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whatever is there made known to us; such as our fall from God through the sin of Adam; our restoration to His mercy and favour through Christ our Redeemer; the consequent necessity of a holy life; our, sanctification through the Holy Spirit; a future judgment; the eternal happiness of Heaven; the eternal pains of Hell. So understanding the word "faith," as it stands joined in the texť: with the other two graces of “ hope” and “charity," ? we may be able to shew that one great cause of sin is the want of really believing what Holy Scripture has made known: that, in every case where faith is either not understood, not cultivated, or not applied, the Christian character must of necessity be sinful, positively sinful; grievously. imperfect in many of the essential duties of public, social, and domestic life.
Qut of the large number of those who spend their days in open wickedness, or who manífestly lead careless lives, there are a great many;who very much deceive themselves when they say that they believe the Scriptures. It is indeed highly probable that if ever they do think upon these matters, they may so im pose upon their own hearts as to think that they believe, and that, simply because they were born of Christian parents, live in a Christian country, and have learnt to respect
the articles of the Christian faith. But do they prove their belief of what God has
promised and what God has threatened? Their belief of the awful truths of religion is day by day called for in all their thoughts, words, and actions; and yet if they be candid in the scrutiny of their own hearts, their conscience tells them, that, in respect to the only real proof of true belief, practising what is said to be believed, they do not yet believe; that they are as though they had never heard of a future judgment, and a future eternal state of rewards and punishments. For if they really believed what is very plainly told to us all in the Word of God, could they go on careless about what they shall be in eternity, indifferent to the thought of Heaven, and the never-ending pains of Hell?
To make this inference perfectly clear, let it be supposed for a moment that it were possible for an openly wicked, or for a careless Christian, to be carried, without dying, to the realities which he says that he believes; to those regions beyond the grave, where the souls of the wicked are in torment, awaiting, in dreadful despair, the coming of the judgment day.
Having seen with his own eyes the certainty of that place, suppose that he were then carried to the abodes of “just men made per
fect, where the souls of the righteous are in rest and peace, expecting, with joyful hope, the resurrection to glory and everlasting happiness. Can it be thought that these sights of terror and of joy would ever be forgotten? can we suppose it possible, that, after having seen them, any man would still go on in his wickedness, still remain careless about the eternal salvation of his soul? We know that it would be impossible. He would, then, be forced to believe, what he now only says that he believes.
It is to be feared that the sad reality of things around us and within us too well the truth of an illustration like this. : All Christians profess to believe what God has made known to us in His own Holy Word. And yet, among people of all ranks and of all ages, how many are there who, though they say that they believe in the dreadful truths of a future judgment and future eternal punishment for sin, nevertheless still continue in their sins, as though there were neither heaven to gain, hell to receive, God to judge, or a soul to be for ever saved, or for ever lost !
Surely, then, a wicked man, a careless Christian cannot really believe.. Hath not Christ himself told us so ? The rich man in the parable, no doubt in his lifetime, said that he believed in the torments of hell; for he lived
under a knowledge of the true religion. But the way in which he lived shewed that, in his lifetime, he could not really have believed; and that not until he felt it in his own doom, did he actually believe what “ Moses and the prophets” had written, of the state beyond the grave. When he himself experienced the reality of the terrors of the Lord, and, making up his bed in hell, reaped the sad fruits of his sinful life, knew by bitter cost of what value that real belief would be to others, gladly would he have sent the spirit of Lazarus back into the world, that his brethren in his father's house might learn the reality of things unseen; that a departed soul might “ testify unto them, leșt they also" should go to that place of torment.'
Let another instance be applied. Suppose that a man were' permitted to see in prophetic vision, the solemn scene of the general judgment, as was once shewn to St. John in the revelation of the Holy Spirit, when " the dead, small and great, should stand before God, and the books should be opened, and all be judged according to the things written in the books.”, Can we imagine it to be possible, that after a real and undoubted vision like this, such a man would wilfully commit sin, or neglect to have God in his thoughts for the constant, care of the soul?: ' If, then, Christians really believed, that there will be a general judgment to be conducted by that almighty Being, who thoroughly knows the secret thoughts of every man, and that every single person will then be called upon to give an exact account of the deeds done in the body," is it possible that so many would go on in their careless and sinful ways with scarcely a thought, much less a belief, that for all these things they must one day give account before the judgment seat of Christ? Of such as these it is that St. Peter speaks, when he calls the wicked scoffers,” and foretels them as walking
« after their own lusts and saying, where is the promise of His coming ? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."* *And of such as these it is not severe to say, that they are hardened in unbelief, and that their way through life is the way that leadeth unto death. Men who can so reason; who seem to manifest such reasoning by the lives they lead in this their acknowledged probationary state, must be under all the influence of real unbelief; they can believe thoroughly, as matter for their own individual application, neither the threats, nor the promises of the Word of God : the tremendous truth-would be practical, if it were
thi 2 Pet. iii. 3, A.