« PoprzedniaDalej »
habitual exercise. Every believer will follow the same course, especially in trials. It is essential to faith, and an eminent mean of promoting steadfastness, and growth in grace.
7. We also observe, that faith derives such strength from Christ under present sufferings as encourages the believer in views of the greatest future trials. As one wave succeeds another, so did the apostle's afflictions. When one billow passed, he scarcely had time to breathe before he was overwhelmed with another. In them all he was supported. The everlasting arms were underneath him. From support in one, he argued that he would be strengthened under the next. His reasoning was conclusive. It was founded on the faithful promise, and infinite care of the Redeemer. Death was before him. He was firmly persuaded that he who had brought him through Red Seas of troubles, would carry him safely over Jordan. Faith cannot act otherwise. It comes empty to Christ. It seeks and receives supply from his fulness. It gives nothing, and takes all. While it always comes empty to the Redeemer, it does so especially in trials; and it never comes in vain. The soul is strengthened. While experience of support and supply in every trial is a proof of his love and care, his power and faithfulness; it encourages the believing soul in the prospect of every future affliction. The saints argue, he who has delivered will deliver. They are trained to face one enemy and danger after another, till at last they defy death itself. The amount of their experience and encouragement is, “ I have often been brought very low; in all my
straits I went to Christ: I never went in vain: I have found him rich in mercy: I will make application to no other quarter: all my expectation is from him; and I will always apply to him: he cannot be worse; and I must be successful: and it is as easy for an omnipotent arm and almighty grace to support the soul in death, as in the least trial.”
8. Already encouraged by rest and repose in the Redeemer, faith always might rise to the greatest assurance about acceptance and salvation, and often actually does it. The apostle spake in the language of assurance. His tone is firm, and without hesitation. He says, I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded. Thousands have adopted the same language without self-deception, or vain gloriation. There is always the highest reason for assurance in the grounds of faith laid down in Scripture. There is a grant of Christ to all, to every individual, and to the worst. The promise makes over Christ and all his fulness to them that are afar off and to them that are nigh. It is God's commandment that men believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ. He commands men every where to repent, and true repentance can only flow from faith. These are the grounds of faith. Standing on these, faith may speak with assurance and confidence. But the man who has already committed his soul to Christ, enjoys rest and peace from being so comfortably and safely lodged. This repose is both refreshing and encouraging. At anchor within the vail, faith weathers every storm. Inured to so many, and having seen the waves, times innumerable, dash and beat to no purpose, he is firmly
persuaded that the greatest hurricane cannot hurt him, and that when floods of great waters swell up to the brim, they shall not overwhelm his soul, nor come near to him. United to Christ, he makes his boast in God. Though thousands should rise up against him, he will not be afraid. Assurance that Christ is mine in particular, his righteousness mine for all the purposes of salvation, and that through the grace
of the Lord Jesus I shall be saved, is essential to faith. Nothing short of this particular appropriation would answer to the home charge of the law, the particular accusations of conscience, or the pressing calls of the Gospel. But a person may have an appropriating faith who can scarcely adopt Paul's triumphant language in the text. But faith and experience shall increase. They shall know who follow on to know. When, like the apostle, believers have been supported under many troubles, and had ample experience that Christ answers to his precious characters in the word, their confidence and assurance will increase. Like a tree whose roots fasten and spread the more the wind and storms appear to pluck it up, their faith will gradually rise into solid assurances and confidence, till at last it says, with firmness, “ My beloved is mine and I am his,-the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,-I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better,—to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain, I am per.suaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor
things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord ;" or, as in the text, “ I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
Such as are suitably impressed with death and eternity, on hearing these things, cannot be altogether unconcerned. They must instantly pronounce them happy who can adopt the apostle's language, and ardently desire they could do it themselves. They are persuaded that no trial can be too heavy for such as know whom they have believed, and that they may meet death itself as a weak and impotent foe, and triumph over it as disarmed and unstinged. They justly conclude that such as are certain of their interest in Christ may rejoice evermore. As for themselves, they are often disconsolate and dejected. They know nothing of that unspeakable and glorious joy which flows from believing. They desire to be interested in Christ, but cannot declare that they are 80. They are well acquainted with doubts and fears, but scarcely feel the principle of faith. Death and judgment impress their minds, and they can hardly think of them without terror. Gladly would they commit their souls into Christ's hands. They have often tried it; but are afraid they have not done it in a right manner, because they are still dejected and without comfort. They have often examined their own hearts. They find abundance of sin, but little else. If they had it, they would this moment give a world to be certain of their interest in Christ.
and able on good grounds to say with the apostle, I know whom I have believed, &c. Gladly would we dispel the darkness, and dissipate the clouds so distressing to the disconsolate mind. With joy would we irradiate their hearts, and persuade them that they have believed. The Holy Ghost alone can enlighten the mind, and comfort the heart. His word is power. He is the comforter. He bears witness with our spirits that we have believed. He works by means. Perhaps he may bless what follows to some, and persuade them that on good grounds they may adopt the language in the text.
The man who would comfortably adopt the language in the text must be
Much versant in the Scriptures. They testify of Christ and eternal life. They unfold the method of grace and salvation. They discover and exhibit the object of faith. They reveal the warrant which sinners have to believe. They are the great means of beginning and increasing faith. “ They are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name. By the word sinners are begotten again unto a lively hope.” Without an acquaintance with the word, we can never know if our faith be genuine. None who neglect or despise the Scripture, can with the least propriety say, they know whom they have believed.
He must be a careful observer of his own heart, and in some good measure acquainted with it. Paul searched carefully and narrowly into his. Without this it is impossible to know what passes in it. When