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and true witness."
." And it is RIGHT it should be so. For faith, or the cordial believing of what God says, is most reasonable. We have capacities of mind, to perceive the truth of what He testifies, and of heart, to feel its impressiveness. His testimony is emblazoned with the most convincing evidence of truth, and nothing but the most unjustifiable, and bitter prejudice, and dislike of God, prevent the mind from perceiving it. If, therefore, a veracious friend or neighbor feels, that he has a right to expect and demand our confidence, when he speaks, how much more reasonably must God do so? Could He speak to us, and leave it optional whether to believe or not, so that with impunity we might refuse, it would be an impeachment of Himself, and a virtual declaration, that He is not worthy of our confidence. It is true, that in the exercise of our minds in the perception and belief of truth, we act voluntarily; but when the evidence is sufficient--when the person speaking is a true and competent witness, and his communications clear and intelligible-we are morally bound to believe Him. such obligations, in reference to God, we can never be released in heaven, earth or hell. They will follow us to the utmost verge of creation. Nor can we ever escape from them, as long as we have intellectual capacities sufficient to attend to, and believe another.
“If I say the truth,” said the blessed Saviour, "why do ye not believe me?" Impenitent reader, say why? You know full well, that when your neighbor, whom you believe to be a man of truth, speaks to you, you readily give your assent to and repose in his statements. Indeed, if your mind does not labor under the influence of prejudice against him, you find it morally impossible not to believe what he testifies he has seen and does know, though you have neither seen nor known it. But on the other hand, if you know him to be false, and hypocritical, and not worthy of confidence, and your hearts are prejudiced
2 Joliu viii. 46.
1 Rs. iii. 14.
against Him, scarcely will his asseveration and oaths induce your belief. You cannot, it is morally impossible for you to believe the man, whom you think does not, speak the truth. Here lies the grand difficulty in the way of your believing God. You believe Him to be a liar. You think that what He says, in His word, is not true, and in this practical influential conviction, with respect to. the character of God, which saps the very foundation of all confidence in Him, you are sustained, and confirmed, by your wishes that it may be so, your love of sin, and your dislike of God. You would rather believe, that God falsifies His word, and violates His pledges, and perjures his soul;-yea, and that Jesus, notwithstanding Ile has died to save us, is destitute of mercy, and the devil worthy of greater confidence than eilher! In short, any thing and every thing sooner, than that it is true, that you must go. down to Hell unless you repent. Your difficulties are all of your own creating. You put from you the word of eternal life, and judge yourself unworthy of it. Oh poor suicide, “Who shall have pity upon thee? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?" "You have beheld the Lord, and said it is not He, neither shall evil come upon me." But you shall know that He
2 is Jehovah when IIe shall lay His vengeance upon you”— and that it is true, all true, most true, unalterably and eternally true, what God hath said, that "the wicked shall be turned into Hell,” and she that believeth not shall be damned."4
We have taken a very brief and general view of faith; but every reader must perceive, that while its essential character as the cordial belief of the word of some faith-ful witness, remains the same, its specific influence, and the manner in which it will affect the sensibilities, and the acts of the man, depend upon the character of the truth, 1 Jer. xv. 5. 2 Jer. v. 12. 3 Zeki sxv. 17. 4 Mark xvi. 16.
or objects, brought into view in the testimony, and apprehended by the mind. In all this, we do not perceive any thing like a cause per se, or what is called a principle of faith, which is the original of faith, but are directed to the immediate and special agency of the Holy Spirit, as He operates through the truth upon our constitutional susceptibilities, and elicits them in the cordial belief of that truth, and embracing of the objects presented.
Hope, too, possesses the same general character. It is the expectation of some future good desired, the attainment of which is deemed possible. We do not hope for what we see. Nor for what we deem to be impossible. As long as the sinner thinks it is impossible for him to be pardoned, he can have no hope. But if he believes, the professions which God makes as to His willingness to forgive, and the promises in which He holds forth an abundant supply of grace for every time of need, he confidently expects, that, in due season, these things will be forthcoming, according to the very tenor of the promise. This
It springs from faith, and looks far into the vista of eternity. The christian's hope is not the illusion of a distempered fancy, It is the lofty elevation of the rational soul, borne upward by a faith which gives to the mind all the evidence and certainty of demonstration. It substantiates the realities of the spiritual and eternal state, and rises superior to all the sophistry and deceits of a changing and perishing world.
'Tis Heaven, all Heaven, descending on the wings
'Tis God Himself triumphant in the heart. The grand and prominent object of the christian's hope is the blessed Redeemer; and thence He is Himself called “our hope.” The enjoyment of His society, the vision of His glory, a perfect assimilation to His character, a
crown of glory from His hand, a seat upon His throneand an eternity of honour and bliss and ineffable delight in His communion, are the objects towards which the chris tian's hope is directed, which here elicit his most enlarged and gladdening anticipations, and to which he shall, as certainly attain, as there is a God who cannot lic.
Hope with uplifted! foot set free from carti,
With wreaths like those triumphant spirits wear. An hope so lofty, and so aspiring, and whose anticipations are so pure, cannot fail to exert a purifying influence on the heart and conduct, and to stay the soul, in the midst of those rude tempests of distress, which are wont to lash and agitate the ocean of life. "He that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself as God is pure." It cannot be that he should degrade himself by hopes that rest on earth. His hope is near akin to the very fruition of God. It here affords a taste of joys celestial, and is itself the antepast of heaven.
".For God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise, the immutability of his counsel confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us, which hope we have, as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered. "2
This hope every christian is under obligations to cherish and maintain. His destitution of it is his sin, and inust be assigned to his neglect or refusal to exercise that faith which overcomcth the world. On which account the
1. 1 John in. 3.
2 Heb. xi, 17-21.
apostle has very appropriately and solemnly exhorted us to "give all diligence to the full assurance of hope, even unto the end."
We subjoin a remark or two with regard to the FEAR of God, which forms an essential feature in the character of the christian. It is not that slavish dread of punishment which characterizes the condemned and guilty culprit, nor the startling impressions which we instinctively feel, when suddenly apprehending some impending danger, or in view of some mighty and irresistible power, which may be brought to bear upon us to our injury; but that reverence and respect for God, which a right apprehension of His character, as the great Moral Governor, and of our relations to Him as such, cannot fail to inspire. The external means employed for awakening these feeliogs are numerous. . The whole creation, in all its vastness and extent--the entire providence of God, in all its intricate and wondrous developments--the law of God, in all its purity and rectitude—the scheme of redemption, in all the wonders of divine condescension, as effectuated through the high and holy One, who though He were a Son, yet learned obedience,-all contribute to awaken, in the believer's mind, that profound deference and respect for the great Moral Governor of the world, which tend to secure the avoidance of temptation, the exercise of circumspection, and the constant appeal of the heart to His mercy and grace through a mediator, for protection and support. These things are manifestly the duty of every rational man. They are, indeed, feelings, but they are feelings under the control of, and to be regulated by the will. And, accordingly, we are exhorted to "fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."
Whatever christian grace, therefore, we contemplate, we discern in cach alike, the voluntary agency and ac1 Heb. vi. 2.
2 Eccles, xii. 13,