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every inward and outward trial. The Lord being on thy side, all these shall work together under him for thy good, and they shall. be the means of making thee walk safely in the way, and of bringing thee happily to the end of it. The apostle has given us the whole plan in few words--" WE WALK,"? says he, “BY FAITH, and not by sight.”. We direct our christian course by believing, and not by seeing. Faith is to us the evidence of things not seen, and the ground of our hoping to enjoy them. We believe upon the authority of God's word, that they are what he describes them to be: for faith, as a grace of the Spirit, consists in giving credit to what God says. If it be a truth proposed to the understanding, faith relies upon the infallible word. If it be a promise, faith depends upon the arm of God to make it good. And whatever he has promised, faith, (when it is as it should be,) does not stagger at difficulties, but rests fully persuaded, that what God hath promised, he is able also to perform. Faith -looks at the wordi spoken, and overlooks, seeiningrimpossibi
lities : THUS SAITH THE LORD that is enough for faith—full of satisfying evidence: for it knows, that to speak and to do are the same thing with an unchangeable God.
How many errors in judgment, and consequcnt mistakes in practice, prevail at this day, chiefly arising from confounding faith with its fruits; and from not distinguishing between the word of God believed, and what will follow upon believing it aright. Thus soine make assurance to be of the essence of faith ; others make appropriation, and many make it consist in an impression upon the mind, that Christ loved me, and gave himself for me. These are fruits; what faith should produce, but not what it is. These are effects of faith working, and not definitions of the nature of faith. A believer should be exhorted to make his calling and election sure: for it is his privilege. He ought to give all diligence to attain assurance, to appropriate Christ with all his blessings to himself, and to be clearly persuaded that Christ loved him, and gave himself for him. These are blessed fruits of believing. May God give
his people more of them. But then the tree must be before the fruits, and the fruits grow upon the tree. Faith is first, and faith derives its being from believing the word of God, and all its fruits are continued acts of believing. And when you hear of believing, do you not always think of something spoken? You cannot separate these two in your mind. Something has been said and proposed to you before your belief can be called for. If nothing has been said, belief has no exercise. Faith and the word of God, therefore, are related, as the effect and the cause: because faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. What God hath spoken in his word demands belief from all that hear it. When faith cometh by hearing it, then we assent to the truth of what God has. said, and we rely upon his, faithfulness to make good what he has promised. Assurance is this faith grown to its full stature : but we are not born six feet high. Appropriation is a very comfortable acting of faith, when a man is persuaded of his interest in covenant mercies : and, from what he then
feels, can say, Christ loved me, and gave himself for me; but he has not this comfort in times of heaviness; he may be walking in darkness and having no light; yea, in the hidings of the Lord's countenance, and yet even then he may trust simply to what God hath spoken; which is true faith, and more exalted faith, than that which draws its evidence from its appropriating acts and its present experience. The more a man trusts to sense, the less he lives by faith : for sensible feelings are not faith. Impressions are not believing. I see the sun; I hear a sound; I feel an object : faith has no place in these instances. Its essence is believing and trusting what God hath spoken. If his word be believed, and by believing, the conscience find peace, and the heart joy: these are joy and peace in believing. They come from believing; are its effects ; and no more enter into the essence of faith, than confortable feelings do into the essence of a man. He is as truly a man, when miserable, as he is when comfortable.
These mistakes should be carefully guarded
against, because they are chiefly pernicious to the children of God; who are kept by them from growing up into assurance, into appropriation, and into the sensible experience of God's love to them in Christ Jesus. They are puzzled--they are misled, by being told that they have no faith, if they have no assurance, &c. They examine themselves, but cannot find any such faith. This discourages them. They are tempted to think they have no true faith, because they have not what certain persons talk of. But if they would adhere strictly to the word of God, and would take their ideas from it, they would see how simple and plain a thing believing is, and would soon be satisfied that they were true believers. Which conviction would have many blessed effects, especially these-it would put them upon seeking for an increase of faith, and upon expecting the proper fruits of faith. What nourishes faith, ripens them: for they cannot be produced so long as persons are doubtful whether they have any faith at all. They would see how desirable it is to believe without doubt or