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and look to him for every perfect gift. Many are chosen, and many refined, in all their Christian graces, in the furnace of affliction.
Do you behold a Christian whom prosperity has rendered careless ? His faith is on the wane. That smiling face shall be changed to sadness, for a little time, and he shall find it good for God's children to be afflicted. Mark the uplifted hand! It falls upon a child ; and the language of our Heavenly. Parent to the bereaved is, “little children keep yourselves from idols.” When we are made to feel our desert of punishment, when we thus judge, that if we were not sinners we should not be thus troubled, then we return unto God, from whom we have wandered ; then we contemplate his covenant faithfulness, which is displayed in our chastisement, and believe anew, that Jesus Christ died for sinners, and that God will not leave his people to destroy themselves.
In the course of divine providence, believe ers are allowed to suffer from strong temptations. This method of increasing faith may seem severe ; but it is effectual. When any one has become remiss, and thinks little of his Redeemer, Satan is allowed to come with insinuations and accusations, and Satan, who will be blind to the power of Christ, and who cannot search the Christian's inmost soul, brandishes his scorpions in confidence of victory. If there is any devil, (and the word of
God assures us that he goeth about, seeking whom he may devour,) the impious thoughts which, uncalled, obtrude into the believer's mind, are his work. Many believers in Jesus, sometimes have thoughts which they hate, that the word of God is all a fiction, and that faith in Christ is useless. The preacher, and many of his hearers are not strangers to such devices. Some eminently pious persons have been troubled with suggestions wbich make them shudder, when they recol. lect them; but God grants deliverance, and then the happy soul trusts, more firmly than ever, in him, who delivers the bird from the snare of the fowler. Satan desired to have Peter, that he might sift him like wheat. He did sift him, and after his shameful fall, Peter was a more grateful and exemplary believer than he would have been, had not Jesus looked him into bitter repentance for temporary apostacy. Job was tempted by the devil, and the most patient of men cursed his birth-day. The trial, nevertheless, was so ordered, that Job saw more of his own wicked heart, and hated sin, while he loved his REDEEMER, more than ever. If any Christian, through his own negligence, is allowed to fall into great sin, and the Lord is pleased to recover him, he will know more of the remission of sins, more highly prize the doctrine of substitution, and cleave to the Saviour with a more
humble and adhesive faith in his sufficiency to save the chief of sinners. O my God, be pleased to increase our faith other
way than this; but if we shame. fully backslide, enable us to say, "he has brought us out of deep waters, and firey trials: he has brought us to his fold again.” May each sinner
of us, when reclaimed, declare, with the psalmist," thou tellest my wanderings ; put thou my tears into thy bottle : are they not in thy book ?” " Thou hast delivered
my soul from death ; wilt thou not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living ?” Ps. lvi.
The whole of this discourse is practical, and you will anticipate the exhortation. Say unto the Lord; “ increase our faith.” At the same time make use of all the proper means for securing the object for which you suppli. cate at the throne of grace. Form the habit of prayer; acquire doetrinal and practical information, on all religious subjects, by search, ing the Scriptures, by communing with the saints, and by a diligent attention to all divine ordinances.
Wait patiently, and look attentively for an answer to your prayers. In the day of prosperity, rejoice with pious exultation in the divine goodness. In adversily consider. Seek to gain advantage from every temptation, which you experience; and when you are delivered, acknowledge God your Deliverer. When you overcome Satan in any contest, shout, " it is Christ who gives us the victory: it is the Author of our faith, who increases it, and will perfect it.” Even so do, Lord Jesus.
THE OBJECT, MEANS, AND USE OF FAITH.
“ These are written, that ye might believe that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his
JOHN XX. 31. THE author of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks “ of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”* This act of believing we call saving faith. Any other act of faith, however holy, because the act of a renewed man, is not thus distinguished for as Jesus is superior to all other objects contemplated by the mind in believing, so is faith in Him more excellent than
other belief concerning any other subject; and that particular act
+ Hebrew8 8. 39.
of faith by which we are united to Him ought to be known by a discriminating epithet.
The words which have been selected for the foundation of the present discourse, paturally lead to a consideration of THE OBJECT, MEANS, AND USE OF FAITH.
1. Every act of the mind in believing must have an OBJECT; for he who believes, must believe something. That upon which any particular act of faith terminates is its object. Hence there may be as many objects as there are acts of believing, unless two or more acts of faith regard one object. This however is the fact, and the testimony of God, that he made the world, may be to ten thousand impénitent sinners the object of an indefinite number of acts of historical faith.
But inquity is made concerning the object of saving faith, whether it be one truth, or one class of propositions, or the whole testimony contained in the Bible, or the record in particular which God has given of his Son? If we affirm that it is one truth, it will be de. manded of
“ is it not a gracious act to believe, as every child of God does, the truth concerning many subjects ?” If we say, that it is the whole testimony of God contained in the Bible, we shall be met by the exclamation, “ who, then, can be saved !"
Here it seems necessary to fix in our minds a distinction between that act of believing by