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have come, with regard to the Koran,* we shall, perhaps, see enough to assure us, that our conclusion is borne out by fact. But, in making our appeal to the extent of real human power, we introduce a condition upon which every man of sound mind and some experience can promptly and safely judge; and, at the same time, appeal to a measure, which can readily and effectually be applied to all questions of this nature.
Having dwelt thus much on the first portion of our text, we may now proceed to consider the declaration it makes in the second: "If I had not done among them the works," it is said, "which none other man did, they had not had sin." From what has been said, it must appear, that if it is reasonable something adequate to produce conviction should be afforded where a claim to belief is advanced, we have in our Scriptures the most satisfactory assurances, in this respect, that the claim made is divine. Our business will now be, to consider the end for which this claim has been made, and these grounds of faith afforded; namely, that we may not, to use the language of our text, have sin. Now, without proceeding to affirm, as some have done, that the human mind presents us with nothing but a mass of ignorance and corruption, we can, without at all affecting any positive doctrine of Scripture, or any truth derived from experience, affirm, that, notwithstanding all its imperfections, it does possess many properties which even the angels may envy, and some, perhaps, which they cannot excel: hopes, desires, energies, and capabilities, truly ennobling; sympathies, which have in some cases borne a character more than earthly; and fortitude and perseverance, upon which all the accumulated evils of life have expended their force in vain. On the subject, however, of true religion, these otherwise justly admirable properties are, of themselves, not only uninformed
See my Controversial Tracts on Christianity and Mohammedanism, passim.
and unprovided with objects and ends worthy of their endeavours, but they are impotent, torpid, sullen: they rarely, perhaps never, possess either energy or enterprise sufficiently potent to urge their possessor to inquiry; and, in many cases, they can be roused into action and warmth only to oppose, injure, or destroy it.
These dispositions are, in the language of the Scriptures, classed under the general head of unbelief; and, as our subject is here purely practical, we now proceed to consider in what way the miraculous exertions of the divine power, which we have been noticing, ought to be applied.
All unbelief, then, may be considered in two points of view: first, as to that which is entire; and, secondly, as to that which is partial. Of that kind of unbelief which is entire, we shall now say nothing, because it does not appear to have been contemplated in our text; and because it is not likely, that where Moses and the Prophets are disregarded, any thing we may have now to advance will obtain a patient hearing. Of the second we may say, that as it applies to a great number of professing Christians, some of whom hold the truth in unrighteousness, and others who do not appear to carry their belief to any profitable extent, a brief and calm inquiry can never be unacceptable.
Our first question will be, then, as to What effect the overwhelming demands of our religion have produced on our own minds individually. The first requisite of belief seems to be, that we acquiesce fully and entirely in the declarations and example of the Son of God-that we believe, without reserve or qualification, that he has both the power and the will, fully and freely to provide for all our wants, and that we are bound patiently and joyfully to follow his example under all circumstances.
With regard to the first of these, namely, an entire faith in the Son of God, there is but too much reason to believe, that it is neither found nor felt so universally as some imagine. If it were, then indeed would our land flourish,
and our cities be strangers to complaint. Because he, whose faith is reposed on this Rock of Ages, will have neither cause nor disposition to complain. Confidence, attended as this is, will be sufficient to support his mind, and to raise his hope above the conflicts of a world, which he knows shall soon cease; and to afford him, even here, some anticipation of those purer joys, which it has not yet entered fully into the heart of man to conceive. On this faith he
can firmly rely-in this hope he can daily make his boast; because he has discovered and has felt that God himself is his Friend; and that Christ, who once died and rose again, has actually entered the heavens there to prepare a mansion, and to make intercession, for him. Of this he has received the strongest assurances, which the combined testimony of history and of miracle can give. He feels too, and knows he has found, beyond all possibility of doubt and from the evidence of a power within, which the world can neither give nor take away, that this doctrine is true, and that it is of God. Such was the testimony and experience of the Apostles and Martyrs-such the preaching of Prophets and of Saints, from the earliest dawn of time, down to the last death-bed; and such, from the nature of the case, must the conviction and the confession be of every true disciple of Christ.
It is not therefore the conviction or the confession alone -it is not the strength merely of evidence afforded that Jesus is the Christ, or the human assurance that all things shall work together for good to them that love God; nor is it an impression, however deep this may be, that God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life these are, indeed, the first principles of the oracles of God; and they are those, which the means of grace must first implant in the belief and in the experience of all who shall be made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints. in light-there are still higher considerations than these:
there must be an actual adoption into the family of heaven, an enrolment in that number which composes the hosts and armies of the Lamb; there must be a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness;-a burial of the body with Christ, and a resurrection with him in the renewal of the mind; there must be a power afforded and realised within, as sensible as it is glorious, as convincing as it is encouraging, that the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost,* that the love of Christ is administering its constraining influences,† and that God is working within both to will and to do of his good pleasure.‡ Out of an obedience to the faith crowned with these testimonies of the Divine approbation and assistance, grows that restoration to the Divine Image, which enables man again to be like his Father which is in heaven,§ and to bring forth fruits to his glory. With such an one, faith has had its perfect work, its novitiate and its progress, its seed-time, growth, maturity, and is now white and waving for the harvest. The growth, the bud, the blossom, have been healthful; the rains and the sun from above have co-operated with the labours of the husbandman; and now, the pains of the culture, and the glories of the maturity, wait only for the last great act of the Lord of the harvest, to be gathered into the garner, and to enjoy everlasting repose. It is not merely, therefore, not to have sin, that results from the faith of Christ; there are still other triumphs of the cross, other blessings, other wealth, which the Son of God has to give, and which he does give in the richest abundance; not only consolations, but peace, and that the peace of God; not only evidence strong and overwhelming, but confirmation, assurance, a testimony within which cometh from above, and which, while it makes the believer the best citizen of the world, prepares him for a crown, and a kingdom which shall endure for ever.
* Rom. v. 5. +2 Cor. v. 14. ↑ Phil. ii. 13. § Matt. v. 16, 45, 48.
Throughout life we are instructed, delighted, and in many cases stimulated to the most arduous undertakings, by a recital of the greatness of purpose, the unwearied diligence, or the unparalleled virtue or valour, of some character of antiquity; and, perhaps, most of the deeds either of arts or arms of modern times have owed their commencement and consummation to some such circumstance: because, here we find something well suited both to stimulate and to support the mind under the sacrifices which must always be made, to bring about any thing truly useful and valuable. But what are these to the approbation of the Almighty, and to that eternal glory, splendour, and renown, which awaits the soul of the faithful disciple? What comparison can here be made with the doubtful results of human enterprise, and that victory which God has promised, and of which Christ has afforded an earnest, that it shall be sure and complete? If we look for motives to action, surely it is allowable to seek them where the assurances of success are the most potent, and the result to be arrived at is the most valuable. In this respect, the faith which is in Christ Jesus admits of no comparison. For, while we have nothing at all calculated to destroy or to injure a good name here on earth, but, on the contrary, every thing to secure and maintain it, we have an assurance that neither 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 us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Here the mind is exalted, not only to the highest and noblest point of human ambition, but to a degree, which, while it gives efficacy to virtue, carries with it a demonstration that the power evinced is of God; and affords an evidence, at once as excellent as it is decisive, that it is this alone, which can effectually raise, bless, ennoble, and sanctify the soul of man.
It might be thought, however, that such a system of belief and assurance as this is, would be of too theoretic a