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real Christian is the character which of this paper to specify and illusevery one should supremely la- trate sone of the effects of histori. bour to possess and exemplify cal faith. in the world, that a real Christian, It is a truth too apparent to rewhen ascertained to be such, ought quire any laboured proof, that what to be treated with the most affec- any man seriously and strongly betionate consideration and regard, lieves, will have some important efthat allother, and foreign greainess, fect upon his mind and conduct. in the world and the church, is Why do men toil for wealth, or worthier to be pitied and depreca- pleasure, or fame, but from a belief ted than envied and pursued in all that their exertions will have an the sublunary practice of men, important influence towards the acthat the means of grace are incom- quisition of their object? Destroy parable blessings to a nation and this belief, and you put an end to ought to be cherished and improv- their efforts. ed to eternal life by all who enjoy Among the effects of the faith of them,--and finally, that the gospel which we are speaking, one is, ought to be propagated among the great enlargement of the mind. We nations till the whole world shall mean, that as a consequence of such become the proper and actual ju- a belief of what the Bible reveals, risdiction of the kingdom of heaven. the views of men are extended be
PHILODEMUS. yond what they would otherwise
reach, their ideas and stock of knowledge are increased, the un
derstanding is more vigorous, and ON THE NATURE AND EFFECTS OF
the apprehensions of the mind beHISTORICAL FAITH.
come more impressive and elevated. AMONG the innumerable causes We will seek an illustration of which affect the conduct of men, this, in what the Bible declares of one which merits serious consider the creation. ation is faith. Much is said of this “Through faith we understand in the Scriptures. The term is that the worlds were framed by the used in a variety of senses, the most word of God, so that the things which important of which are those deno. are seen, were not made of things minated historical and evangelical. which do appear." We are here
The latter is saving ; the former is taught, that it is by believing what not. But, notwithstanding it con- the Scriptures reveal concerning stitutes no saving relation to Christ, the creation of the world, that we historical faith is not without pow. obtain just and impressive ideas of erful effects. Nor is it unimport this stupendous work. This truth ant that these should be distinctly is rendered the more impressive by marked, since there are so many the fact, that the wisest of the hcamen who have a full persuasion of thens, after all their efforts to gain the truth of the Scriptures, who knowledge on this subject, remainstill, do not believe to the saving of ed in extreme ignorance. It has the soul. The number is by no been observed, “It is certain, that means inconsiderable, of those none of the ancient philosophers whose understandings are convin. had the smallest idea of its being ced that the Bible is a divine reve. possible to produce a substance out lation. Their belief in this, is in- of nothing, or that even the power duced upon the mind by the mere of the Deity himself could work force of evidence, independently without any materials to work upof any moral relish for the truth, or on." As they were ignorant of love of God in the heart. Such what God has revealed concerning being the fact, it will be the object this subject, they had no such exal
ted ideas of the power and majesty ence as decisive in raising his mind of God Jisplayed in the work of to a high and affecting sense of the creation, as those which even a creating power, the manifold wischild may derive from the Scrip- dom, and ineffable majesty of the tures.
Creator, as they would be in a so. The infidel rejects the word of ber belief of all that the Bible deGod, and believes the world was clares on this subject. It is incre. eternal, or the result of casualty, dible. The more deep and settled and that the Almighty never exert- the belief of any man is concerning ed his power in effecting the won the reality of these things, the more ders of creation which the Bible as- impressive will the subject appear cribes to him. But the faith which to him. The story of some mighreceives this, and by it “under- ty event which we do not believe stands, that the worlds were framed cannot produce the same effect by the word of God,” looks upon upon our feelings, nor awaken the the suns, and stars, and other won- saine train of thought, that would ders of creation, and believes the result from a full belief of the entime was, when they all received tire truth of the story. The contheir existence from the hand of sequence is obvious. A serious the Almighty. It believes, that as belief of the Bible, will have the efto their existence, their form, their fect to impart sublimer views of the motions, and all their relations, they power of God, and to impress the sprang into being by the Divine mind with deeper reverence toWord,- that “God said, Let there wards Him, than could be the case be light, and there was light,"'- were the Scriptures regarded as a that * He spake and it was done.” fiction.
In the reception of such truths, To extend our illustration, it and by such contemplation, even may be observed that a settled bethe speculative believer has a vast lief of the Bible leads a man to readvantage, in point of effect upon gard himself very differently from his understanding, over him who what he would if he rejected it. regards all these truths as visiona- It is characteristic of unbelief to ry. His sober belief of the Bible limit its attention to the objects of carries his mind out to a wider time. One of its maxims is, - Let range of thought, and impresses it us eat and drink ; for to-morrow we with considerations far more im- die." But he that credits the tes. portant than those which are felt timony of God, regards himself as by the unbeliever.
immortal. Hence he looks upon Should it be said of the infidel, his prospects, and his relation to that although he denies the Scrip- futurity in a light vastly more soltures, still he may read them, and emn than he could do did he reject obtain the same ideas, and the same the Scriptures. The unbeliever expansive views which those re- has no such perception of the amazce.ve who believe the truth : to ing scenes which the Bible disclosome extent this is doubtless true. ses concerning the destiny of the The Bible may suggest to him, ma human family, as that which occu, ny great and noble thoughts. But pies the thoughts, and often thrills still, the question is, will his views the soul of him who believes the be the same, that they would be, if word of God. This belief gives an he read the history of the creation enlargement, and an impression to with a full realizing conviction that his thoughts of death and its conhe is contemplating solemn and aw- sequences, altogether peculiar. ful realities? Will his thoughts of We have something farther to God be as sublime, or their influ- offer in this illustration. Let the Bible be opened, and the character precepts and threatenings of the of God as there delineated be care- gospel. A serious belief of them fully considered. Look at his un- will often awaken the man to some ceasing government of all things, sense of duty. It will alarm his from the numbering of our hairs to fears. It will deter him from many the dominion over the principali- gross sins. “By the fear of the ties of heaven. Look at the stu- Lord men depart from evil.” That pendous scenes of his providence, fear which is inseparable from a befrom the creation of the world, to lief of what Jehovah utters against the consummation of this earthly transgressors, is sure to exert some system; at the character, suffer- salutary influence over the feelings ings, and works of Christ ; and at and habits of all who so believe. the history, of angels, those great Conscience is on the side of truth. and happy spirits that minister be- Frequently it will enforce its decisfore the throne. Survey the “ mul ions and check the progress of man titude which no man can number" in his wayward course. Unruly of sinful beings redeemed from the passions will experience restraint. coming wrath. Look at the end Where the Scriptures are seriously of time, at the resurrection of the believed, though the love of God dead, at the disclosures of the judg- be not in the heart, their truths will ment, at the interminablo woes of exert a decisive influence in favour sinking millions, and the ever in- of the sabbath, public worship, and creasing blessedness of other and religious order in the community. unnumbered millions in their ever. The testimony of experience is full lasting progress in the knowledge, to this point. In some instances it service, and enjoyment of God. appears, that the influence of speNow, in the belief and serious con- culative faith is such, as materially sideration of such things, there is to affect the government of families. much to multiply the thoughts, to and the education of children ; to extend the views, to expand, exalt, produce regularity of habits, and and fill the mind, immensely be correctness of moral principle and yond the cold and bewildering spe- conduct in these little communiculations of unbelief. To the in- ties. fidel, these are all visionary things. In a word then, it has the effect At the best, he sees them only as extensively, to impose salutary rebrilliant imaginations. Of conse- straints, to prevent the commission quence they afford him no solemn of crimes, to elevate the tone of and soul-elevating apprehensions of public morals, to promote good orGod, and heaven, and eternity. der in the community, to secure at.
Another effect of this faith, is seen tendance on the ministrations of the in the restraining and controlling gospel, to fix the attention of mul. influence which it exerts upon the titudes upon the momentous ques. sentiments and habits of men, tion of their future destiny. In this «The commandment of the Lord manner does it essentially subserve is pure, enlightening the eyes.” that blessed work of the Holy SpirNo man can deliberately contem- it, by which so many are effectual. plate the law of God in its precepts ly “ turned from darkness to light, and sanction, with a full convic- and from the power of satan unto tion that it comes to him clothed God.” with divine authority, without see- But, important and extended as ing so much of his danger as will are the effects of historical faith. lay some restraint upon his mind and much as its increase is to be and conduct. So it is with the desired; there is need of a word of
caution, lest any should make it sent to have all that is exalting and their resting place Let it not be moving in this subject, not only forgotten, that all its specific influ- lost to them, but ultimately become ence stops short of bringing men to the occasion of unavailing regret Christ. We read of “ many," who and self-condemnation. How dein the days of his humiliation, “ be- voutly is it to be desired, that all lieved on Him;"' and who still, “ did such persons should join the affecnot confess Him,-for they loved tions of their hearts with the dicthe praise of men more than the tates of their understandings, in a praise of God." Their belief was cordial reception of Christ by a liv. no more than speculative, for it was ing faith? Then would they posdestitute of love to Him. Thus it sess a faith that would impart yet came entirely short of that affec- nobler views of God, and carry tionate confidence in Christ which forth, not their thoughts only, but constitutes a spiritual union to Him, their affections also, to the blessed and gives a saving interest in the contemplation of celestial objects. benefits of redemption. Never This is a point which cannot be too can it finally avail any who rest in earnestly pressed, nor too deeply it ; for it may consist with impeni. felt. Directed by the light of Scriptence, and be exercised while the ture, let the man that is disposed to heart is not right with God. “ With rest satisfied with a bare speculathe heart man believeth unto right- tive belief of the Bible, look away eousness."
to the third heavens ; there let him To indulge a few reflections upon behold that throne where the eterthe preceding remarks, it may be nal mind reigns in awful majesty observed, First, that they concur over every world and every being; with a thousand facts to show the -a throne whence emanates a law, fallacy of that sophism, it is no mat- which, on pain of endless woe, deter what a man believes if he is sin mands an unreserved devotedness cere in his belief.
of every affection to God—a disSecondly, How fearful is the re. cernment, which pours its full omsponsibility of those who set them niscience on every object, even the selves to prevent or weaken the most secret thought of every heart faith of others in the truth of the and a power, which can as easily Scriptures. If we have taken a crush a world as an insect. Are just view of things, it is manifest, we under this law, the subjects of that so far as any do this, they aim this omniscient scrutiny, upheld a fatal blow at the best interests of and encircled by this power? How society : they use their endeavours important then, that we hearken 10 to fix upon their victims the curse that other voice, which from the of the second death : they seek to same throne has said, “ This is my rob God of the glory and service beloved Son, in whom I am well which are due to Him, and which, pleased ; hear ye Him." ; but for them, others might be led Again, If the mind of the specuto render Him.
lative believer here receives such Thirdly, It is no slight occasion influence from the Scriptures, it is for regret, that after having felt the wonderful to think of the effects expansive and solemn effects of a which will be produced upon those belief of the Scriptures upon the who are to enjoy the immediate mind, and experienced so much of presence of God and the society of its kindly influence in regulating the angels through eternity. conduct, so many should be satis We have often wondered that fied with this ; that they should con- those gifted minds which feel so much contempt for the Bible, and and has redeemed them with his at the same time, so much intel- blood. Then might they " be able lectual enthusiasm in the investiga- to comprehend with all saints, wat tions of natural science, should not is the breadth, and length, and feel a deep interest in the truths of depth, and height; and to know the Scriptures, that so they might the love of Christ, which passeth have the prospect of an existence knowledge, and be filled with all that would afford the amplest op- the fulness of God.” Then, in efportunity and means for an endless ery scene of trouble which checkimprovement of their minds. If so ers this feeting life, might ther way many intellectual treasures may be with the apostle, " our light aillicfound in the turbid waters of this tion, which is but for a moment, world, what must it be to ascend worketh for us a far more exceedand forever dwell at the pure foun- ing and eternal weight of glory; tain of Infinite Knowledge.
while we look not at the things To contemplate life as a tran- which are seen, but at the things sient day, just long enough to disci which are not seen : for the things pline the mind, and form the habits which are seen are temporal, but and taste for the enjoyment of in- the things which are not seen are tellectual delights ; tben to see the eternal."
W. declining sun hastening the moment that will palsy every power of the soul in death, and extinguish its last glimmerings in eternal ON THE RELIGIOUS DUTIES OF THE night ; presents no very animating
TABLE. prospect, no ground for boasting of the dignity of man.
Giving thanks at meals was a It would seem that the men to custom of the Jews. Talmudists whom we allude, must pant for a and commentators tell us, from the purer region, and an endless day, rabbins and from Philo, that the where all their powers might find Jews were accustomed to take full scope for perpetual advancement neither meat nor drink without havin the acquisition of knowledge. ing first given praise and thanks to Such a region is the heaven of the God, with invocation of his blessing Scriptures ; such a day is the Chris- --esteeming it profane before it tian's eternity. If they would rise was thus consecrated. The practo their proper dignity, let them en- tice may have had its origin among ter the school of Christ, submit them in their public religious serto the guidance of Omniscience, vices, being transferred from their and receive " the wisdom that is sacrifices to their social meals. from above." Then will they “un. See 1 Samuel x. 13, where the derstand the fear of the Lord, and people are mentioned as waiting at find the knowledge of God.” Then the sacrifice until Samuel came, will theirs be the wisdom whose “because he doth bless the sacrimerchandise is better than the mer. fice; and afterwards they eat.” chandise of silver, and the gain there. The custom is frequently men. of than fine gold,-more precious tioned in the New Testament. ihan rubies. Then might they look Thus, our Saviour, when he fed forward to a world where all their the five thousand, “ took the five energies would find untiring em- loaves and the two fishes and look. plov, and where their delighted ing up to heaven, blessed and souls would vie with celestial spirits brake," and distributed them among in the praises ofHim who was slain the multitude. And when he fed