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through the unreserved grace and goodness of God. The case is this-Before a ma can lay any claim to sincerity, in the full and proper sense of the word, he must be able to show, when God, to whom all things are known and all hearts are open, shall call upon him, that he has not, through indolence, neglected to search after the truth, nor through passion, prejudice, or interest, refused to receive it. This will go to the bottom of the dispute, and lay open the deception.
It will enable us likewise to answer another plea sometimes urged in favour of infidelity, namely, that there can be no merit or demerit in believing or disbelieving; that a man cannot believe as he pleases, but only as the evidence appears to him.
How argues the apostle upon this topic?--"What " if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make " the word of God of none effect? God forbid! Let “God be true" -God will be true—though—"every 4 man be a liar.” If God have given, as he certainly has given, good and sufficient evidence, it is at any man's peril that he rejects it; and he rejects it not for insufficiency in the evidence, but from some hidden corruption in his heart, which ought to have been first cast out, before he sat down to judge.
In the presence of a multitude of spectators, Christ raised Lazarus from the dead. On seeing the miracle, many believed on him, and became his disciples. Why did not all do so, for all saw the miracle? There could be no deception : none was thought of or suspected : all allowed that a person dead was, by a word spoken, recalled to life. Yet
" Then ga
there were those, who, instead of joining themselves to Christ, and acknowledging their Messiah, consulted that they might put Lazarus to death. It does not always happen, that we can know what passes in the minds of men on such occasions. But, in the present instance, we are adınitted behind the scenes, and full information is communicated. “ thered the chief priests and Pharisees a council, and " said, What do we? for this man doth many mira- . “cles. If we let him thus alone, all men will be“ lieve on him ; and the Romans shall come and “ take away both our place and nation.” Want of evidence is not the complaint. “This man doth
many miracles;" the point is conceded; but politics interfered; they apprehended they should suffer, if they .confessed Christ, from the Roman government, to which they were then subject. They theretore stilled their convictions, forced their consciences, and from that day forth, to make all sure, took “ counsel to put Jesus to death.” They carried their counsel into execution; and the consequence was, that what before they vainly feared, now actually happened -" the Romans did come, and did 's take away both their place and nation." This may serve to convince you, how large a share the will has in the production of faith; and that no evidence in the world will cause a man to believe that which, for private reasons, he does not choose to believe.
I shall conclude with mentioning the chief ground on which the necessity of faith is so much pressed in Scripture, namely, because it comprehends in it the great motives of action; it is the principle of life.
“ The just shall live by faith," says the apostle, at the conclusion of the tenth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews; and if, at your leisure, you use the eleventh chapter, you will there find a history of the great and wonderful works wrought by holy men in old time, from Abel downwards, through the power of this principle. In us, to whom more has been revealed than was revealed to them, it should not be less operative and effectual than it was in them. We shall constantly perceive the vigour of our practice to be proportionable to the steadfastness and liveliness of our faith ; what revives one, will always quicken the other. From every doctrine in the creed issues a commandinent; and the doctrine stirs us up to keep the commandment.
When, by reciting the creed, we declare our belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, with all that each has done for us; we should love the Father, for his tender love; adore the Almighty, for his infinite power; and commit our souls to him, in well doing, as to a faithful Creator.
From Jesus we should seek salvation; from Christ, the anointed, as a prophet, instruction; as a priest, atonement; as a king, protection; as the only begotten Son, the adoption of children. As our Lord, we should serve him, for his conception, in faith; for his nativity, in humility; for his sufferings, in patience; for his cross, in crucifying sin ; for his death, in inortifying the flesh; for his burial, in burying the old man with bis evil desires ; for his descent, in meditation on the other world; for his resurrection, in newness of life; for his ascension and enthroniza
tion, in setting our affections on things above, on the pleasures at God's right hand; for his return, in awe of his second coming; for his judgement, in judging ourselves, before we come to be judged by him.
From the Spirit we should seek the breath of saving grace; that so, in the church we may partake of a high and heavenly calling; in the holy church, of sanctification; in the catholic church, of communion with our brethren in prayers and sacraments; and all this to a firm persuasion of the remission of our sins, as well as a confident hope of resurrection and translation to life eternal. Thus is the creed at once a profession of faith, a manual of devotions and a directory of practice—“ The just shall live by his « faith.
That we may evermore preserve this faith pure and undefiled, and that “ by works faith may be made “ perfect,” God of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ.
JOSHUA, xxiv. 15.
you this day whom ye will seroe--but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
A NOBLE resolution! formed by a very eminent person, on a very solemn occasion. That person was Joshua, the leader of the hosts of Israel, by whose arm it pleased God to execute upon sinful nations the punishment due to their crimes, and to place his chosen people in the land promised to their fathers. The general was now “old and stricken “ in age," and the hour of death drew near. Before it came, he wished to deliver his final sentinents to the people under his command. They were assembled for that purpose; "he called for all Israel, for " their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented " themselves before God," as you do this day. They were not backward, we may be sure, in coming. Last words are always listened to with attention, as likely to be words of truth, and words of importance. Dying men do not usually utter falsehoods, or speak