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Christian privileges, for years together, while he is so far from trusting in Christ with the confidence of faith, that he shall not only confess himself destitute of trust, but often express a fear lest full trust and confidence were an unwarranted and dangerous presumption? How strange this would have sounded in the Apostle's time, when to trust in Christ, and to trust fully, and for all salvation, was the very first exercise to which they called those who were awakened to seek an earnest for eternal life, and received the record of God concerning the
The remarkable trust of the first Christians gave a perfection to their character we now seldom perceive. To think of the losses they incurred—the difficulties they surmounted—the reproach and the persecution they underwent--and the sacrifice of worldly comfort, and of life itself, which they, without reluctance, and even joyfully made for the sake of Christ ;- seeming to be most happy when they suffered most : this fills us with astonishment and admiration. We stand and contemplate with wonder, men rising superior to the ordinary feelings of flesh and blood, and subduing all that the world loves or fears, with perpetual victory;
while such was the high tone of their heavenly mindedness, and devotion to God, and benevolence to man, that while we compare their general excellence with what is deemed generally excellent in after periods of the church, and especially in the present age--we must be convinced how much these first luminaries excelled in glory.
But if this be admitted, how shall we account for the fact? Is human nature worse now than it was in former ages, and less susceptible of high and holy cultivation ? No. Or, is the Gospel a less powerful instrument now for forming the character and regulating the affections, than it was in time past? No: neither of these can be supposed. And if our character be inferior to that of others, it is not owing to greater corruption in us by nature, nor to the diminishment of renovating power in the Gospel of Christ : But it is owing to this their faith was strong, and ours is weak; they trusted much in Christ; and, excelling us in trust, they rose super-eminently high in the scale of moral and religious attainments. They knew in whom they had believed ; and, through Christ strengthening them, what did they not achieve ?
How often do we see persons that deny
no revealed truth, and yet do not trust? Talk to them of the gospel, they understand its principles—can speak of them most intelligently and reason about them with apparent wisdom and precision. They approve likewise the whole Gospel scheme; and when they go a visiting the sick and the poor, their lips are richly stored with promises; and while we hear them descanting on the gospel of grace, and recommending Christ as most precious and wors thy of all confidence and trust, we are secretly pleased and comforted in the persuam sion that here at least we have found faith: We follow these kind, benevolent persons from one scene of beneficence to another; and having fed, and instructed, and consoled not a few-if we are admitted to their fel. lowship, we expect to find peace and joy in believing, or at least the calm leaning of a soul reposing on Christ with meek and unsuspecting love: But, alas ! how much shall we be disappointed when, instead of a settled, heart-felt trust in the Saviour, we find them with little adherence, and often in doubt, as to the nature, or the compatibility with other graces, of an assured trust. Alas! how these persons invert Christian experience, and make that last which should, after
believing the Gospel, be first and chief! The charity—the amiable deportment—the well regulated zeal of such characters, we highly approve, recommend, and admire; what lack they yet? Oh, for their own sake, and for the sake of Christ, we bid them trust in the Lord !
We know that exhortations to trust are familiar to you; and we are aware, that when the word of truth has been often heard without impression, at every new repetition, it seems to lose somewhat of its power to affect, or to impress. Yet we must add one exhortation more to the many you have all doubtless heard.
I am afraid all to whom this address is spoken do not trust in Christ. Nay, were I to take it for granted that the language of the text is descriptive of all, and were I in consequence to address them all as trusting and rejoicing in Christ, I should not only presume, I fear, against the truth, but might really disappoint and injure the peace of some who, not yet trusting in Jesus, like those Ephesians, may be listening to us, perhaps, in the expectation of hearing some word of direction to remove their doubts, and encourage them to hope.
Now, my friends, trust must have a be
ginning, and a first act; and to that act we would now engage you, if any are yet unconfiding. We might well expostulate with you for distrust so long entertained. It is not honourable to Christ, let me tell you, when his love to sinners is so great, and cost him so much ; nor does it glorify the truth of God; but we forbear-Christ will not upbraid you,
if ye now believe; and let us not speak hardly to those whom he waits to receive with all the welcome of grace. In his love and grace to sinners, in the sufficiency of his work, and in the glory of his power, we behold laid in Zion a sure ground of trust-only try.
We have exhibited Christ, as granted by the Father, to be the common Saviour, furnished with a common salvation, wrought out and obtained for sinners with infinite pains. Look unto him listen to his voice-lo! he invites : “ Look unto me, and be ye saved !” It is the Saviour who calls, with grace in his aspect, and holding forth salvation in his once wounded handshands once wounded for your transgressions, and especially for that sin of unbelief. He shows that salvation in its blood-bought value and completeness, and
says, “ It is yours, if ye trust in me!" Oh, then, sinners, will ye not trust? What