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“ing you have been against God, aiming, as it “ were, to pull him down from his throne; that “ you have been not only a ring-leader in all evil
among your associates, but that your heart “ has been a very hell for iniquity. You know “ that God is holy; that he hates sin, even the “ least sin. How then can you ever think of “ being saved? The soul that sinneth, it shall die. “ You had better never give the subject another “ thought, for yours is a hopeless state!” In this manner Satan assaults the heart: gaining assent to his representations, and keeping the mind blinded to the gospel, the poor sinner is brought into a complete subjection; and these devices operating upon his unbelief, he indeed concludes, “There is no hope !"
How great the mercy, however, that where this awakening is of God, though Satan and unbelief may have such power, yet they shall not hold the soul captive. No: God will say in his own time, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom. Job xxxii.
II. Unbelief discovers itself in discrediting the promises. The promises are given, as the ground and warrant of faith, as the foundation of the soul's approach to God; they are our great encouragements to come to God for the attainment of every saving blessing. For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that dili- . gently seek him. Heb. xi. 6. The promises can never fail those who rely upon them. For he is faithful who has promised; he cannot deny himself. The promises are also completely adapted to our circumstances. From the first moment of conviction, to the issue of grace in glory, there are given to us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might be partakers of the divine nature. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isa. lv. 7. But how ready is unbelief to suggest some difficulty! Though God says to the person, convinced that this is his very character, I will ; yet unbelief is bold to say, “ I fear he will not!" Though God says he will abundantly pardon, yet unbelief cannot credit or receive the divine testimony! Though God says, Ask, and ye shall receive; yet unbelief says, “I fear I shall not “ receive if I ask !” Does God go on to say, Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened? Still unbelief will not fail to suggest, that although we may seek and knock, yet there is something seen in us, on account of which God will not impart the blessing pro
mised. For unbelief is closely allied to a spirit of legality, and therefore will represent to us, that failing in some certain state of mind requisite to the obtaining the promise, we must come short of it. Does Jesus say, Come unto me, all ye. that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest? How ready is unbelief to suggest, “ But I am not weary and heavy laden enough. “ I have not yet felt sufficiently distressed, nor “ has sin yet lain sufficiently heavy upon my
heart, to warrant me to expect what is here “ promised.” Does the gracious Redeemer say, I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely? Rev. xxi. 6. Unbelief will then reply, “ Consider how strong “ the term here used is: though I may have had “some desires after religion, yet they have been “ but faint; whereas thirsting denotes vehe“mency of desire. If I have had desires, yet “they have been inconstant, and have been “ succeeded with carelessness, whether I obtain“ed the blessing or not; but this thirsting re“ fers to such a state of mind, as the traveller “ feels in a hot and desert land, whose desire for “ the cooling brook never leaves him until he has « refreshed himself at its stream!” This is the way in which unbelief cavils at the promises ; affixing such considerations to them, as may hinder the soul from embracing them. Upon this our in
nate propensity Satan works, until, in many instances, alarmed sinners have been driven away from those very scriptures, upon which we must rest, if ever we come to Jesus :
“ Thus he supports his cruel throne
Nor is it only with those who are under their first concern that Satan intermeddles, by thus placing himself between the promise and them; but his aim is, as much as possible, to hinder those from the comfort of the promises, who have, through rich grace, been enabled to surmount the obstacles just mentioned. The christian is in difficulties, and the word addresses him, In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Prov. iii. 6. Here unbelief promotes distress, by representing that the promise belongs only to those, whose hearts are steadily fixed, trusting in the Lord; that this is what is meant by acknowledging him, and that these persons only have a right to the promise, Of our conscious mistrust and backwardness to believe, Satan will not fail to take advantage; and will easily add, “ You know that you have “ been denying both the wisdom, power, and “ sovereignty of God, by your wishing to have " the things which you desire brought to pass in your own time and way; therefore it is pre
sumption in you to expect that God will ap“pear in your behalf.”
behalf.” Does God say, Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me? Psalm 1. 15. Here a variety of scruples are admitted, as to the day of trouble, and the soul's exercise and employment in it. "Perhaps it is such a day as " I have never seen ;
be trouble of a dif66 ferent kind from mine. Or if the same, yet " it may be I have not the measure of trouble
which is to warrant me to expect deliverance. “ Moreover, God expects earnest believing prayer, “ but my heart is cold, and I feel even my fears, “ when I attempt to pray." In such ways as these does unbelief put far away the word of comfort; which word, if faith were in exercise, would be nigh, even in our mouth and in our heart ; that is, says Paul, the word of faith which we preach. Rom. x. 8.
God's promise stands good, When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, &c. Isa. xliii. 2. Yea, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Heb. xiii. 5. This engages the gracious presence of God with his people in the hour of death; but ah, how do fears and doubts disturb the minds of many in prospect of that day!
“ When I tread the verge of Jordan,