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things not seen, in respect of the Christian disciple, are the heavenly reward to which he looks forward, when time shall have given place to eternity; and by faith such an one is induced to exert himself to the utmost extent, and to pray for God's Holy Spirit to assist him in his exertions, that through the merits of Christ he may attain this reward. He believes that this great reward, a thing at present hoped for, though at present unseen, will hereafter be realized in his behalf: nay, more than this, he not only believes it, but he knows of a certainty that if he perform his part of the Christian covenant, God will most assuredly perform His part; and that the things hoped for, and the things not seen, are as substantially and as evidently his, as though he were actually at the present moment in possession of all the joys and all the privileges of the kingdom of Heaven.
Such is clearly the nature of that faith for which the entire body of the Christian church is called on to contend. And it is indispensable that we should possess a correct understanding of this faith, lest we should in our mistaken zeal enter on a contest in behalf of error, rather than to support and uphold the truth. It is, moreover, not only necessary that we should be enabled to distinguish the true faith from a false one, but we must likewise well discriminate between a defective or erroneous faith, and him who in our judgment may be defective or érroneous in his method of propagating the true faith. I would urge all to recollect that every one
is more or less prone to error. Error, indeed, is the great characteristic of our present imperfect nature. In literature and the sciences, in the arts, and in the habits of ordinary and domestic life, errors and misapprehensions have ever been found to prevail; dogmas, which perhaps had been estalished for centuries, have been overthrown; and theories, which one individual or one generation has received as true, have been regarded by another individual or a subsequent generation as insignificant and false. And as it has ever been with these different branches of human knowledge, so is it also with religion. Notwithstanding the great truths which have been revealed to us, those things which have not been clearly revealed are certainly, to some extent, liable to error and misconception; or, perhaps, to speak more correctly, they are distinguished, without oftentimes being altogether erroneous, by the various and comparative degrees of perfection which they may have attained.
Permit me here further to remind you, that the faith for which you are called upon to contend, is at all times to be understood to comprehend that great Christian virtue which must be familiar to every reader of the writings of St. Paul. The following extract from this apostle's first epistle to the Corinthians, with which I shall conclude this discourse, will at once evince the absurdity of those who profess to contend for the faith, when by their own personal acts they trample under foot one of its most divine and essential ingredients: "Though I have
all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity," (which means love,) continues the great apostle, "suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."*
a 1 Corinthians, xiii. 2-7.
SCHISM A SELF-EVIDENT SIN.
1 JOHN, ii. 26, 27.
"These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
THE epistle, or letter, from whence our text has been taken, was written by St. John the Evangelist, the favourite Apostle of our Lord, and addressed-not to the church of any particular country, like the epistles of St. Paul, but to the whole body of Christians who were then in existence, and for such a reason is it usually designated the Epistle General of St. John. The epistle now before us opens with a description of the person of our Lord, through whom it is declared that all members of his church may obtain eternal life. Such a declaration, however, is necessarily associated with the necessity of good works, of exhibiting a practi
cal no less than a verbal conformity with Christ. The truth of our profession, in fact, and the foundation of our hopes, altogether depend upon this necessary and important adjunct. "If we say," St. John asserts, “that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin." Hence, brethren, it is evident that "there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not," though an improvement in righteousness, and an earnest endeavour to approach nearer towards perfection, in proportion to the number of days and the other means of grace which are meted out to us, are most indisputably necessary. "My little children," the Apostle proceeds, "these things write I unto sin not and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Enough, I conceive, has been now said to satisfy us that good works are necessary, and that these must be based on the same foundation as were all those acts of piety and benevolence which were performed by Jesus Christ the righteous. This foundation, brethren, for it can be none other, is charity or love; for what was it, other than this, which prompted the Son of God to leave his place of exaltation in the heavens, to descend upon earth and