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assured and daily increasing wrath of God, as we have peace with him through Jesus Christ, or have no peace at all, and shall have none for ever, and our state is only the more hopeless, for our being so fatally blind to it,—so I must strive to lay before you, in some future sermons, the nature and uses of Christian Faith; hoping and praying that the attempt may be blessed by the Spirit of God to your benefit, and that it may not be to me a double condemnation, if, while I speak of it to others, I have it not practically for my own soul's deliverance.
1 JOHN v. 4, 5.
This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?
I SPOKE in my sermon last Sunday of Faith in its more general sense: first, of faith as exercised by a child towards his parents ; and, afterwards, of religious faith, according to that description of it in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he says, “ that he who cometh
" to God, must first believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him.” I then proposed to speak more particularly of Christian faith, and to show how this was the most perfect kind of all, and most powerful to give us the victory over all temptations. And it is this part of the subject which I must now endeavour to lay before you as clearly as I am able.
We must remember how faith was described to be a preferring some future and unseen good to a present and visible one, on the authority of some one whom we had reason to think good and wise. And we must remember also that religious faith consisted in preferring future to present good things, on the authority of God himself; that is, of One who is perfectly wise and good. That is to say, we may suppose a man influenced by religious faith to say thus to himself: “I know that the present temptation is very strong; but then I have the promise of God, who cannot lie, that, to serve him faithfully, will be better for me than any thing else in the world; and trusting to his word, I will forego the present pleasure, in the hope of that future blessing which he promises.” It is plain that this faith or trust in God rests upon our belief of his goodness, wisdom, and power, however we may have gained our knowledge of these attributes; and it will be readily seen, that in proportion as our impression of God's perfections is more lively, so will our readiness to trust to him entirely be stronger, and more unhesitating. This is no more than we see at once to be the case in our human relations. It may be that a child who has never seen his father, may be very desirous to obey him, and to trust to his instructions, because he knows that he is his father, and has a general impression of his kindness and wisdom; but it is clear that he would obey him much more readily, and rely upon his counsels much more fully, if he had a close personal knowledge of him, and had seen and experienced the excellencies of his character in a variety of particular instances.
Christian faith, then, has this advantage over simple religious faith, in the more general sense of the word, that, having obtained clearer and fuller notions of God's perfections, it is rendered stronger and more triumphant over temptations. “ Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” Even they who do believe this, find the world sufficiently dangerous, and the victory sufficiently difficult; but they who have not this faith find the victory more than difficult -- it is altogether impossible. And they who have it in word only, or in whom it only exercises its power occasionally, will, practically, derive no greater benefit from it than those who have it not at all.
Now Christian faith, or the faith that Jesus is the Son of God, gives us so much clearer and fuller notions of God, that it makes us know both him and ourselves, and love him, far better than we could do without it. We had a general notion, by mere religious faith, that God was a holy God, and that he must judge far differently of sin from the judgment that we are accustomed to pass on it. But Christian faith makes us say to ourselves, “ I see now how very much God must abhor sin, since, without the precious blood of his own Son, there could be no remission for it.” Again, natural religion tells us that God is merciful; but Christian faith makes us say, “ How can I be thankful enough to the infinite goodness of God, since he has given his only-begotten Son to die for me?” Again, natural religion teaches us to think humbly of ourselves, and to look to God for strength to help us. But the Christian says, “ If the only-begotten Son of God has died for me, it is clear that my own deeds could do nothing for me in God's judgment, it is clear that they are too worthless to weigh a hair in the scale, when put with the infinite value of Christ's sacrifice. And if Christ has obtained for me, by his death and rising again,