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spirit of sin from those who trust in him; as he is here described to have cast out that, which possessed this demoniac boy.

Thus much for the evidence which this expression of the father gives to the truth of the gospel history. Secondly, what state of mind does it show in himself? It shows in the first place a belief in the power of Jesus to work the cure he desired. He himself declares such a belief—Lord, I believe;" and the fact of the miracle having been wrought, proves that this belief was real. At the same time, as we have already limited the extent of this faith, so now may we see, that in kind too it was not altogether of that character, which, we might be disposed to imagine, could alone find acceptance with God. His faith in the power of the Lord to work the miracle was evidently but weak and trembling. Nothing can show this more plainly than his own words. If thou canst do any thing,” he says, have compassion on us, and help us. He neither felt, nor expressed any certain conviction of the power of Jesus. His mind hovered between hope and fear, between confidence and irresolution

Help thou mine unbelief." Satisfied, as he probably was, by the testimony he had heard, that our Saviour possessed a power beyond that of mortal man; unable to refuse his assent to the evidence afforded by his works, still the greatness of the


miracle to be wrought recurred perhaps to his mind, and staggered his rising faith ; and desirous, as he must have been, to believe in hope, he could not prevent fears and anxious doubts from mingling themselves with his expectations.

Now how many persons are there, whose state of mind, in the weightier matter of the saving faith of a Christian, is not, in some respects, very

unlike that of the father in my text! How


who believe—but with a very wavering and uncertain belief! How many, whose reason yields an assent to the evidence of Christianity, while faith has yet no real root in their hearts! How many in short, who believe, or think they believe, but still have but too much need that the Lord should help their unbelief!

It is perhaps hardly possible to comprise among these that large class, who, calling themselves Christians, never bestow a thought upon the religion they profess—who know not either what to believe, or what to disbelieve—who are Christians, because they were born in a Christian country, and were baptized in infancy into the faith of the Redeemer, but neither know, nor think, nor care, what that faith is. Such persons may have no fixed principles of unbelief, because they have no fixed principles on the matter at all. They profess probably to believe; though they can hardly think that they do so.

And if from their careless inconsiderateness unbelief has not been established in their head; it is but too probable, that it has established a securer and firmer dominion in their heart. Still even these persons have thus much at least in common with this Jewish parent, that, if ever they are to be Christians in heart, as well as in name, they can only be made so by the Lord helping, and that mightily, their unbelief.

All those persons again, who, having made some enquiry on the subject, and not doubting that the gospel is true historically, yet look upon it in little other light than any other piece of history-who believe, that Jesus Christ appeared on earth at the time there declared, and did the things therein recorded; yet feel little power of applying this belief to their own souls—who, though they do not indeed doubt that after death comes judgment, yet cannot bring themselves to reflect that in that day they will have to give an account of the things done in the flesh—who do not deny, that Jesus Christ came to call sinners to repentance; but cannot consider that call as addressed to themselves —though after a sort indeed they believe, yet much do they require, that the Lord should help their unbelief.

They again, to whose minds the difficulties and

objections raised against religion, though once removed, occur again and again—who, though they have examined the evidences of our faith, and assent to its truth, are yet staggered by obstacles, and harassed by doubts, in order that they may stand fast in the faith without wavering, need much the aid of the Lord to help their unbelief.

And lastly, even with the truest servants of their Lord, there are times, when the clear prospects of faith seem for a moment obscured--when seeing, as St. Paul says, as through a glass, it is indeed but darkly—when the clouds come, as it were, over the soul, and the light of God's countenance appears no longer to shine. In such times as these, the Christian, sincere, but weak in faith ; believing, but yet doubting, and for the moment involved in clouds and gloom, will readily adopt the humble language of the father of this suffering child, and cry out with him, Lord, I believe : help thou mine unbelief."

If then, at all times to most, and sometimes to all, the language of this petition would not be unsuited—if our belief do, indeed, want such increase and such improvement, that it may not be termed unbelief—the next question is, how this, which we thus admit to be desirable, is to be effected. And here the answer may be derived from the same source which has suggested the enquiry. It is the

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Lord who must help our unbelief. Faith, pure, firm, trusting, and undoubting, is the gift of God, and from him alone can be obtained. Lord," said the disciples, “ increase our faith ;" and the same prayer well becomes the mouth of his disciples now in every stage of their Christian course. It is the teaching of the Holy Spirit which can alone enlighten the eyes of our understanding to see, and open our hearts to entertain the mysteries of divine truth. It is the unction from the Holy Onewhich enables those who receive it to know all things 6.The natural man cannot know the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned"."

How this may be—how faith may be required by God of man, and still be the gift of God to manhow the heart can thus be under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit, and still man be responsible for the feelings of that heart—how, in short, the supreme power of the Almighty is compatible with the free moral agency of man, is a question which we need not now enter into: or rather, is a question, which we need not enter into at all, now or ever; for assuredly we should enter into it in vain. Let us rather receive it as a truth revealed by God, on a subject utterly beyond the reach of man. It is a truth, which may be perplexed by

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71 Cor. ii. 14.

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