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the unworthy spies, whom Moses sent to view the promised land; and fear that, like them, I shall never attain the possession of it, through the same besetting sin of unbelief. If I attend the means of grace, I return, for the most part, unbenefitted, through the suggestions of this evil heart of unbelief. If I hear the word of a preached Gospel, though I know the truth as it is in Jesus, and love to sit under the sound of it; yet too often like the Israelites, it doth not profit me, not being mixed with faith. If at any time I read the Bible, and turn to those 'exceeding great and precious promises,' which belong to the Lord's people, their sweetness is lost in me, through a fear that I have no interest in them. And how many of the providences of my God, which I well know to be every one of them fraught with a sure blessing in their final issue to his people, are perverted in their effects on me, by the impatience and distrust of my unbelieving heart! And can such a creature say any thing byway of encouragement to the Lord's exercised family, when he himself is so faithless and unbelieving?'
'I confess,' (rejoined the Poor Man,) 'that such a state as you describe, cannot afford much assistance to the cause of Christ. But blessed be our God, this is the Christian's charfer, that, 'if we believe not, yet he abidetb faithful, he cannot deny himself.' Your want of faith indeed is injurious to your peace, but not to his cause. Unbelief, like a worm of the bud, cankers the bloom and fragrancy of the sweetest flowers of grace. And had our fathers of the church in the wilderness been in this frame of mind, instead of surrounding the Chrisdan pilgrim as they now do, with such a glorious cloud o^tvitnesses, they would have stood in the highway only, as so many pillars of salt. But let me tell you, my drooping brother, that I am too well acquainted with your real character, as well from an insight into your experience, as from my own, (long exercised as I have been by unbelief, both in times past, and even now too frequently feeling its remains,) not to know that the very sorrow which yon express, on account of the supposed want of faith, carries with it an evidence, that you must have some faith thus to complain. That your faith is not equal to your wishes, I will readily allow. For indeed, whose is? But that you differ most essentially from those that are shut up in total unbelief, is most evident. In proof of what I say, compare your situation now, with what it was in the days of your unregeneracy. You were then, not only 'without Christ and without God in the world ;'4iut absolutely unconscious of the want. Whereas now your most earnest desires are, that 'Christ might dwell in your heart by faith,'and be fully formed there ' the hope of glory.' If there were no faith in your heart, whence arise these desires for more? It is the preciousness of the gift .which makes you long for greater manifestations of the Giver. And it is a consciousness of the remains of unbelief, that makes you apprehensive that you have no faith at all. While, therefore, you groan under those remains, every .sigh proves that they are but remains, from which the merciful goodness of our God will in his own time deliver you. Carry your complaints to him who is both the 'Author and Finisher of faith.' Let us copy the apostles'prayer, 'Lord, increase our faith.' And depend upon it, that if our faith be but as a grain of mustard seed, however small and inconsiderable it may be, still it is not of nature's growth, nor of nature's production. That small portion which you possess, is the gift of the same Almighty power who created the faith of Abraham. Receive it, I entreat you, as 'the earnest of the promised inheritance, to the praise of His glory.' . .
( And while I say this much, by way of convincing you, that in the midst of all your complainings, you have great cause of thankfulness before God, let me remind you also, that what you complain of, forms a part of the complaints of all the Lord's people. Nay more; the greatest instances of faith we meet with in Scripture, afford at the same time the greatest examples of unbelief. As if the dear Lord of his people intended to teach all this important lesson, that man is nothing in himself, but that all his sufficiency is of Him. Abraham, who is handed down to us in the Church's history, as the great pattern of faith, and who could and did exercise such unparalleled confidence in the Lord, in the instance of his intended sacrifice of Isaac; yet even this man could not, upon another occasion, trust in God's faithfulness, to extricate Sarah from danger*. Job, under the influence of faith, could confidently say of the Lord, * though he slay me, yet will I trust in him;' yet so much at another time, was he borne down, under the pressure of trouble, that he impatiently cried out,'Oh that I might have my request, even that it would please God to destroy mef.' And David's whole life, as it may be gathered from his book of Psalms, was made • Gen. xx. t Job vi. 8, 9.
up of conflicts between believing and doubting. I need not mention Peter's case as an additional proof of the fluctuating state of the human mind; who, in the mount of transfiguration, gave so glorious a testimony; and in the hall of Pilate, uttered so shameful a denial of his Lord's character*. All these, and ten thousand lesser instances, serve to show what man is in himself, and what the same man may be when supported by the grace of God. Let me beg of you then, in the estimate of your spiritual state, as it stands before God, never to lose sight of these things. And while a deep sense of the unbelief of your heart makes you humble, and is continually leading you to a mercy-seat for an increase of faith, from Him whose gift alone it is; do not overlook that portion of the blessing which the bountiful Lord hath already bestowed upon you. Never forget that the smallest degree of faith is faith; perfectly distinct from all the operations of nature, and far above all human power to produce. Forget not also, that it is not the quantity, but the quality, which constitutes the principle. 'By Him,(says the Apostle,) all that believe are justified from all things.' Observe the expression, All that believe. He doth not say, * Compare Matt. xvi. 16. with xxvi. 69.