|« Prev||Sermon XXXIV. Preached November 26, 1693.||Next »|
And the scripture was fulfilled, &c.
WE have shewed what this faith doth suppose. Now we come, in the second place, to shew What it doth import. And this we shall let you see by shewing you, 1. What this faith doth more essentially include and denote; and then also, 2. What things it doth connate, that do go along with it, and which must come into consideration, as ordinarily this faith is to be expressed Godward; and so will greatly heighten this friendship towards God, and represent it so much the more a generous and a glorious thing.
I. Consider as to the import of this faith, what it more essentially includes and carries in it. As,
1. Such an assent to the gospel as draws the heart along with it. That faith upon which God doth justify and save, is not a dead, inanimate thing. “It is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” Rom. x. 10. Such a faith as doth not carry the heart along with it signifies nothing, doth nothing any more (as the apostle speaks in the close of this chapter) “than a carcase would do without the soul.” And this matter, if it were well considered, would easily reconcile these two great apostles, which do both of them discourse so distinctly and designedly about Abraham’s faith as the precedent to the whole community of believers, in reference to the matter of justification. It was far from the thoughts of this apostle, (as is most evident) to think that faith, be it never so lively, so active and operative, could signify any thing to procure acceptance, or cause God to look upon a believer with so much the more favourable and propitious an eye. If it be never so much a living thing, it signifies nothing, as to obtaining divine acceptance. Nor did it ever come into the mind of the other apostle, to suppose that an unactive, dead faith, would serve the turn to bespeak a man accepted with God. It is very plain this one thing agrees with them both. And it is the apostle Paul’s expression, mentioned to you before, “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” Not that when he believes unto righteousness, his faith procures that righteousness to be reckoned 431to him, or that is any cause of it. But God will never clothe any such one with righteousness, whom he doth not also inspire with a spirit of faith, with a vital faith, with a faith full of vital power, that accompanies it and goes along with it. Both being from the same fountain of grace, in two distinct streams, the collation of righteousness, and the communication of faith. And these do not cause one another; but the grace of God in Christ causeth both. As when two streams go from one fountain, one stream doth not cause the other stream, but the fountain causeth both.
And it is very observable to this purpose, how joint a testimony these apostles bear to one and the same thing, in that (Acts xv. 9,) “God put no difference between Jews and Gentiles, purifying their hearts by faith.” He accepts a Jew as well as a Gentile, and a Gentile as well as a Jew, without difference; makes no difference, purifying their hearts by faith. If they have such an operative faith as shall be accompanied and followed with heart purity, there shall be no difference that one was a Jew and the other was a Gentile. And it is to be considered to the present purpose, that both these apostles were in this synod at the same time; and there was nothing but the fullest consent among the holy members; all inspired by the Holy Spirit of that assembly at that time. These, indeed, were Peter’s words; but you find James speaking afterwards. And Paul was sent from Antioch thither. But what was agreed there, seemed meet to the Holy Ghost and to them, as the matter is concluded and shut up. No difference was put between one and another, a Jew and a Gentile, faith purifying their hearts. If they did agree in that, they could differ in nothing considerable besides. And God will make no difference, purifying their hearts by faith; that must make and argue this faith to be a moving, active thing in them. Stagnant waters are dead; springing waters are wont to be called living—aquae salientes. It is such a faith as carries an agitation with it in a man’s soul. So that whereas it is a fountain agitated by that faith, it will be a self-purifying fountain. Fountains purify themselves—standing waters do not so. This fountain it hath a self-purifying power put into it; not as if it hath this of itself, but as the Divine Spirit, moving the fountain by a vital principle put into it purifies it; and this was the agreed concurrent sense of these godly inspired men, met at Jerusalem at this time. A mighty testimony it was against that dead, spiritless faith, in which a great many place all their 432confidence for eternity and another world. I am a believer, and, ergo, I am safe, I am well. What a believer are you? What doth your faith do? Doth it move your heart? Doth it carry your soul with it? Is there a spirit or power of faith working in your faith? Doth it operate? Doth it transform? It is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. But when any must say, My faith lets my heart lay as a dead thing still, as dead as a stone; an impure thing still,—as impure as a heap of mud;—is this indeed, the faith upon which you will venture for eternity? A faith that effects nothing, a mere negative faith; to wit, a faith which only stands in not believing the contrary, or not disbelieving such and such things. You do not disbelieve such and such things. No more doth a brute disbelieve them. If that be all your faith, a brute may have as good a faith as you; that is, that you do not believe the contrary, or you do not believe such and such things.
But then you are to consider what it is that faith, which avails to justification and salvation, doth believe; or what it is the belief of, as well as what sort of believing it is. That is, that representation which God makes of himself in Christ, as willing to become our God. See how he did represent himself to Abraham, when it was said, that Abraham believed God, upon which he was counted righteous. Why he tells Abraham he would make him a blessed man, make him a blessing, make all the nations of the earth blessed in him. He tells him of a seed, by which seed eminently and most principally the apostle tells us, Gal. iii. 16, was meant Christ. “Not to seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed which is Christ.” Christ, as comprehending the whole community of living believers in himself. It was such a faith, ergo, as Abraham had, as by which he apprehended God in Christ and was thereupon drawn into covenant with him. “I will establish my covenant with thee.” And that covenant the apostle to the Galatians also tells us, was the covenant of God in Christ, which was but then confirmed with Abraham. Not first made; it was but confirmed when it was made with Abraham; so as that the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after it, could not disannul it. It was a covenant not to be disannulled, being a covenant of God in Christ, and, ergo, must be understood to be made from the beginning, from the first apostasy. But with Abraham it was confirmed. It was the representation of God in Christ that was the object of this faith. And this faith 433a thing full of life and spirit and power, in, reference to this object, God in Christ. Our Saviour himself testifies that Abraham: saw his day, at that great distance of time, and rejoiced in the sight. “He saw it, and was glad.” It is such a faith of this discovery of God in Christ, as doth affect the whole soul, and mightily operate to the centre of the heart itself. It is such a faith upon which God justifies and saves. But such a faith cannot but carry great friendliness in it, when it carries a man’s heart towards God; and that you know is the seat of friendship. How canst thou say thou lovest me, when thy heart is not with me? When the heart is attracted and drawn to God in Christ, here is friendship. It is carried in the very essence of this faith. It is faith that raiseth desire in the heart. Oh, that I might have this God for my God in Christ, and come into most inward union with him. It is a faith that raiseth hope in the soul; such an assent to the truth of the representation, upon which the soul doth not only desire, “Oh, may I have this God for my God;” but hope too that it shall, that it may. As no doubt there were such affections raised in Abraham’s heart upon that disco very which God made of himself to him. I am God, all sufficient, walk before me, and be thou perfect; and I will establish my covenant with thee. Such a treaty, such a transaction as this, when God did thus represent himself, and the representation was believed, could not but raise such affections in such a soul. Now here is the very heart and soul of friendship in all this. All this speaks a friendly mind, a propense mind toward God in Christ. And,
2. Upon such a vivid, lively, operative assent, there ensues (as what is most essential to this faith too) an appropriation of God in Christ for ours. This is the complexus fidei by which it doth embrace its object. “And herein this faith works by love.” Gal. v. 6. And love, you know, is the very form and essence of friendship, the vital form of friendship. It is a faith that works by love, wherewith the soul takes hold of God in Christ. We must suppose, in, order of nature, desire and hope to be raised before. But now here is the entire consent of the will animated by love, and closing with the amiable object, God in Christ. What a representation is here! saith the transported soul. And nothing now remains but to take hold; for I find here is a free offer made, and if I will have this God to be mine, I may; and if I will have this Christ to be mine, I may. 434What remains but to accept them? Nothing is more essential in this faith, than this appropriative and acceptive act, by which we take God for our God, and receive Christ for our Lord and our Jesus. “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord (this is the imitation of the Christian course) so walk ye in him.” Col. ii. 6. And again,
3. There is the soul’s self-resignation carried also, as most essential in this faith. And that is the most friendly thing too that can be conceived. As there is the greatest friendliness hi accepting, sure there must be equal friendliness in giving, when it is oneself delivering up oneself. When the soul accepts, appropriates this God, this Christ, falls before him, saith My Lord and my God, it hereby conies into that vital unitive closure with him that speaks, as much as any thing can, the very heart and soul of friendly love, as hath been said. But then also, when at the same time it doth receive and give, takes God in Christ, and gives itself, delivers up itself; What? Can this be the act or part, or heart of an enemy? Will I give away myself to an enemy? or to whom I bear an enemy-mind? a disaffected mind? This can never be, I received God in Christ from the apprehension I have of the great and glorious excellencies and suitableness of the object. To as many as believe, he is precious. (1 Pet. ii. 7.) So saith the soul concerning Christ, who is the immediate object of this faith. And it hath the like apprehensions concerning God, who is the final, terminative object of it. “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” Ps. lxxiii. 25. These do both of them equally influence this accepting and this giving. I take God in Christ for mine, because I have those high and great and honourable thoughts of God in Christ. I give myself to God through Christ, for the same reason, upon the same account, as having the highest and most honourable thoughts of them both. And in this resignation, or surrender, we are to consider that as friendliness hath the plainest part that can be, so trust and faith have an essential ingrediency hereinto. Or (which is all one) that resignation hath an essential ingrediency into such faith. For when I give up myself, with what temper of mind is it? I do not give up myself to destruction, but I give up myself in order to salvation. This resignation is in trusting or committing of ourselves: “I know whom I have believed, and that he will keep what I have committed to him to that 435day.” That committing of ourselves speaks a most friendly mind. Would any one commit himself to an enemy, or to one towards whom he bears the heart of an enemy? And,
4. This faith doth most essentially include an heart-quieting recumbency, so far as this faith prevails. It is not in degree perfect; but we speak of the nature of it, of the kind of it. It carries with it an heart-quieting recumbency, so that the soul doth abet its own act in what it doth herein, as the mentioned expression imports. “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed.” Not ashamed, why, what room or place can there he for shame in such a case? Yes, if a man hath mistaken; if he thinks he doth the part of a fool, he hath reason to be ashamed. But saith he, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed: therefore he abets his own act in this matter. It was the wisest course that ever I took in all this world, to dispose of myself so, so to commit myself: it is a thing wherein I can justify myself to the highest, that I have made this venture. It hath not been a rash, inconsiderate act. It is not a thing I am ashamed of, I shall never repent of it. Repentance carries shame with it. What ever act I repent of, I am ashamed of it, as having done a foolish thing, betrayed weakness and impotency of mind in what I have done. But I shall never be ashamed of this. For I know whom I have believed, that he will keep, and is able to keep too, with an engaged ability, that I have committed to him (my pledge, my depositum) against that day. Still there is in this the greatest friendliness; that I can repose myself in the faithfulness and truth of him to whom I have committed myself, and upon whom I have placed my reliance in reference to the greatest concernments that can lie upon my heart.
II. Consider as to the import of this faith. Not only what it more expressly denotes, but (as the case is) it must connote. And it doth indeed connote many great and concurrent difficulties which render the friendliness that is in it so much the more generous and glorious a thing. As,
1. This trust is placed upon one whom we never saw. I trust to one altogether out of sight. Look to the final object, God himself; the invisible God, whom no man hath seen, nor can see. And for the intermediate object, Christ, as to the most parts and most ages of the world, hitherto unseen. Even in that time wherein he might have been seen on earth, yet to a great many Christians he 436had not been seen. As Peter writes to the scattered Jews, though he lived and died in their country. But they were scattered, and in a dispersion, yet he saith, “Whom having not seen, ye love,” &c. A glorious thing, and speaks a friendly mind. So far to trust one I never saw, and never can see. If you were persuaded to put your trust in such and such an one that you hear of, you would say I never saw his face. Trust him! Why should I trust one I never saw? That is no argument against this trust. I will trust him, (saith the believing soul) though I never saw him, nor can see him. I have such an account of him, and know so much of him in a way wherein I cannot be mistaken, cannot be deceived, though I never saw him, nor ever expect to see him, (to wit, the invisible God with eyes of flesh) yet will I trust in him without a suspicious, misgiving heart. Here is glorious friendliness. And,
2. Here is this in the case too—it is trusting in him when one hath offended. This makes the difficulty the greater, and so the friendliness that appears in it is the more considerable and glorious. Any body that considers will easily apprehend how hard a matter it is to trust a person you know you have offended. I know I have displeased such an one, and yet to trust him, yet to place your trust in him. This is arduous, and so speaks this friendliness of mind so much the greater a thing.
3. It is trusting him with your very souls. This is yet higher, when my own convinced conscience tells me I have offended him, I have given him the highest and greatest cause of offence imaginable, and yet I will trust him, and trust him even with my very soul—the greatest and most considerable thing I have. This is high friendliness. The trust one placeth in any one is so much the more considerable and great, as the things are greater he trusts him with. As I say I trust such an one with such a sum of money, or I trust such an one with the management of such a part of my estate, or I trust such and such commodities that I value in his hands: This argues a kind and friendly propension that you will trust him so far. When you say I dare put my life into such a man’s hand, this is a great trust and great friendliness. But when it comes to this, the intrusting your very souls, this is the highest friendship that can be thought. And you have nothing else to do with your souls, you must intrust them. Men’s hearts must be won to Christ thus far, that they may 437intrust their very souls with him. “Into thy hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Ps. xxxi. 5. And,
4. There is this further in the case, that you are to put your trust there only. That he is to be the only object of your trust. So that if this trust fail, you are lost. For you must not have another object of your trust. This is still the so much more glorious. Trust in him will consist with no other dependencies. It is the highest act of worship that can be performed, and it is a glory that God will not give to another. He will have no rival in his honour. It is the prerogative of Deity to be the object of trust even of the whole soul. Therefore, so much the greater thing is this trust.
5. You are to consider great humiliation, and self-abasement, accompanying this trust, which makes it so much the more generous a thing; for when you are to trust him alone, you are to distrust yourself. When you are to place a confidence in him, there must be a most absolute diffidence in yourself. I am nothing, I am vile, my own righteousness is but filthy rags. Whatsoever I might pretend to under that notion, it is all loss, and dross, and dung, in comparison of what I expect, of what I seek, and what I am to rely upon,” as the apostle’s expressions are, Phil. iii. 5, 6. There is the greatest submission in this trust. Observe that in Rom. x. the apostle gives the true reason why the proud Jews were so much hardened in infidelity that they would not submit to the righteousness of God: They knew not how to submit. There was so much of submission in it to comply with God’s way and method of justifying and saving sinners, that they would no way in the work! comport with. Their proud hearts could not endure it. If I place my trust, my soul trust, so and so, I must nullify myself; I must diminish myself to nothing; I must throw away all hopes in myself; I must allow myself to be a lost creature, a perishing creature, one deserving and worthy to perish, and to be thrown away for ever. Why one would not do so but towards one to whom we have a friendly mind! one may endure so to humble himself, to nullify himself towards a friend; but one would be loth to do so “towards an insulting enemy, or to give him that occasion of insulting over us. And again,
6. This trust is placed upon one who will surely vindicate all inclinations to place trust any where else. He is one that I have offended, and if I falter in my trust, if I grow 438suspicious of him, and think of placing my trust elsewhere, he will be offended a thousand times more. He thunders out curses if I decline, if my heart prevaricate, if I lean towards any other trust. “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the living God.” This is a great adventure, and that which only a friendly mind would carry one to, where there is so much hazard in the case. I trust when I have offended, I trust when if I he not right and steady to my trust, I offend a thousand times more; and yet I will venture, for my heart is towards him. Nothing shall discourage me, nothing shall keep me off from him.
7. It is trust to be placed without any favourable appearances to flesh and sense; for he promiseth me nothing that will be grateful in these respects: promiseth me nothing to which my flesh and sense have an aptitude and propension, or are like to receive any gratification by. If I do unite myself with him, intrust myself unto him, list myself one of his disciples, a devotee, one given up to God in Christ, what shall I get by it? He doth not promise houses and lands, or great things in this world; no such matter. But yet the believing soul will trust and unite with him, and give up itself unto him: this is great, and argues a strong propension of a friendly mind. And,
8. It is not only without such favourable appearances, but is against most formidable appearances. If I intrust myself here, and so dispose of myself, (as the disposal begins in the union of heart with God and Christ) I expose myself, at the same time, to all that a wicked world can do against me. When I make this venture, I must venture with him upon a raging and tempestuous ocean. I have all the troubles in view that this world, and the God of this world, the usurping God of this world, can give me. I am to expect nothing but storms and tempests and death on every hand. Yet the soul will believe not only without hope, (as such was Abraham’s faith) but against hope, Rom. iv. 18, which makes it so much the more a glorious thing. And again,
9. This trust is thus placed, notwithstanding, not only against what is feared, but against what is felt by the believing person himself, in reference to himself, and generally to the whole community of believers. He meets himself, it may be, with a great deal of affliction; yet he will trust. Rough severities of providence many times, and the appearances of an enemy, are put on. God marshals up his own terrors as the world marshals up its terrors in battle-array 439against him. But, saith a believing soul, “though he kill me, yet will I trust in him.” Job xiii. 15. I will die at his feet; I will never leave him. Though “we are killed all the day long, and counted as sheep for the slaughter, nothing shall part us. Ps. xliv. 11. quoted Rom. viii. 36-39. Though we be trodden down into the place of dragons, and covered with the dust of death, no matter for that; we will never leave thee. We appeal to him, whether he yet see an inclination in us to deal falsely with him in his covenant. No, we will run through a thousand deaths for his sake, with confidence “that neither tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword, neither death, nor life, nor any other creature,” shall ever work a separation. And this is high friendliness; sure the persons must needs be understood to be of a friendly mind towards God. And though not only this be their own experience, but they see it to be the common experience of the whole community of believers. Look upon former times and ages. There are whole armies of glorious sufferers and martyrs, whose records they can see and read over. What have these people endured and suffered for his sake! And yet they would trust him, yet they would cleave to him, and nothing would make them turn aside from following him. When you look back upon such an age and such an age, you find there have been multitudes could shew their scars, their wounds, their blood: This we have endured for the sake of God and Christ. And yet they would trust him still. “Be ye followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” and are gone before into glory. Hare is “the faith and patience of the saints.” Where are they that have kept the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus, the faith of Jesus, “that have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of his testimony, and loved not their lives unto the death?” as we have it in Rev. xii. 11. There is great friendliness in such a trust as this. Especially when, as
10. We shall consider that they expect no recompense for all this. See their fidelity, all their love, all their sufferings in this world; they never look to be recompensed here. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” It is not in this life that they have hope of recompence; their great hope of recompence is here after. When Abraham in the power, and in fruit of such a faith, quitted his all in this world, Abraham, saith God, “get thee up from thy kindred, from thy country, and from thy father’s house.” It is by faith, it is said, he obeyed, and 440went, he knew not whither. Into what unknown country must I go? (he might say.)—It is no matter for that, whether you know or not; but follow God’s call: and he abandons all, and follows. He trusts, makes a venture in the dark. This is the very nature of faith. Some pagans have understood so much about it. So our noted Voagan among the Platonists speaks of a faith above knowledge, that unites the soul most intimately with the supreme good; and which when a man doth act and exercise, they that have this faith, and are in the exercise of it, they do express it (as his expression is) shutting their eyes. They shut their eyes and trust, wink and trust. So doth Abraham in this:—go your ways into a country you know not—he goes by faith, he obeyed, and went, he knew not whither. I can (as if he had said) give no man an account whither I go; I am only obeying and following the divine call. It is in an unknown country that we all, who are believers indeed, are to expect our recompense. Where was it that he expected this? was it any interest in a terrestrial Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey? No: he deemed himself when there but in a strange country, to which he had such a right, as we nor any man in the world had before to any spot of earth, by an immediate divine grant, a grant from Heaven: the great possessor of heaven and earth assigns this spot for him and his posterity, and yet he behaves himself there as in a strange country; he, and Isaac and Jacob, that were heirs with him of the same promise, they declared themselves to be pilgrims and strangers upon the earth. The believer will say, Set me down any where upon earth and it is none of my country, whatsoever right I may have, as they had in that land. No; their faith was to cast anchor for them. But where? with in the veil; within such an intexture as kept every thing from their view; an interjected veil; a veil cast between, and woven between them and the great object of their hope. But yet for all that, they trust and they venture; they cast their anchor upon that “which is within the veil, whither Jesus the forerunner is for us entered.” This argues a strong propension of a friendly mind towards God, and towards his Christ, and towards this state of things, which they make the discovery and offer of. And in the last place,—
11. It is to be considered too, as that which signifies so much the more the friendliness of this faith; that it is a venture for eternity; such a sort of venture, that if I mistake, there is no correcting the mistake. If I misplace my 441trust, the matter admits of no alteration, no remedy: it is a trusting of my soul, and a trusting it for somewhat that lies out of my sight, and whence there is no return, no coming back for me to make any terms with this world to any advantage, if I have misplaced my trust. No, here is an adventure made, never to be altered. And the soul doth it with this apprehension, with this prospect. Here I must venture my all, and for eternity, for an everlasting state.
It is fit we should understand what such a faith as the faith of a sincere Christian is, that we may not delude ourselves with names and shows and false appearances. There must be the nature of this faith in all those that believe as Abraham did; and his faith was spoken of as a precedential faith; and as he was the father of believers, the great example. He was not to be justified and saved by one sort of faith and we by another, but he and we by the same faith. So much it carries with it of a friendly mind towards its blessed object. But let us now observe in the close of this present discourse, before we enter on the third head, what this faith inferreth. I have hitherto observed only what it imports, either as directly noted, or as connoted. I pray let us bethink ourselves. Are not we strangers to these exercises of mind and spirit?—is not this a region and sphere of things that we are unacquainted with, and wherein we are little wont to converse?—do we know what belongs to such applications of mind and spirit inwardly towards the blessed God, and towards the Lord Jesus Christ? If we altogether are so, our religion, our Christianity is a name, a show, a figment. If we are strangers to such applications of mind and spirit to God in Christ, and we have nothing that belongs to this friendly intercourse, I pray why is it? We would be loth to call ourselves God’s enemies and Christ’s enemies for all that. But yet he hath told us, he that is not with him is against him; and if we be indeed such friends to God and his Christ, such is to be seen in inward converse of heart and spirit with them; and nothing can excuse my not conversing with a friend, a great friend, a sincere friend, a wise friend, and a most obliging friend, but such things as these, for instance—Why, he is at a great distance, I cannot come at him. That is none of the case. He is not far from any one of us: “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” What can excuse our not conversing with him who is so constantly nigh? That request which you hare heard so much of, “The Lord Jesus be with thy 442spirit,” shews he continually may, and can be so. It is as possible as it is desirable, to have him with our spirits. What can excuse our slighting of a friend that we may be with every hour of the day, or every moment of the hour, if we will. What can excuse strangeness there, shyness there?
It cannot be said he is inaccessible: that would excuse: but there is no such thing. There is a throne of grace appointed on purpose, whereto we may freely approach: “there is a new and living way consecrated by the blood of Christ,” leading into the Divine Presence. You cannot say you have no business with him: that would excuse you that you do not converse with such and such a friend—I have other great business in the world, but with him I have none. You cannot say so as to God; you have constant business with him, and he hath constant business with you. It is he with whom you have continually to do; “all things are open to him with whom you have to do.” It is spoken in the present time, to shew that we have to do with him always; Heb. iv. 13. You cannot say your friend is so busy that he is at no leisure to mind you, if you come to him: no such thing; for you are directed “wherein so ever you are called therein to abide with God,” 1 Cor. vii. 24. Ergo, if you should find leisure, he would be always at leisure; he can mind every one, and will do so to those who apply themselves to him; “his eyes are ever towards the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” What can it signify but a disinclination and unfriendliness, that we have so little to do with God and Christ from day to day? It must signify, that other things so engage and take us up, that our concernments with God can have no room, no place in our hearts. They are things of another sphere, which we are most taken up about, and which appear to us more considerable—either the public affairs and concerns of a present world, or our own private ones. With a great many, we have too much cause to apprehend, the session of this present parliament is a far more considerable thing than that glorious consessus with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God. Those vast and glorious multitudes which are to make up that consessus. Oh, what friends are any society of men in comparison of the glorious society above! The affairs of this present time, let them be but considered in reference to the tract of time, what a little inch in the series of time is the present time of ours, about which many are so intensely engaged and taken up. When this juncture 443of time is over with us, look upon the affairs but two or three months after, and what do they all appear and signify then? and yet the matters that he within our inch of time are, with the most, more considerable than a vast and end less eternity, and have more of their serious thoughts. The great question is, What will become of me in the great day when all the children of God are to be associated together, to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, there? Here is the great question, and it will be determined upon this single point—Have I that faith that belongs to that society as their characteristical note, as their distinction, as that by which they that belong to God are to be known from them who do not belong unto him, an heavenly from an earthly race and offspring?—Let me look into myself, and discern my own state and character, and see if I have any such faith in me as includes and draws the whole frame and current of my soul and all its powers towards God, and Christ, and Heaven, and an eternal state of things.
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