Sermon 12. Faith the Title for Justification Seasons - Easter

"Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. viii. 11.

[Note] {153} OUR Lord here says, what He frequently says elsewhere, that the Gentiles, who were heretofore thought reprobate, should inherit the favour of God with Abraham and the other patriarchs. Moreover, He says, that they would gain that great privilege through faith; for the words immediately preceding the text are, "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith," that is, as that of the Centurion, "no, not in Israel;" then He adds, "and I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." St. Paul, it is scarcely necessary to observe, declares the same thing most emphatically; so that he may be called the Apostle, as of the Gentiles, so of faith:—as for instance, "the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, {154} preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." [Gal. iii. 8, 9.] In the history of Cornelius's baptism, the same great truth is declared by St. Peter, with some accidental variety of expression. "In every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him." [Acts x. 35.]

Now here the question may be asked, and has been asked,—If all that is necessary for acceptance with God be faith in Christ, how is Church Communion, how are Sacraments, necessary? It is taught in Church, that the grace of Christ is not a mere favourable regard with which He views us, a mere state of acceptance and external imputation of His merits given to faith, but that it is a real and spiritual principle residing in the Church, and communicated from the Church into the heart of individuals, and extended far and wide, according as they come for it to the Church, and diffused all over the earth by their joining the Church. This is what is taught by the Church itself of its own gift; and the question is, How is this consistent with the impression legitimately produced on the mind by such passages of Scripture as the text and others such as I have cited? They seem to speak as if the great gift of Christ were His favourable account of us, and the means of it were faith; whereas we seem to speak of it as being an inward renewal in us, and of the means of it being an union with the Church. They seem to speak of it as what any one may gain for himself; and have by himself; we speak of it as a certain benefit, one and the {155} same for all, gained by coming to it and for it. They seem to speak of the way of life as being something individual and solitary; we speak of it as a social and united enterprise, and a journey in company.

To this it may be replied, that it is unfair and dangerous to insist on certain texts to the exclusion of others; that true though it be, that some texts speak of faith and nothing else, still others speak of Church communion and nothing else, as being the way of salvation; and if so, both, both faith and Church communion, are necessary, and that one will not save without the other; that our duty is to come to Christ in faith, through the Church,—and if we do this, we shall observe the rule given us both in the one set of texts, and in the other,—and that they deal with Scripture as violently, who think to be saved by faith without Church fellowship, as those who think to be saved by Church fellowship without faith. For instance, if our Lord says, "All things are possible to him that believeth," yet He elsewhere says, "If he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." If He says, "Believe, and ye shall have," yet elsewhere, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." If St. Paul says, that we are justified by faith without the works of the Law, still he expressly assures us, that Christ saves us "by the laver of regeneration," "that as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ," and there is "one baptism, one body, one spirit," as well as "one faith," and that the Church is "the pillar and ground of the truth." Further, if St. Peter says, that {156} every one is accepted with God who fears Him and works righteousness, yet he elsewhere says that "baptism saves us," and exhorts his hearers to be baptized, in order to the remission of their sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

And further, it may be shown, that nothing can be more natural than this union of various distinct means, in order to gain some particular benefit, and that there is nothing forced in thus interpreting the one set of expressions in harmony with the other; and nothing in the impression conveyed by the one inconsistent with the impression conveyed by the other. We have cases of this kind every day, and we use similar forms of speech every day. For instance, were a person to say that he would give some benefit, food or clothing, to any poor person who wanted it, would any one say that he broke his promise, if he appointed some particular place where the food or the clothing was to be got, and where those who desired it must go for it? And would it be thought reasonable, if a poor person accosted him abruptly in the public way, and insisted on his giving it directly from himself, without his having to go to the place appointed? and why, forsooth?—on the ground that the other had said that he would give to any one who asked of him. As then a charitable person might say, "Ask, and ye shall have," and yet might not mean to excuse those who asked from the necessity of going to some place, and at some hour, when and where he dispensed his charity; so in like manner Christ may say by Himself or His Apostles, "Ask, and ye shall receive." "Believe, and ye shall be saved," and {157} yet may mean to enjoin upon us certain rules, and to appoint a certain treasure-house, for our gaining that gift to which our asking and our faith are sufficient to entitle us.

This is so plain, that it is hardly necessary to say so much about it; but it may be objected, that it is more true in itself, than to the present purpose: for there are passages of Scripture, it may be said, which speak so largely and absolutely, that to suppose any conditions implied in them which are not specified, any other means of gaining God's favour besides simple faith, is doing violence to their language. For instance, suppose a rich man promised an alms to his poor neighbour, and then, when the latter came for it, said, "I promised you indeed an alms, and as a free gift—and I mean to give it you—nevertheless, I shall exact one condition, which I did not then mention, but which I meant nevertheless, and which is not inconsistent in set terms with what I said, and this one condition is, that you should walk some five hundred miles for my bounty, to some place where I have stored it, or that you should first learn a foreign language, and petition me in it;"—every one would feel that such conduct was a mockery in the rich man, and a cruelty to the poor one. Now, it is contended by the persons I speak of, that faith is so prominently spoken of in certain passages of Scripture, as the means of gaining the benefits of Christ's death, that it must be meant to be the only means; the silence observed in such passages concerning other means being equivalent to a denial of any other; and therefore, that in very truth we must be justified by faith only in a full and {158} absolute and real sense (if the word of Scripture be sure), not in a certain sense merely, or in a certain point of view, but in a sense peculiar and proper, by a prerogative which no other means possesses, whether rite, or work, or temper of mind.

For example, it is said by St. Paul without restriction, "There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" And then the Apostle concludes; "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Surely, it may be said, these words plainly do imply that the knowledge of the truth is all that is necessary for any person's application of it to himself. Give him a book, the Bible; give him the revealed doctrine, or what St. Paul calls the word of God; give him a preacher;—he requires nothing more. He may at will seize, claim, appropriate, use the promise. He has but to call, and he will be answered; he has but to believe, and he is justified. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." [Rom. x. 10-17.]

Again; how wide, it may be said, how comprehensive, how simple are the words, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for every one that asketh receiveth, {159} and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." [Matt. vii. 7, 8.] Is Scripture, it may be said, for plain men or not?—does it speak to the artless, guileless, and simple-minded, or does it require a refined and cultivated intellect to understand it? If to the poor the Gospel is preached, can we doubt that it is meant to convey that meaning which at first sight it has?—that all to whom the sound of the Gospel comes have but to call on God, to ask, to pray, to believe, and according to their faith so shall it be done unto them?

And such, too, it may be added, was St. Paul's language to the jailor at Philippi; he said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." [Acts xvi. 31.]

There is certainly much in such considerations, and they are by no means lightly to be put aside. They do seem, with some explanation, to be true. I mean, it does seem as if every one to whom the message of life came, had an offer of it; had, if he chose to avail himself of it, an interest in it, a right to take it to himself; that his hearing is his warrant, his knowledge is his evidence, that his believing is his power. This would seem to be a broad truth, whatever else is true; and in the present most miserable state of Christendom there is comfort in believing it. I proceed, then, to explain in what sense it is true, what it implies, and what it does not involve, and what follows from it.

I say, then, that hearing and believing,—that is, knowing, confessing, and asking,—give us under the {160} covenant of grace a title, nay, are the sole necessary right and title to receive the gifts purchased for us by our Lord Jesus on the Cross. And now observe, first, what this does not imply.

1. It does not imply any thing about the time or mode of our justification. Faith is our right and title to be justified, the sole right and title necessary; but has a person forthwith that, to which he has a right? is nothing more necessary for the possession and enjoyment of things than a just title to them? Is it so in human matters? is not a right the first thing indeed, but is it all that is necessary for having, holding, and using? Are there no forms to be gone through, no necessary instruments of possession? Or, take again the case of the children of Christian parents. The infant children of Christians have a right to be made Christians; but are they made Christians merely by the right to be so made? if so, why do we baptize them? Faith, then, in the general scheme of the Gospel, is what their very birth and origin is in the particular case of the children of Christians. It constitutes a claim in our case that we should be made Christians; it is an evidence, an inward spiritual token from God that He means us to be made Christians; it is a promise from Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith, that He means us, that He wills us, to be Christians. To him that hath, more shall be given. Him whom God gifts with faith, will He also in due time gift with evangelical, justifying grace: but the first gift does not give the second gift, it does not involve it; it does but prepare for it, it does but constitute a title to it. {161} Again: good works form our title for heaven; but does a person who is fruitful in good works and prepared for the next world at once die? or rather, I should ask, is he without death translated at once both soul and body into heaven? is there nothing to wait for? nothing to go through, even in the case of those who are ready for death? are there no persons detained in the flesh, who, if they died yesterday or a year since, would go to heaven? are there no saints upon earth? Surely, then, to have a title is not the same thing as to be in possession; and all the texts which can be brought to prove that faith is our title to be justified, fail to prove of themselves that it involves in it our justification, unless indeed children are Christians without baptism because their parents were Christians, and Saints are in heaven before death because they are fit for heaven. If, I say, the texts in question do but show that faith is our sole title to be justified, they prove nothing about any thing else. A title to a certain benefit is still a title, whether the benefit has been conferred or not. It does not cease to be the title because we have the benefit, nor is it less of a title because we have not yet received it. It is not at all bound to past, present, or future. It is that on which we once received, or by which we now hold, or for which we are still claiming the benefit, as the case may be. If, then, the texts in question merely say that he who has faith has a right to the benefit of redemption, they merely say (which is indeed much, but is all they do say) that he who believes shall to a certainty at some time and by some means be justified. And that they say this, and no more, is plain from those texts to which {162} reference has already been made. For instance, "Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved;" a promise is given, but the how, the when, the where, the by what, these particulars are by the very form of the proposition left uncertain. Time is not mentioned, nor mode;—but a promise given, that it shall be.

But, on the other hand, if we say that faith is the mode or the time as well as the title, we may as well say, too, that it is the Author of our justification. We may as well say it supersedes Christ's Atonement as a meritorious cause, as Baptism as an instrument. And so again of the text; it says, that many shall come from the East and West, and sit down in the kingdom of heaven. Is coming the same as sitting down? coming stands for faith, sitting down for baptism; coming is our title, sitting down is possession. Coming goes before, leads to, sitting down; but it is not sitting down. A title is one thing, and possession is another. And the same might be shown of the other texts which are commonly cited in the question.

2. This becomes still more clear, on considering that whereas faith is in some passages made the means of gaining acceptance, prayer is, in other places, spoken of as the means; and, moreover, prayer is evidently the expression of faith, so that whatever is true of prayer is true of faith also. Now it is too plain to insist upon, that, though success is certainly promised to prayer in the event, yet the time of succeeding is not promised, and so far from it being immediate, we are expressly told to pray again and again, to continue instant in {163} prayer, in order to succeed. For instance, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Here salvation is, as it were, put in our own power; to hear the invitation is our sufficient title for coming; to pray for the gift is the sure and certain means of receiving it. Most true; but does the word seek imply one act, and one only? does it imply that we gain at once what we ask for? The contrary: we are elsewhere told to "strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many will seek to enter in," that is, seek without striving, "and shall not be able." [Luke xiii. 24.] Again; "He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." [Luke xviii. 1.] It is not one act of prayer, then, or two, but a course and continuance of prayer, which entitle us to God's mercy; and therefore, in like manner, it is not one act of faith which justifies us, or two acts, but to live in faith and to walk in faith is our title; and to begin to have faith is to enter the road leading, infallibly leading, to justification, by a series of events or conditions, of which faith is the first and sole on our part. I say that the message "Believe, and thou shalt have," "Call, and thou shalt be saved," as little imply that one act of faith, one call, is all that is requisite, as "Ask, and it shall be given you," implies that we can gain answers to prayer at the mere willing. Sometimes, doubtless, God mercifully answers upon one prayer, and sometimes He justifies on one act of faith; but I am speaking of what we have a right to gather from such passages; and I say, that all {164} they can prove is this, that he who has faith has a promise from God that he shall, shall in God's own way, in God's own time, shall certainly and surely in the event, be justified; that, as he who begins to pray will sooner or later obtain, so he who believes shall, unless he "draw back," be justified.

3. But this is made a matter of certainty by the instances which we find given us in the New Testament of justification by faith. We find that faith was not thought enough, but was made to lead on to other conditions. A man was not thought to have all, to have obtained, on believing, but to have a title whereby to find and obtain. For instance, even in a case which admits of being otherwise interpreted in some respects, so much as this is certain. Cornelius was a special instance of faith; but did this faith suffice to make him a justified Christian? No; it did but give him a title to it. It moved the God of mercy to work miracles for him. There was this circumstance, special and remarkable in his case, that the first spiritual gift was not given through baptism, but still it was not given at once upon his faith. So far from it, he had to send to an Apostle before it was given.

Take again the instance of St. Paul himself. By faith he obeyed the heavenly vision, and went into Damascus, and waited. But he had to wait, he was not justified. He waited three days—he prayed; then Ananias was sent; and he said, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the Name of the Lord." [Acts xxii. 16.] To believe, to confess, to pray, to call, {165} were the sufficient title for the gift; but baptism was the instrument of receiving it. St. Paul having faith, was sure, in God's great mercy, eventually of receiving baptism, but not at once.

Again, consider the case of the Ethiopian Eunuch. "Faith cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of God." This was fulfilled in his case. He read the Prophet Isaiah concerning Christ's atoning sufferings. He heard Philip preaching on the sacred text. He had faith in Christ. He had a title to justification; but he was baptized in order to receive it. Hear his own words declaring it. "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" [Acts viii. 36.] You see, baptism was the great end which he was seeking; why, except that it conveyed the gift of life? Would it have been rational to have been so earnest for a dead ordinance, for a mere outward rite? especially since now he had heard, and had believed. Would he have asked about "hindrances" to a mere outward rite, when he had already obtained the inward gift? No, he sought baptism because it was worth seeking. And Philip treats it as such: he says, "Thou mayest, if." He puts a condition. Men do not put conditions before worthless things. A condition is a price;—men do not buy nothing with something. The Eunuch was going to receive a gift, else there had been no delay, no scrutiny, no engagement. Now what was the condition? "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." If thou believest. "And he answered and said, I believe that {166} Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Faith, then, was the title, the sole title. "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch; and he baptized him." At length it was finished. The deed was done—the gift was given—justification was accomplished—and therefore, "when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip." He did not take him away before; He did not think it enough for Philip to preach. Philip preached and baptized; and then he was caught away. Had he but preached, and not baptized, and the Eunuch still had had faith, then doubtless, in God's great mercy and good providence, another messenger from Him would have baptized him; the Eunuch would not have gone without baptism; he would not have been frustrated of the fruit of his faith; only he would not have had it so soon. He would still have had the title, the claim to baptism. But God "finished the work, and cut it short in righteousness." [Rom. ix. 28.] He justified the believing soul through water; and then Philip, his instrument, was caught away, and the Christian "went on his way rejoicing."

One more instance: St. Paul said to the jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,"—and then he and Silas "spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house." [Acts xvi. 30-34.] Here, then, "faith came by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Accordingly, the promise was unto him and his; and what next? Let St. Peter tell us what, {167} on the day of Pentecost. "The promise," he says, "is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call;" and therefore, "be baptized." This was the issue—be baptized—why? "for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." What St. Peter said to the Jews, that St. Paul did to the jailor, or rather St. Silas did it; for St. Paul says of himself, that he was not sent to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. He did not baptize, because so great a gift was baptism, that the Apostles wished to avoid the chance of seeming to baptize in their own name, and of seeming to be setting up themselves for the meritorious means through which men are saved. St. Paul says, then, "I thank my God that I baptized none of you," except one or two whom he mentions, "lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name." [1 Cor. i. 14, 15.] As water is a feeble element, so the minister chosen was the feeblest vessel in the Church, to show that all was of God. Accordingly, the Apostle generally had with him some friend, who, while a companion and comfort to him, administered those offices which he did not take upon himself. Philip was a deacon, and baptized; St. Paul was an Apostle, and did not baptize; and, therefore, I say, it is more likely, in the case before us, that Silas baptized the jailor, and not St. Paul. However, baptized he was and all his; and then, and not before, took place in him the same inward change which happened to the Eunuch, "he rejoiced, believing in God with all his {168} house." He had believed before baptism, but he did not rejoice before baptism—he rejoiced after baptism. Men rejoice when they have found what they seek. Both the noble Ethiopian and the humble jailor rejoiced on their being baptized. Faith gave a title: baptism gave possession. Faith procured them what nothing else would procure, and baptism conveyed it.

Enough has been said to explain in what sense faith is what nothing else is, and does what nothing else can do. He who has the means of hearing the Gospel, and believes in it heartily, has not a means of gaining, but a title to receive justification; he has within him a warrant, not that God has justified him, but that He will justify him. And this was so fully understood and received by the early Church of Christ, that, supposing a person, who was candidate and under preparation for baptism, happened to die before its administration, it was believed that that person on his death was put by God's mercy into that state of salvation, into which he would have entered by baptism. Or, again, suppose a person was martyred for his faith and not baptized, then, too, his salvation was considered to be secured in like manner without baptism. For where a man has true faith, Christ, we humbly trust, would rather work a miracle for his justification, than deprive him of that which He graciously considers as his right. He that hath begun a good work in us, will perform it in some way or other and bring it to perfection. He will, by His providence, create Churches and Ministers of Baptism round about the souls whom He visits; or He will lead them from Ethiopia to Jerusalem, and send Philip to meet them; {169} or He will speak in dreams by His Angel, and send unto Joppa for Peter; or in a prison He will even make a spring of water gush forth miraculously from the rock at an Apostle's voice; or He will, if all other means are suspended, reconcile the soul to Him without the appointed ordinance at the moment of dissolution. In some way or other, where He gives faith, He will open a way for saving grace. For whom He foreknows, them He predestinates; and whom He predestinates, them He calls; and whom He calls, them He justifies; and whom He justifies, them He glorifies.

And now it is plain what a consolatory light these considerations throw upon the present disordered state of Christendom. I trust there is no presumption in thus interpreting Scripture, and in thus judging of the state of things which we see; and if not, we may be thankful in being able to do so. It is most true, then, and never to be explained away, that the grace of the Gospel is lodged in a divinely appointed body, and spreads from it. It diffuses itself like leaven over the world, according to the parable, by a continuity and progression; not found here, and found there, in a detached isolated way, but here, and there, and wherever it is, as portions of one whole. As well may the branches of a tree be strewed on the earth, and the trunk be in the ground, and the leaves be whirled in the air, and the fruit be at the bottom of the stream, and yet all be one whole living tree, as the Church be divided. It is impossible. None who are external to it are included in it; it is quite a truism to say this. Neither faith nor any thing else can make that to be, {170} which is not. Wishing will not serve instead of coming, and faith cannot serve in the place of baptism. None are justified but those who are grafted into the justified body; and faith is not an instrument of grafting, but a title to be grafted. It is baptism, "whereby, as an instrument, they that receive it rightly," that is, by faith, "are grafted into the Church." And with the Church go all its privileges; and on communion with it depends the inflowing into the soul of its privileges. He who never has entered into the Church has not the privileges; he who has seceded from it, or sinned grievously in it, or is born in a schismatical branch or heretical sect, to him the privileges are suspended. There are great numbers, then, all about us, vast multitudes, who, for one reason or other, through their own fault or the fault of their fathers, are in a position which fails of the enjoyment of the privileges of regeneration. The power of the Spirit, the cleanness and lustre of the new creature, the intercourse with heaven, the light of God's countenance, the fulness of justification, are not participated by these masses of men, at least according to the provisions of the Gospel covenant. But in spite of this, we may humbly, yet confidently say, that where there is true faith, there justification shall be; there it is promised, it is due, it is coming, somehow, somewhile. Whether, as the Saints of the Old Testament waited, and were not gifted with Gospel justification till Christ's first coming, these faithful souls will be received into the glory and grace of the Church at His second coming; or whether they enter into the kingdom upon death; or whether, by an extraordinary {171} dispensation unknown to us and to themselves, they receive the gift here; or whether in this world their eyes shall at length be opened, and the Church revealed to them, as the true treasure-house of grace and home of refuge to all believers, and they be led to seek it, and renounce the sect of their birth or of their choice,—any how, they have a title; if they call, they shall be answered,—if they knock, it shall be opened to them. Who have this true faith we cannot tell, any more than when God rewards it; no, nor what measure of assistance, what power of spiritual influence He gives to those who nevertheless, like the Jews, have not the peculiar gifts and endowments of the Covenant of the Gospel. Yet it is a great comfort to believe that God's favour is not limited to the bounds of His heritage, but that, in the Church or out of the Church, every one that calleth on the Name of the Lord with a pure and perfect heart shall be saved.

And thus the possession of the Holy Scriptures is an inestimable gift in a country, to those who use it rightly, whether they belong to the Church or not, and so far we may well rejoice in their circulation; not that possession justifies, or reading, or knowing; not that the Bible is our religion, according to the strange phrase, which however has, alas, too true a meaning in fact; but the Bible is the means, through God's secret help, towards faith, and faith is the means towards justification. And as reading does not involve faith, yet is the way to it, so faith, though it does not involve justification, yet is a sure title to it. And thus by reading Scripture, thousands, we may trust, who are {172} not baptized, yet are virtually catechumens, and in heart and spirit candidates for the cleansing Sacrament. Thousands who are in unconscious heresy or unwilling schism, still are, through faith, in the state of Cornelius, when his prayers and alms went up before God. Thousands who are obliged to partake of the elements of Holy Communion unconsecrated, or administered with doubtful rites, yet have that within them which the fault or ignorance of the minister cannot take away,—a preparation of heart. Thousands who are in branches of the Church which profane men have stripped of holy ordinances, though the two Sacraments themselves remain to it, may through their faith receive in the Sacraments those graces besides, which were wont to be given through those lost ordinances. And thousands, who have been born and trained in separation, become, through their faith, divinely enlightened to seek and to join that One Holy and Catholic Body, in which God's presence abides. Such is the power of faith, not to disparage ordinances, but to secure graces.

Lastly, at the same time it is plain, and the face of Christendom shows it, how mournful is that spiritual state, even though happy in the end, in which, contrary to Christ's will, faith is disjoined from justification. Christ willed that justification should come at once upon faith through the Sacrament of Baptism. Satan has so disordered Christendom, that numbers perhaps have faith without as yet having justification; an interval, not of days, as in Cornelius's case, but of years, nay, perhaps of a life, lying between the two. We see the consequence of such an anomalous state all around us. {173} How miserable is the inconsistency of even our good men! how excellent in some points, how very faulty in others! How clear and edifying seems the faith of many who yet are very poorly advanced in sanctification! how is faith (strange to say) combined with profaneness, or with pride, or with despondency, or with headstrong blindness to the truth! What does all this show but that God's Spirit indeed is striving among us, but that the Church of the living God is hardly here; that beams of His favour are shed on us, but that the Sun of Righteousness is hid; that He has hid His face; that we have aids, but not Gospel graces; signs and evidences of mercy, but not justification; faith producing such fruits as it best may in the wide world, in a wild uncertain way, just as sweet plants might flower, and rich trees bear, on the outside of Eden.

But let us bless and praise God, my brethren, if He has placed us, as we trust, within the bounds of His kingdom; let us pray Him that we may avail ourselves of this inestimable privilege; let us pray Him to bring all others into it, to give light where He gives faith, and to join to the city of the Living God all those whose faces are turned thitherward.

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