMENTALLY ACQUAINTED WITH THE PRECIOUSNESS OF CHRIST.
“ To you that believe," says Peter, “ Christ is precious.” This word, in the original, signifies honour, diguity, value ; and is applied to an object which excites reverence and esteem, attracts affection, and produces joy. And is not the full import of this term embodied in Christ? As the mighty King of Zion, “ in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, are not all men commanded to honour the Son even as they honour the Father?” Is he not justly called " the Consolation of Israel," and the desire of all nations ?" And does not He, as in all things “having the pre-eminence,” rightfully claim the throne of every heart, and merit a degree of love which admits no rival?
Yet it is true, that Christ is actually precious to none but those who believe. The connection there is between faith and the sweet enjoyment of ON THE NECESSITY OF TRUE FAITH. 19 an interest in Jesus, it will be necessary to state and illustrate.
1. Faith gives us those bright discoveries of the suitableness, excellency, and glory of Christ, which kindle the purest and warmest affection to him. Unbelief is a veil upon the heart, a blind which covers the eyes of the understanding. To this we must attribute the deplorable ignorance and fatal delusion of the ancient Jews. They had the light of God's word, and the benefit of his appointed ordinances, yet Christ was to them as a root out of dry ground, they could see no form or comeliness to make him desirable ; and he was therefore treated by them with the most marked contempt, and base ingratitude. Thus, through that blindness which happened to Israel in part, and which is traced by Paul to unbelief, the things that belonged to their peace were hid from their eyes. And are there not too many among nominal Christians in a similar state of darkness and self-delusion?
It is by faith, that we “ behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," and thus enjoy an interest in his rich and salutary benefits. The command of the Redeemer, joined with a most animating promise, runs in these words; “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” ]sa. xlv, 22. The language in this remarkable pasa sage has, probably, an allusion to the miraculous way in which the wounded Israelites received healing in the wilderness. As a punishment for their unnatural rebellion against God, they were bitten by the fiery flying serpents. The deadly venom began to spread rapid destruction through the camp. No balsamic herb in nature, no farfamed remedy of human discovery or application, could effect a cure. God then commanded Moses to form a brazen serpent, and elevate it in a conspicuous situation, that all who were wounded might look to it and live. To this our Lord refers, John iii, 14: 66 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Hence we may conclude, that faith is the eye of the soul, which firmly fixes upon a crucified Saviour, by whom alone we are rescued from perishing in our sins. Believing is earnestly and constantly looking unto Jesus.
Paul tells us, that “ Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It brings near the invisible world, unveils to the mind its grand and interesting scene, and impresses on the heart its solemn and momentous reality. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we attain, by the piercing glance of faith, those clear, realizing views of the Saviour, which at once enlighten and transform the soul. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” · Is it asked, why there are so many who live under this glorious dispensation of grace, sunk to the lowest degree of gross ignorance, and stupid insensibility? The inspired apostle shall give the answer. " But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." When this dark veil is removed, and the regenerate sinner sees Jesus in the glory of his person, as the fairest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely; in the importance of his work, as the author of eternal salvation; he resembles a man suddenly placed in a new world. His affections, which had been cleaving to poor perishable objects of time, now ascend with rapturous ardour to things above. Faith is, if I may so speak, the new sense which gives us these discoveries, and the lively transports which accompany them. Thus, Peter, speaking to the saints concerning Christ, says, “ Whom having not seen ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." To those who thue believe, Christ is precious.
2. It is by faith that we receive Christ, while we cordially embrace all the divine testimonies concerning him.
Thousands profess to receive the Scriptures as the word of God, who never spent an hour in examining their meaning, or seriously comparing one part with another, to discover their connection, harmony, and use. And yet these people would perhaps be grievously offended to be classed among unbelievers. The Jews of old were never more rigidly attached to the letter of their law, than when they were wholly estranged from the spirit of it. They prided themselves in being the disciples of Moses, yet our Lord told them plainly, they did not believe the writings of Moses. And why did they lie under so heavy a charge! Because, while they were busied and bewildered in a multitude of external ceremonies, they entirely overlooked the design of God in the Mosaic economy; which was to exhibit, by various shadows, the substance of far better things to come. " He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to