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senses and the natural affections, the world presses home its claims, and the pleading is so successful, that the soul turns pleader with herself on behalf of the outer life. Do we not want a commanding
. faith, that we may not be like feathers carried down by the world-stream, but that the stream may sweep against us, around us, and past us, this
way and that, but not move us ? Faith is the master of the world-tide, for it is anchored to the Rock of Ages. It is the very pillar and ground of Eternal Truth in us. “Precious Faith.”
THE AUTHOR OF FAITH.
VI.-It is far too precious to be of, or from, ourselves. “It is the gift of God.” And weak faith is as much from God as strong faith. The first imperceptible dawn of light is as much from the sun as noon-day. The indeed sees, but light is neither of, nor from, the eye.
The soul exercises faith, but the faith is of God, not of the soul. God gives faith, and then rewards His own gift. God gives to man strength to labour, and then rewards him for his labour as though the strength were his own. God gives, man takes ; but God blesses His creature for taking and using His gift.
“Abraham believed God and it was ac
counted to him for righteousness." It was righteous
It was the righteousness which he had received from God, exercised towards God. The Lord has been “The Lord our Righteousness” in all generations. The Righteousness of God is like the great mountains for strength, and it makes the soul “strong in faith” to trust Him from Whom , it comes ; and it is like the eye of God in the understanding, so that by it the soul pierces the veil and looks upon eternal things; and in the heart it becomes a fountain of purity, constituting that “new heart” which escapes "the corruption that is in the world through lust."
This also is the doctrine of St. Peter in this very connection, not only that the “Divine Power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” but that we have obtained our faith,
through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ." The Righteousness of God is given to sinners through Him Who died for sinners. God is Righteous in giving His Righteousness to the guilty, because it is given through “that Just One," · Who His own Self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” He took our sin and curse, shame and death, without being entitled to them : so without being entitled to them, His Righteousness and Love, His Glory and Eternal Life are given to
us. The Lord having joined His, to our, nature, the Spirit of Holiness from Him is gone forth into all the earth, and becomes inclination and faith in all those who come unto Him. God, present and working in man to will and to do, is the ground of his willing and believing unto the salvation of his soul. Man can believe in his Saviour, because the Saviour is in his heart, moving and inclining him to believe. “Say not who shall go up to Heaven,” &c. Man can work out his salvation, because God is working in him.
THE PROGRESS OF FAITH,
VII.–Faith, we repeat, is God's point of contact with the soul. The soul may have, along with this new relation to God, much weakness and fear. For there must needs be not only much anxiety, but indistinctness of thought and timidity of heart, about the initiation of a sinful spirit into covenant with the Holy, Holy, Holy God. But if it be so with faith, that it is God's hold upon the soul and the soul's hold upon God, we cannot wonder at the importance which is attached to Faith. Nor can we wonder at the "exceeding great and precious promises,” which are made to Faith. But is it not to be deplored, that faith
should so often be accepted as an end, rather than a great beginning. Following a great beginning, there ought to be a great progress, that there may be a great end.
In Christ, your character has a right and a real beginning. You will never have to repent of, nor to alter, this beginning. Your beginning is truly for eternity; for Christ is Eternal. He is "All and in all.” “ It hath pleased the Father that in Him all fulness should dwell." All creations and possibilities are in Him, and from Him. “If
have received Christ Jesus the Lord,” do not stand still,"walk in Him." Faith is but the starting-post of your race : you must keep the race-course, “ forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” if you mean to win “the prize." According to another figure ; Faith is not your eternal house, but the first stone thereof on the Foundation, Jesus Christ : you must go on to build up your house, and you must take heed, what you build, and how you build, thereupon. Or, to take another figure, if by faith you are a branch of the True Vine, you must grow, or you will die.
You must receive life from the Vine and bring forth fruit thereby; for every branch in God's Vine that beareth not fruit He taketh away. But if you are a life-deriving, fruit
bearing branch, then rejoice and be exceeding glad, for all your growth is eternal growth. The reward of a right beginning is that it carries in itself the germ of the right and good end. If you are rooted in Christ, the top of your tree, the very height of endless life, is already hidden in your root. If you are rooted in Christ, are you not rooted in all the holy powers of God and of eternity? The longer these holy powers are in you, the more they will be rooted in you, and you in them; and, consequently, the more strongly they will hold you. For these holy powers grow in the soul and become another nature, called also the “new creature.” Faith in Christ is life in Christ, and this new life forms a new nature, and the new nature becomes a chain of God binding the person to Christ, his Life-Source. The chain of God is a “perfect law of liberty.” For the chain of God is no other than a nature, whose tendencies and inclinations are at one with all the commands and drawings of God.
But there is much to be done before we come to “the perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." We are “complete in Him:" but by little and little we must derive His completeness until it becomes also our own personal completeness.