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forward to the great day of retribution without dread; it will cast out tormenting fears and disquietudes ; which can only take possession of the mind where there is a want of that firm trust in God's promises which is the blessed privilege of the just and faithful, or where there is a consciousness that the love of God cannot be extended towards us, because we ourselves are at enmity with Him, and are acting in opposition to His will.

Here, then, we may close the subject. The love of God, as inculcated in holy writ, is a perfectly rational affection ;-it is grounded upon those sentiments which most generally and most powerfully actuate the human mind.

It springs from gratitude for the greatest blessings; from veneration for the Divine perfections; and from a strong sense of personal interest in the exercise of those perfections for our own individual benefit. It is no fanciful, no romantic passion. The root and foundation of it lies deep in the human heart, and is common to us all. The proofs of its actual existence and of its constant operation lie open to general observation. They are indicated by habitual acts of piety, of benevolence, of purity, and of cheerful trust in God; not by mystic flights of imagination, not by extravagant eccentricities


of conduct. “ We love God because He first “ loved us:" and as the proofs of God's love to us are neither “ in the height” above our faculties, nor“ in the depth a” beyond our penetration to discover; so neither are the proofs of our love to Him beyond the reach of plain and sober understandings.

But that this powerful spring of action may never fail, it will be necessary that we look well to the source from whence it flows. From Revelation only we can derive the full knowledge of that goodness in which it originates. There is revealed to us that “mys

tery of godliness,” in which the proofs of Divine mercy and compassion are most conspicuous. These let us earnestly contemplate, and endeavour to fix them in our recollection. They can hardly fail to give a higher elevation to our thoughts and sentiments, to weaken the power of temptation, and to strengthen that of virtuous resolution. They will expand our benevolence towards man, in proportion as they incite our gratitude towards God. Under every circumstance, and in every condition, they will enable us to feel the full force of the Evangelist's emphatical declaration, “ This is the SERMON XVII.

victory that overcometh the world, even our faith b." a Isaiah vii. 11.

b1 John v. 4.

1 CORINTHIANS xiii. 13.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three :

but the greatest of these is charity.

In this comprehensive text of Scripture is contained, in substance, a general epitome of the Christian character. It marks those peculiar features which essentially distinguish the disciple of Christ from the followers of every other religion. These features are fixed, permanent, and unchangeable, in every one who has thoroughly imbibed the spirit of the Gospel ; and the Apostle regards them as inseparable from each other :-“ Now “ abideth faith, hope, charity, these three : “ but the greatest of these is charity.” In other parts of his writings they are mentioned severally as well as jointly in the same strain of commendation. “By grace

ye are saved through faith 4.Again, “we

are saved by hope b.” And again, “ the end “ of the commandment is charity, out of a

a Ephes. ii. 8. b Rom. viii, 24.



pure heart, and of a good conscience, and “ of faith unfeigned." Their union, therefore, and their cooperation are evidently assumed to be necessary for the attainment of salvation. Each without the other is spurious or imperfect. Then only are they genuine and effective, when they mutually adorn and strengthen each other. This will still more clearly appear when we examine the appropriate qualities of each, as they are represented to us by the Apostle himself.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews faith is defined to be “the substance of things hoped

for, the evidence of things not seen !." It is “ the substance of things hoped for.” It gives us as strong and firm a persuasion of what we at present only look for and expect, as if it were already realized. It certifies us of what is past many ages ago, as decidedly as if it were now before us; and it gives us a foresight of what is yet to come, with almost the same lively and satisfactory assurance that we experience in what is actually present to our contemplation. It is also “ the “ evidence of things not seen.” By the instrumentality of faith truths imperceptible to the natural sight are revealed to our mental perceptions. With respect to these, the discernment of the believer is called a spiritual discernment, to distinguish it from that of mere human philosophy, which is conversant only with the works of the visible creation; and hence it is emphatically said that the Christian “ walks by faith, not by sight.” To creatures born for immortality in a world to come, there are many things “hoped for,” and many things “not seen,” concerning which we necessarily feel great solicitude. The nature of God, his attributes and perfections, his providence in the administration of human events, the imperfect distribution of good and evil in this present state of our existence, the nature of man, his origin and destination, the duty he owes to his Maker, the means of obtaining the Divine favour, his hopes and expectations of eternal life;—these are subjects on which a rational being cannot but feel desirous of some positive and certain assurance. Yet are they utterly beyond the reach of his own natural faculties. They are doubtful

c 1 Tim. i. 5.

d Hebr. xi. 1.

speculations, and must for ever have continued so, had not God been pleased to reveal them in such measure and degree as is necessary for our immediate comfort and edification. It is faith only, a firm reliance upon God's own testimony, that gives us any competent know

e 2 Cor. v. 7.

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