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Joyful hope will animate us with most lively gratitude. Advancing knowledge and matured experience will render our dependence more simple; and, receiving continually from the fulness of Christ the supply of all our wants, he will become more and more glorious in our eyes and precious to our hearts: while increasing sanctification, and abundant diligence in the work of the Lord, will enhance our sense of obligation, without in the least deducting from our simplicity of reliance on him as our "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemp"tion."-"We are crucified with Christ: never"theless we live; yet not we, but Christ liveth in .6 us and the life that we live in the flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us." 1
True faith has likewise respect to the "exceed"ing great and precious promises" of scripture. These are sure testimonies of God ratified by all the engagements of the new covenant, in the blood of the great Mediator; and the promised blessings belong to all true believers, and to them exclusively, though they cannot always perceive their own title to them.
The doctrines and promises of scripture relate very much to the person, offices, and influences of the Holy Spirit. If then we truly believe these divine testimonies, with application to our own wants, and perceive the value of these life-giving, illuminating, sanctifying, and comforting influences; we shall certainly depend on them continually. Thus we shall believe in the Holy Ghost,
Gal. ii. 20.
and honour him together with the Father and the Son, as the triune God of our salvation.
"Faith is" likewise "the evidence of things "not seen." It perceives the hand of God, and hears his voice, in all the varied events of providence; it realizes his holy, heart-searching, and gracious presence in all places; it penetrates invisible things; lays heaven and hell open to our view: contemplates the world of good and evil spirits with which we are surrounded; and looks forward to judgment and eternity, as just at hand. Thus, it supplies the want of sight and sense. "We "endure, as seeing him that is invisible." "We "look not at the things which are seen, but at the
things which are not seen." We set God before us in our daily conduct and conversation; we perceive his special presence with us in his sacred ordinances; we speak to him in prayer and praise; we hear his word of instruction and direction; we have "fellowship with the Father, and with his "Son Jesus Christ;" we "walk with God" by faith; we stand, we war, we run, we obey, and endure by faith: believing, we rely on God for strength, help, protection, support, and comfort according to his word; and thus are emboldened and enabled to face danger, resist temptation, renounce the world, bear the sharpest sufferings, and persevere in the hardest services, to which we can be called.1
It is evident that faith alone can answer these purposes; and that no other grace of Christianity, however excellent and necessary, can supply its
place. Faith alone can appropriate the instructions of scripture; form our relation to Christ, that we may be "made the righteousness of God in "him :" seek supplies of every blessing from his fulness; rely on the faithfulness of God for the performance of his promises; supply the want of sight, and give nearness and certainty to invisible and eternal things.-But it is also evident that an assent to certain historical facts, or a system of inactive notions, or a groundless confidence of the divine favour, cannot be the faith of which such things are spoken. For this is a living and operative principle: it calls forth fear, hope, desire, aversion, love, gratitude and every other affection of the soul, into most vigorous and abiding exercise; and by their combined or varied energies overcomes the world, the flesh, and the devil, fights a good fight, and obtains a most honourable victory.
We proceed next to consider the peculiar nature, exercise and use of hope.
Hope is the expectation of future good, real or supposed. We may believe and expect what we dread and would escape: we may desire, what we despair of obtaining: but we hope for those things alone, which we desire and in some measure expect. In one form or other it is the chief solace of human life: no man is happy at present; but all hope for happiness, and pursue it according to their different notions. The hope and pursuit afford some pleasure, and keep the mind from preying on itself: but disappointment is certain to all who seek happiness in worldly things, whether
they be prosperous or unsuccessful.-There is also a religious hope, which is no less delusive, and even more certainly fatal; because the mistake is not discovered till it is too late to make a wiser choice. A warranted hope of happiness in the favour of our God is, however, secure from disappointment: and ensures present support and everlasting felicity.The apostle exhorts us to "be ready always to give "an answer to every man that asketh us a reason "of the hope that is in us." But while almost all we meet avow a hope of being saved, there are very few, that are able to give a solid reason for this hope and if it be unreasonable it must be presumptuous. The sinner who warrantably hopes for everlasting felicity, and for various blessings in this present world, could assign such reasons as follow, for the hope that is in him; if he possessed the gift of utterance, and could orderly arrange his thoughts. The scriptures.' he would say, 'have 'been proved to be the word of God, and I am sa'tisfied on that head. They reveal the just and 'holy God, as merciful and gracious, forgiving 'sin and saving sinners, through his beloved Son, 'whom he hath set forth to be a propitiatory sacrifice, and who" is able to save to the uttermost all 'them that come to God by him, seeing he ever 'liveth to make intercession for them." This di'vine Saviour invites all that will come to him, and adds, "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no 'wise cast out." I know myself to be a vile sin'ner, and I repent in dust and ashes. I am con'scious that I renounce all other pleas, own the
' 1 Pet. iii. 15, 16.
'justice of God in my condemnation, and sue only 'for mercy through Emmanuel's blood; " My 'soul longeth for God's salvation, and I hope in 'his word;" I desire to be made willing to part ' with all for Christ; and I pray for true faith, and stronger faith. I perceive something of the 'nature and glory of God's way of saving sinners, ' and I approve of it as worthy of him and suitable to men; and I long to see and admire the dis'plays of his glory more and more. I trust I have experienced in some degree that change of heart, 'that new creation, which the scriptures describe as accompanying salvation. My desires, conflicts, fears, sorrows, comforts, and state of mind coin'cide with what I read in the word of God con
cerning his believing people in former ages. I 'trust I do feel some measure of contrition, re
verence, and love of God, love of Christ and his people, and other affections, to which I once was wholly a stranger; and it is my grief and burden, ' that I feel them no more, and am harassed by so many things contrary to the best desires of my heart. I long to serve the Lord with fervent ' zeal: "I delight in the law of God after the in'ward man: but I feel another law,-warring
against this law of my mind. I cannot do the 'things that I would:" and were it not for the 6 mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus, this would 'make me most completely wretched. But I trust I do believe in him, and am interested in the promises made by him: thus I wait for increas'ing sanctification; and at length expect perfect 'holiness and happiness according to that ever'lasting covenant, which God hath "confirmed