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utmost is a momentary pleasure followed by eternal regret. Even in the work of obedience there is peace, and in keeping God's commandments there is a present great reward. But what is laid up in heaven for them that lave Him, none can tell,
THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity: and that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
10 soon as the good seed was sown in the
field of the world the enemy came and sowed tares, according to our Lord's representation in His beautiful parable on the subject. Satan has been diligently employed in disseminating “ false doctrine, heresy, and schism," ever since the gospel began to be preached. Various infernal means have been devised and tried for the purpose of rendering the gospel of no effect; and alas! in many instances, with fatal success. Among the various heretical opinions which have prevailed in the church, one has run parallel with Christianity-it commenced with its birth, and has grown with its growth. The error alluded is the merit of human works. By this fundamental heresy we find that the Galatian church was in danger of being misled soon after its plantation, as appears by St. Paul's Epistle addressed to them, wherein he combats the notions which some judaizing teacha ers had propagated, with a warnath of spirit which nothing but the hostility of those notions to the very existence of Christianity could have justified. Towards the close of his Epistle he sums up the doctrine of orthodoxy in a few
words: ci In Christ Jesus neither circumcision “ availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but “ faith which worketh by love.” With respect to the dispensation of the Gospel, there is no availableness in merely external circumstances to the promotion of salvation; the “ one thing “ needful” is “ faith which worketh by love." No works of righteousness, ceremonial or moral, afford any meritorious ground of hope to a lost sinner. The Jew and Gentile, in this respect, are on a level. The former has no basis for confidence but Christ Jesus; the latter is no more disqualified than the former for deriving salvation from Him. 'A dependance on any thing but Him in the pursuit of salvation must be fatal. That faith which embraces Him as the only and all-sufficient Saviour, and relies exclusively on His merit, and which always evidences itself by its proper fruits, is the essential mean of human salvation, without which no man can be justified in the sight of God. And therefore the Apostle says in another place,
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners “'of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not “ justified by the works of the law, but by the « faith of Jesus Christ-even we have believed er in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by “ the faith, of Christ, and not by `the works of " the law: for by the works of the law shall no « flesh be justified.'
For an increase of this justifying « faith,” and of its inseparable concomitants hope and
charity,” the members of our church, who are in tenderness of judgment supposed to be already partakers of these graces, are taught to pray in our collect for this day. It consists of two petitions; the former imploring a growth of
the three cardinal branches of the Christian character; and the latter, ability for the practical exercise of these virtues.
A review of the first petition will lead us to contemplate--The nature and distinct offices of these graces;-Their order and mutual connection with each other;-The fountain from which they are all derived ;-And the propriety of our prayer for their increase.
By the word “FAITH,” as used in our collect, we are to understand that principle in the soul to which salvation is so annexed by the word of God, that without it no one can be saved, and with it no one can perish. • He that believeth, “ and is baptized, shall be saved; and he that « believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark xvi. 16.) It is carefully to be distinguished from the faith of miracles, a merely historical assent to Divine truth, or a temporary belief of it. The faith of miracles, whether active or passive, whether it respected the communication or reception of an extraordinary Divine agency, had no regard whatever to the personal salvation either of its instrument or recipient. (See Matt. vii. 22, ix. 2, and xvii. 20. John xi. 40.1 Cor. xiii. 2.) An historical assent is given by thonsands to Divine Truth, of which they never entertain a doubt, who are, nevertheless, utter strangers to “ the faith of God's elect." Such was the faith of Agrippa, who, though he believed the prophets, was only “almost persuaded to be a Christian.' (Acts xxvi. 27.) And such is the faith of which St. James speaks as common to many persons with the devils who “ believe and tremble.” (James ii. 19.) The faith of devils indeed is a more influential principle than that of many who acquiesce in the
truth of the Scriptures. There is also a temporary faith which approaches nearer to the true principle of Godliness than either of the former, but which is nevertheless essentially deficient. Of this kind is the effect produced on stony-ground hearers of the gospel." (Matth. xiii. 20, 21.) Such also was the faith of those who, being struck with the doctrine of the Baptist, “ were willing for a time to rejoice in “ his light.” (John v. 35.) And of the same kind is the faith of those who are mentioned (Hebrews vi. 4, 5, 6) as “ being enlightened, “ tasting of the heavenly gift, and being made
partakers of the Holy Ghost; as tasting the “ good word of God, and the powers of the “ world to come, and yet falling away.”
From these a saving faith essentially differs, both in its nature and effects, as we shall presently see more fully. In its nature, it is “ the substance “ of things hoped for, and the evidence of “ things not seen.” In its effects, it “ worketh
by love," and is productive of salvation: " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou “ shalt be saved.” (Acts xvi. 31.)
The faith of which our collect speaks is a habit wrought in the soul by the Spirit of God, through the ministry of His word and sacraments, whereby the word of God, the gospel which it reveals, and the promises which it contains, are understood, embraced, and applied to the heart for the purpose of justification, sanctification, and eternal salvation. It is not a temporary act of the mind, but the temper, disposition, and tendency of the heart. It is the nature of the new-born soul to trust in Christ, as it is the nature of ivy to embrace the wall or tree near to which it grows, and with