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reception of certain truths, which, in our present state of being, are entirely the objects of faith, and to all that influence upon the moral feelings and the character which these must produce upon every mind that really believes them.
NATURE AND PROVINCE OF FAITH.
Let us take the illustration of a man affected with a disease supposed to be mortal: he is told that a remedy has been discovered of infallible efficacy ; and that a person is at hand who is ready to administer it. Does he perceive his danger; does he believe the virtue of the remedy ; does he confide in the sincerity of the individual who offers it: this is faith. The immediate and natural result of his faith is, that he asks for the remedy which is offered ; and this result is inseparable from such belief, according to the uniform sequence of volitions in every sound mind. The man who professes to admit the facts, and does not show such a result of belief, professes what he does not actually feel. If he perceives not the extent of his danger, he asks not the remedy, because he values it not; and the same effect may follow if he doubts either its efficacy or the sincerity of him who offers it. In this case, it is also to be observed, that a reflection is thrown upon the character of this individual, by imput ing to him an offer of what he has either not the power or the intention to perform. But if the man really believes the truths, he applies for the remedy; and he receives it. Thus his faith saves him ; because by means of it he sought the offered aid. Could we suppose him merely to admit the facts, without asking the remedy, his belief would avail him nothing.
Such appears to be the simple view we are to take of Faith, when we apply it to the great benefits which are presented to us in the Christian revelation. This is addressed to us as beings in a state both of guilt and of depravity ; and as having no means of our own by which we can rescue ourselves from condemnation and impurity. It unfolds a dispensation of peace, by which, in perfect consistency with the harmony of his character, the Deity offers mercy and forgiveness,—and an influence from himself which has power to purify the moral being. These benefits are conferred on every one who believes; the man who is convinced of his guilt and perceives his impurity; who feels his inability to rescue himself; who admits the efficacy of the remedy, and confides in the sincerity with which it is offered ; this is he who believes. His faith saves him; because, acting on his conviction, according to the uniform sequence of volitions in every sound mind,-he asks the promised aid, and asking, receives it. Much of the confusion in which the subject has been involved appears to have arisen from metaphysical refinements in which the various parts of this mental process are separated from each other. They form one harmonious whole, which cannot be broken. The man will not seek the remedy who believes not its efficacy, and perceives not his moral necessities; but, however he may profess to admit these facts, if he follows not out his belief to its natural result in applying for the remedy, his mere belief will not profit him. The grounds on which these truths are addressed to us are contained in that chain of evidence on which is founded the whole system of Christianity,—taken along with the conviction which every man receives of his actual moral condition, from the voice of conscience within. The sincerity of the offer we derive from our impression of the unchangeable attributes of the Deity. Accordingly, he who believes is said to give glory to God,—that is, to receive his statements with absolute confidence, and to form an honourable conception of the sincerity of his intentions. He who believes not rejects the statements of the Almighty as false,and treats him with the contempt which we apply to one whom we suppose to promise what he has no intention to bestow. The man who comes to God with the hope of acceptance is therefore required to come in the assurance of faith,
,-or an implícit conviction that he is sincere in his intentions of bestowing the blessings which he offers; and whosoever hath not this assurance does dishonour to the divine character, ør “ maketh God a liar.”
ALLIES OF RELIGION.
There are a thousand allies of religion in the many aspects of nature, to the heart which education grants not wholly to the avocations of life, but opens to the remote relations of things, and the hour of musing. Whether we come to the ever-sounding sea ; or bend on the high thunder-smitten hills; or go down into the dim-sounding and peopled forest, where the lion stands distinct but in twilight by the tusky roots of the immemorial tree; or whether, when evening hath wept her cold and tearful dews, and darkness composes the hushed and decent earth, we watch the well-ordered stars coming forth, multitudes, ten-thousand-fold in beauty, that stud the dim hangings of the night ;-0! there is a voice in them all, and man is made little by the things of the universe, that Christianity may find him humble, yet in love with greatness, and glad at her alonē way to be exalted. The disciplined spirit of a man goes beyond the first appearances of things; and if Christianity sharpen his native apprehension of their relations, he sees over all the world a spirit and interest, as really above the mere pictures of common observation, as the warm and animated beauty of life, that claims a thousand moral affections, is above the dumb and bloodless beauty of a statue.
A GOOD DIRECTION. To obtain the aid of the Spirit, it is expressly given as a rule, in Scripture, to pray for it; “If ye being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask it.” To have His continued operation in our hearts towards ultimate perfection, the rule is equally distinct in its parts,—not to grieve the Holy Spirit ;-not to do despite to it; to walk after the Spirit ;-to be led by it; and in the duties which these imply, to have so much, that more may be given us.
Prayer is the first rule of our sanctification : while we honour God over all, by our submis. sion; and Christ,—that for his sake, and in his name, is our supplication; and the Great Spirit that can give us at once the love of God without any prior fear,—by our earnestness for his aid,— aware of our own frailty, and His eternal power and office graciously assumed to raise our hearts to those heavenly things after which it is the glory of man to aspire ;—the influence of this exercise is doubly in our favour; sanctifying us even while it engages the sanctifying Spirit; raising us above earthly affections, while it asks so to be renovated; and mingling deep resolutions of amendment with every confession of frailty, and every supplication for the aid of Heaven. In him who ceases not to invoke the Spirit, his devotion becomes a sublimity of thought and purpose ; and his heart in humility, is yet gradually raised in devotedness of determined and noble aim; and this is the fine obedience that grows from both,-"Here am I, Lord, send me.”
To grow in the divine life by the continuance of the same aid, we must be led by the Spirit, and again entreat his assistance; giving scrupulous attention to every motion of conscience, His organ; never banishing, but seeking to renew every feeling of devotion,-in the faith, that, in so endeavouring, we give occasion to that mighty Operator who works when we work, who supersedes not, but co-operates with ourselves.
SELF-EXAMINATION. Did a man accustom himself each night, before addressing himself to sleep, strictly to review the conduct of the day, his thoughts, his words, his actions, wherein at fault and wherein worthy