Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Sermon XXXV

SERMON XXXV.

THE INFLUENCE OF FAITH IN JUSTIFICATION.

Eom. i. 16,17.—"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."

Is the last discourse, when showing how we are saved through the merits of Christ, it was remarked, that the means hy which we hecome interested in his merits, or by which they are made available to us, is faith. I propose now to show the influence of faith in our justification. The doctrine of the text is, that a man is considered just before God, and treated as such, not in virtue of his own works, but in virtue of his exercising faith in Christ. " For therein," that is, in the gospel, " the righteousness of God," or God's plan of regarding and treating men as righteous, "is revealed from faith to faith;" that is, by faith unto those who have faith, or who believe; " as it is written, The just shall live by faith," or those justified by faith shall have everlasting life. It is needless to prove at length that this is the settled doctrine of the New Testament. " Therefore we conclude," says the apostle in the third chapter of this epistle (ver. 28), "that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Again, " By the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference," Rom. iii. 20—22. So the apostle Paul says again, " A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ," Gal. ii. 16. In accordance with this, is the great doctrine which the Saviour taught his disciples to promulgate, as comprising all that he designed them to preach: " Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned," Mark xvi. 15,16. That is, there is no other method of being saved but by believing, or by faith; and if a man has not this, he must be lost.

Probably every one who^ias ever read these passages has been disposed to ask, Why is so much stress laid on faith in the plan of redemption f Why is it made so central, and so indispensable in the salvation of the soul? What inherent virtue is there in thia act that has given it such a pre-eminence over all other virtues 1 What is there in this that should make it a substitute for all the good works that men can perform ? Perhaps some will be disposed to add, that the system of Christianity is thus removed from all other systems, and is different from all the laws and principles on which men act in other things. Merit, in other cases, is not in accordance with a man's belief, but according to his virtues—his moral worth ; and why should, faith have such special eminence in the eye of God ? The rewards of this life are not distributed according to a man's faith or credulity; and why should the rewards of heaven be ? We judge of the excellency of a man's character, not according to the readiness with which he embraces what is proposed to hiin for his credence, but usually somewhat in proportion to his caution and the slowness of his belief; and why does religion require a man to hasten to believe that which is proposed to him, as if this were the chief of virtues ? When also a man is put on trial, he is acquitted, not because he exhibits au example of trusting in his judge or his advocate, but because he is able to vindicate his conduct; and why shall we not look for something analogous in religion 1 Why are pardon and hope, life and joy, heaven and glory, peace here and bliss hereafter, all made to depend on faith—the centre and the circumference, the beginning, the middle, and the end, according to the gospel, of every virtue ? These are inquiries which it is natural to make ; they are inquiries which the friend of Christianity should feel it to be a part of his vocation to answer. The relation or connexion which these questions bear to the subject before us is this:— Supposing that man has no merit of his own, as has been shown, and that there are infinite merits in the Redeemer through which we may be saved; why is it proper that we should avail ourselves of those merits only through faith? Why should faith be the instrument by which we may be treated as if those merits were ours ?

The answer to these questions is, that, in the circumstances of the case, faith constitutes a union with the Redeemer of such a nature as to make it proper to treat us substantially as he claims to be treated—that is, as righteous; to make it proper that we should share his happiness, his favour, his protection on earth, and his glory in heaven ; and that the union formed by faith between the soul and the Redeemer is Bo tender, so close, and so strong, as to imply an identity of interest, and to make it certain and proper that the blessings descending on him should, according to their capacity and wants, descend on those who believe. It is evident that the particular reason why faith has been selected as the means of this is, that it constitutes a union more close, firm, and enduring than any other virtue ; and that it meets more evils in the world than any other act of the mind would do. On this account, it is singled out from all other acts of the mind in tho plan of justifying men.

To many, these remarks may appear abstract and obscure. It is proposed therefore, in a series of observations, to show why faith is so important; why it is the very cardo rerum—the hinge of salvation. One other preliminary remark should be made: it is, that there is a great and essential difference hetvreenjiiith and credulity. We distinguish them accurately in common life; but we fear that they are sometimes confounded when men think of religion.

(1.) As we have already seen, faith acts an important part in the affairs of the world. Using the word in the sense of confidence, there is nothing else on which the welfare of society more depends, or which is more iudispensable to its prosperous and harmonious relations. It enters into everything, and we are every day and every hour acting under its influence, and depending on it as essential to all that we hold dear. It is the cement of families, of neighbourhoods, of governments, of nations. The faith of treaties, of compacts, of promises, of friendships, of affection, is that which holds the world together, and without which society would go to pieces. To loosen it at once would be like loosening every rope in a ship, or unscrewing every fastening and bolt in a machine. It is by faith, or mutual confidence, that the relations of domestic life are maintained ; that the harmony of a family is secured ; that business in a mercantile community is carried on ; that a banking institution effects the purpose for which it was chartered; or that a government can secure the ends for which it was instituted. It is by faith only that we derive lessons of valuable instruction from history, or that we act with reference to what is yet to come. If we had no more confidence in any of tho testimonies of history than we have in the fabulous details of the dynasties of India, the mythological periods of Grecian history, or the legends of the saints, all past history would be utterly useless, for it would conVey no certain lessons. If we had no faith in the stability of the course of events,—the rising of the sun, the moon, and the stars—the return of the seasons—the continuance of the laws of magnetism, of gravitation, or of vegetation,—we should form no plan for the future; we should neither plant a field, nor build a ship, nor vonture out on the ocean, where we might soon be without sun, or star, or compass. We confide in our teachers, in a physician, a counsellor, a clergyman; and it would he impossible that the cause of education, jurisprudence, or religion, could be maintained if thore were no such confidence. The farmer of the Eastern States believes in the vast fertility of the West, of which he has heard, but which he has never seen, and with his wife and children leaves the graves of his fathers to seek that land on the strength of his faith. The merchant believes that there is such a place as Canton or Calcutta, though he has seen neither, and on the strength of that faith would embark all his property in the same vessel, and stake the whole question about making a fortune in this world on his strong confidence that such places, of which he has heard, have an existence. In like manner, we are exercising confidence in everything. We believe the testimony of the historians, though we never saw Xenophon, or Thucydides, or witnessed the events of which they wrote; we vote for the man whom we have never seen; we confide in the bankers across the waters, whom we never expect to behold. Were it not for this unceasing confidence, and its varied operations, we could not get along for a single day or hour. The affairs of the world would at once stand still; the bands of society would at once become loosened; and everything would fall into irretrievable confusion.

It is true, there is much credulity in the world, and multitudes in all professions and relations in life are imposed on. But so also there is much counterfeit money, and many may be injured or ruined by it. But the existence of a circulating medium is indispensable, and there is by far more genuine than false coin at any time in the world, and any quantity of spurious coin does not render that valueless which is genuine. So, any amount of credulity does not prove that it is improper for men ever to repose confidence in one another, or that all faith is valueless.

("2.) The second observation illustrating the importance of faith with reference to the subject before us is, that faith is the strongest conceivable bond of union between minds and hearts. It is, in fact, the cement of all unions, and without which all else is valueless. In friendships, in treaties, in national compacts, in social intercourse, in the tender domestic relations, it is the very bond of union, and there is nothing else that can be a substitute for it. The seal, which is affixed to a letter that is sent to a friend, makes it secure, not because no one has power to break it, but because there is confidence iu each post-master through whose hands it may pass, and in each stranger or friend into whose hands it may happen to fall, that he will respect the seal, and will not break it. The piece of wax or wafer, that is appended to a written compact, makes it secure, not because neither of the contracting parties has power to break it, but because it is a pledge of mutual confidence. The seal, which is appended to a will, renders it secure, not because no one has power to break it, but because the testator has confidence that his friends and that the courts of his country will respect his wishes, when his mouth is for ever closed against the possibility of his declaring his deBires, and his hand powerless to assert his rights. A treaty between nations is secure, not by any inherent power in the parchment on which it is drawn, nor because the seal cannot be broken, but because this is the expression of the confidence which now subsists, the belief that both will regard it.

Look into the relations of life. What is it that forms and preserves those numerous unions on which the very existence of society depends ? What is the basis of the union of husband and wife, of parent and child, of brother and sister, of friend and friend ? What but mutual confidence ? And is it asked, What is the strength of that? In answer to these questions, an illustration may be employed taken from the most tender relation in life. This illustration is used because it is the very one more than once referred to on this subject in the Bible, and because it enters so vitally into the welfare of society. Here is a young man just entering on life. His character is fair; his profession is honourable ; his person and standing are liable to no objection, and no suspicion;—but what he may yet be no one earthly can tell, for no one can certainly predict what a man will be till he is tried. Here is a youthful female,—the joy of her mother, and the pride of her father's heart. She has been delicately trained ; has a home ihat has every attraction; is secure there of unfailing friends as long as her father and mother shall live; and has ample means of support. She breaks all these ties; leaves the home of her childhood; bids adieu to father, mother, brothers, and sisters, and commits herself into the hands of this comparative stranger. A father's and a mother's and a brother's love she exchanges for his. Her hand, her heart, her property, she gives to him. She pledges herself to go where he goes; to suffer what he suffers; to make his friends hers; to love him with an ardour with which she loves no other human being; to break away from every tie of country and home, if he shall will it; and, in a sense more absolute than exists in any other case, to commit her happiness into his hands. Every day and every hour that they will live, she is dependent on his prosperity, his virtue, and his smiles for her happiness ; and the moment his affections are withdrawn, or

he censes to be a virtuous man, her happiness is dead. If he is virtuous, faithful, and kind, she regrets not the act of confidence with which she gave him her heart and hand. But what if he trifles with her happiness? What if he always meets her with, a frown? What if he proves false to his vows? What if he becomes a wretched drunkard?—Now what has heen the foundation, and the source, and the strength of this union ? Confidence; and when that is gone, domestic peace dies. She has made a sacrifice of her happiness, and her earthly felicity is a wreck.

Let another thought be suggested here : it is, that this union of confidence secures an identity in their destiny. They are one— "one flesh," said the Saviour—and the same event will now affect both. Before this union, the storm might have beat on one of them, and sunshine gladdened the path of the other. Now, the storm and the sunshine come on both alike. The light that gladdens the eyes of the one, is also a pleasant thing to the other; the star that rises propitiously on one, rises propitiously also on the path of the other. The blessings of*peace and joy that greet the one, greet the other also. There is one heart, one pulsation, one breathing, one soul made up of the two. And so, if calamity comes. If, under the roof where they are to abide, the pale destroyer shall come with stealthy foot-tread, and change the rose on the cheek of a smiling babe to the lily of death, it will be a scene in which both their hearts will bleed alike, and they will weep together over the open grave. If one is sad, both are sad; if one is poor, both are poor; if around one the storms of life beat heavily, the tempest will beat on both. Their union, one pre-eminently of mutual faith plighted before the altar, constitutes an identity in all the great events of life, and secures to both substantially the same treatment from the Great Disposer of all things. They share the same fortune—the same honour or disgrace—the same sorrows and the same joys ; they are wafted on to a port of bliss, or are wrecked in the same vessel; they are greeted with the same welcome in life, they are buried in the same grave. It is easy to apply this illustration to the matter in hand.

(3.) The third illustration is, that faith is of such a nature that it is adapted to meet all the evils of the world. The idea is, that it has been made the hinge or turning-point of salvation, because the want of it has been the source of all the calamities which man has suffered, and because, if this is restored, the evils of the world would he at an end.

The grand evil on earth, and the source of all subordinate evils, is a want of confidence in God. This was the evil at the start, that man reposed more confidence in the teachings of tlie tempter than in the law of the Creator; and this has been the source of all onr woe. Man has no confidence in his God; does not believe that He is qualified for universal empire; that He manages the affairs of the universe well; that His law is equal and just; that His dispensations are in accordance with equity; that His plan of salvation is wise ;—he does not show confidence in Him by yielding implicit obedience to Hia laws, or by submitting to His dispensations;—he does not go to Him and ask counsel of Him in the darknesses and perplexities of life ; he does not seek support from His arm in times of calamity; he does not commit his great interests to Him, believing that He will be his guide through life, and that He will yet make "all things work together for good." But he confides in other things;—he confides in his own strength, till bis strength fails; in his philosophy, till it deludes and deceives him; in his fellow-men, till they all betray him; in friends and kindred, till they drop into the grave ; in his skill and sagacity, till he comes to a place in life where the " right hand forgets its cunning." He confides in stocks and stones, in graven images, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things; but by nature he has uo confidence in God.

This is the grand evil of the world, this the source of all our . woes; for, a want of confidence here produces the same kind of evils, though on a larger scale, as a want of confidence everywhere. We have seen that the welfare of society depends on mutual confidence. Now, to see how wretched any society can possibly be, we have only to suppose the existence there of the same want of confidence which subsists in man toward his Maker. What would be the result ? No man would know in whom to trust; no one could form a plan dependent in any manner on the fidelity of others ; no one could be certain that any of his purposes of life could be effected. The scene at Babel would bo re-acted again all over the world, and worse disorder than that which followed from confounding the languages of the people there, would pervade all classes and conditions of mankind. The remedy for such a state of thiugs would be the restoration of mutual confidence. In such a condition of ill, nothing would have so far-reaching an effect. It would, in fact, meet all those ills, and make society harmonious and happy. The wheels of commerce, of government, of domestic peace, of public improvement, of education, would again roll on harmoniously, and happiness would again bless the world. The want of faith or confidence in God has produced all the ills on earth of which those just supposed are but an emblem; the restoration of confidence in God would strike at

the root of all those ills, and make this a happy world. Tt is this which makes heaven happy, where every being has confidence in God, and in all that dwell there; and, with all our wants and sadnesses, this too would be a happy world if there were universal confidence in God. In our sorrows, we should then have peace, for we should believe that all is well-ordered; under our heavy burdens of life, we should find support, for we should go and roll all on his arm ; in all the dark and perplexing questions that now agitate us about the introduction of moral evil and the prevalence of iniquity, our minds would be calm, for we should feel that there was a reason for it all; and in the prospect of death—that which now makes us so sad—our hearts would find more than peace, we should utter the language of joy and triumph, for it would be only the coming of a messenger to bear us to a mueh-loved Father's arms. The grand thing that needs to be done on earth to make this a happy world, is to restore universal confidence in God; and this is the whole aim of religion—this the object of the scheme of redemption. Hence the necessity of faith is laid at the foundation of the whole scheme ; it is the cardinal thing in the plan, of salvation. This restored, what a happy world, after all, would this be! For it is a beautiful world. It is full of the proofs of God's goodness and love. There are a thousand comforts that meet us every day and every night, and a thousand tender cords that should bind us to our Creator. If we confided in Him as qualified for universal empire; if we felt that He isJt to manage the affairs of his own world ; if wo believed that He will yet bring order out of confusion, and light out of darkness; if we trusted that his law is good and his commandment holy ; and if we would go to Him with the confiding spirit with which a little child goes and tells all his troubles to his father, this would be still a happy world. For that grand undertaking of the Almighty Father of us all to restore unwavering confidence in himself, manifested in the gospel, the world should be unfeignedly thankful ; and one of the principal topics of praise on earth should be, that He has required faith as the very elementary principle of his religion.

(4.) A fourth remark in explanation of the subject is, that faith is required, or is made the condition of justification, for this reason:—there is an obvious propriety that, where salvation is provided and offered, there should be some act on our part signifying our acceptance of it. If we are to be saved through tho merits of Christ, there should bo some act indicating our wish or our will ; some expression of our desire in the case ; something that shall serve to distinguish us from those who are not saved. It evidently would not be proper, it would not be consulting the nature which God has given us, to receive the human race indiscriminately into heaven without any intimation of a wish to be saved ; nor would it be fitting to save one part and leave the other, unless there were something that would indicate in the one a desire to be saved, which did not exist in the case of the other. What would better show this than faith 1 What would be a better expression of a desire to be saved ? What act would be more appropriate in accepting salvation, in the intimating of a wish that the benefits of the death of Christ might be ours ? What would constitute | stronger bond between the soul and Him than this ? What would come nearer towards constituting that identity on which it is proper that those who are united should be treated alike? You are a■ father. You have two sons. They both become disobedient. They leave your house at their pleasure; go where they choose; are out at such hours as suit their convenience ; keep such company as they desire ; and are wholly regardless of your laws. They heed neither your promises nor your threats, and they have gone so far that they have now no confidence in you. You have favours which you are willing to bestow on them. You would be willing to receive them to your house, and to treat them as sons, alike in your lifetime and in your will. But would you think it unreasonable, that as a condition of their being received and treated as sons they should evince returning confidence in you ? And if one of them should return, and should ever onward manifest the confidence due from a son to a father, and the other should not, would you think it improper to make a distinction between them in your lifetime and at your death ? And would they and the world be at a loss for a reason why it was done ? The remark here is, that faith in Christ is the appropriate act by which wo accept of the benefits of hia work, and that this constitutes a difference between him who accepts of salvation and him who does not accept it; and that this is a reason why the one should be treated as if he were interested in those benefits and the other not—that is, a reason why the one is justified and the other not.

(5.) The fifth remark necessary to explain the subject, or to show why faith in Christ is made the turning-point of justification and salvation, is, that the act of believing on Christ is made in circumstances and in a manner indicating confidence of the highest kind that ever exists in the human bosom, constituting a union of the closest conceivable nature. It is an act so identifying the soul and the Saviour that it is proper that the same treatment which the Redeemer receives should in their measure bo received by his people, or that, in the Divine treatment, they should be practically regarded as one. The circumstances are these:—

(a) The sinner feels that he is lost and ruined. He is mado sensible that he is guilty before God, and that he has no claim to Divine mercy. His heart is evil; his life has been evil; his whole soul is evil. If justice were done him, he feels that he should be for ever banished from God and heaven. Yet he feels that he has a soul of infinite value. It is to endure for ever. It is capable, in the long eternity before it, of suffering more than the aggregate of all the sorrows that have yet been endured ou earth and in hell. It is capable, also, in that infinite duration, of enjoying more than the aggregate bliss of all that has been experienced on earth, united witli all that has been known in heaven. A boundless eternity is before the trembling sinner, and infinite interests are at stake.

(b) He despairs of salvation for himself. He feels now that ha lias no power to rescue his soul from death. He cannot confide in his own arm, or in the arm of any mortal. He has tried every method of salvation, every way of obtaining peace of conscience, every plan that proposed security to his soul,—but in vain. He stands now a lost and ruined being, trembling on the shores of eternity. The boundless ocean spreads out before him. Clouds and darkness rest upon it. He has deserved no mercy; he has no claim on God to be his guide and protector; he can urge noreason why he should be admitted to a world of peace.

(c) In these sad and perilous circumstances, he commits his soul, with all its infinite and eternal interests, into the hands of the Lord Jesus. By a simple act of faith he embraces Him as his Saviour, his Friend, his Sacrifice, his Advocate. Renouncing all confidence in his own merit, he resolves to rely on the merit of Christ; abandoning every plea on the ground of what he ha3 himself done, he resolves to urge the merits of the Saviour as his plea; and forsaking for ever all reliance for salvation on birth or blood, on moral virtues or intellectual attainments, on rank in life or the commendation of friends, on the goodness of his own heart or on forms in religion, he stakes his own everlasting interest, and the question of his final salvation, on the belief that there is a Saviour, and that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is able and willing to save him. He is willing to risk the issue on this belief; and he who was a moment before trembling on the verge of hell as if there were no hope, now calmly turns the eye to heaven, and smiles through his tears, and says, " I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which. I have committed unto him against that day."

(d) This is a wonderful act of confidence. That is great confidence which is evinced when a drowning man seizes a rope that is thrown to him, and suspends the question of his safety on the belief that you can draw him to the shore. That would be great confidence which the man who was shipwrecked, and who had clambered up a projecting rock above the reach of the waves, would evince, if he should fasten around his body a rope let down from above, and swing off over the raging billows, trusting to the rope and the strength of those above to draw him up. And that is great confidence, in a case already referred to, where a delicately-trained youthful female leaves her mother and father, and commits herself, for weal or woe, into the hands of a comparative stranger. But such acts are not equal to that by which the dying soul commits itself to the Saviour. They will hardly do for an illustration. For what are the raging waves of the ocean compared with the rolling fires of the world of despair! What is the perilled death of the body compared with the death of the soul 1 What are all the temporal interests which youth, or beauty, or virtue can commit to another here, compared with those eternal interests which are entrusted to the Son of God 1

(e) It remains, then, only to add, that in virtue of such a union there should be identity of treatment. So we saw in the illustration of the husband and wife, where the union between them led on to common sorrows and common joys ; common successes and common reverses; common sunshine and common shade. Much more should it be so in the more tender and close union of the soul to the Saviour by the act of faith. They become one. He is the " Vine," they are the " branches;" he the " Head," they the " members;" he lives in them, and dwells in them. He is " Christ in us, the hope of glory." " We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." " I live," says the apostle, " yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." " Because I live," said the Saviour, " ye shall live also." Through all life's future scenes his people will be treated as one with him; and the union is so close that it introduces them to common joys and triumphs with him for ever. They will be made happy, because the same blessings that descend on the " Head" will flow to all the " members."

In view of these remarks, the following thoughts may be suggested in conclusion:—

(1.) The simplicity and ease of the way of salvation in the gospel are remarkable. The leading thing required of him who would be saved, is faith, or confidence, in the Redeemer. Thus Paul said to the trembling jailer at Philippi, " Believe on the Lord Jesua Christ, and thou shalt be saved," Acts xvi. 31. So again in the Epistle to the Romans, " If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hnth raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation," Rom. x. 9, 10. Here, as everywhere in the New Testament, salvation is represented as easy. The terms are as simple as possible. There is no requisition of our attempting to obey the whole law of God as a condition of salvation; no demand on us to offer costly sacrifices, or to make pilgrimages to a distant shrine, or to practise penances and fastings, or to lacerate the body, or to attempt to work out a righteousness by conformity to external forms, or by union to a particular church. The simple, the single thing demanded is, faith on the Son of God. If man has this, he is safe. No matter what his past life has been; no matter what his complexion, rank, or apparel; no matter where he lives or dies; no matter whether he worships in a splendid temple or under the open vault of heaven; and no matter whether his body rests in consecrated ground or amid the corals of the ocean,—he is a child of God, and an heir of the kingdom. Whatever may be said of this plan of salvation, it cannot be said that it is not sufficiently simple, and that it does not breathe a spirit of benignity towards the lost and ruined children of men. The infidel cannot object that God has not adapted it to the condition of human nature as it is—made up, for the most part, of the ignorant, of the down-trodden, and of children; nor that it has required more of any man than the human powers can render. Yet,

(2.) While thus simple and easy, it is on the great principles which we see everywhere prevail. There is required in salvation that which keeps the social world together, and causes human things to move on in harmony—that without which all the interests of man would be a wreck. There is required that which would arrest all human ills, and make this still a happy world—confidence in our God. Man wants but this to make him a happy being here; he will want but this to make him happy for ever. As confidence is the great principle which cements society, so it was indispensable in religion that confidence in God should be restored. We cannot conceive that a human being could be saved without faith. Even if it had not been distinctly and formally required in the plan, it is impossible to conceive that there could have been salvation without it. The very process of returning to God from our wanderings implies returning confidence—for how or why should the sinners return to him if they have no confidence in him ? And how could they he happy in heaven if they had no confidence in God ? What would heaven be, if there were there the same distrust of the Deity, and the same rebellion against him, and the same alienation from him, and the same doubt of his being, his justice, and his goodness, which exist on earth ? The plan of salvation by faith is laid in the deepest philosophy, and is based on the irreversible nature of things.

(3.) The subject suggests a remark on the nature and aims of infidelity. Men often think that unbelief is a harmless thing. They sometimes regard it as a special proof of meritorious independence to be an infidel. They pride themselves on their philosophy and their freedom from vulgar prejudices and priestcraft— perhaps on their freedom from the prejudices instilled by a pious parent, a pastor, or a Sunday-school teacher. They consider the denunciation of unbelief in the gospel as singularly harsh, and use no measured terms in expressing their abhorrence of a system which denounces the eternal pains of hell on a man because he will not believe. The want of faith, say they, is a harmless or a meritorious thing. But are you connected with a bank ? Would you think that a harmless effort in a daily paper which should attempt to unsettle the confidence of the community in your institution?—Have you a character for virtue, which you have secured by years of toil and of upright deportment? Is that a harmless report in the community which tends to destroy all confidence in that character?—Are you a father? Is it a harmless effort of your neighbour when he attempts to unsettle the confidence of your own children in your virtue ?—Are you a husband? Is he a harmless man who shall aim to unsettle your faith in the wife of your bosom, and produce between you and her an utter want of confidence ?—And is there no evil in that state of mind where there is no confidence in God that rules on high; the God that made us, and that holds our destiny in his hands? Is it nothing to unsettle the faith of men in God, and to introduce universal distrust in his government? Is it nothing to inculcate or cherish the thought that the Governor of the world is a dark, malignant, harsh, and severe Being, and to alienate the affections of creation from its Maker ? Let the history of the earth answer. All our evils began in that unhappy moment when our first parents lost their confidence in their God. " Loss of Eden," toil, sweat, despair, perplexity, and death, tell what the evil was. Calamities have rolled along in black and angry surges, and the dark flood still swells aud heaves upon the earth. Peace will be restored, and Paradise regained, only when man is restored to confidence in his God; and this is the grand and glorious work of the gospel. This done in any heart, and its " peace becomes as a river, and its righteousness as the waves of the sea." This done all over the earth, and millennial joy will visit tho nations. This done, as successive individuals or generations leave tho world, and death is disarmed of his sting, for the departing soul leans with full assurance of faith on the Saviour.