« הקודםהמשך »
selves; but we are convinced of it, from assurances that cannot deceive us—such as the manifold works of his creative power--the order and beauty of the universe—the testimony of divine revelation-or an inward persuasion from the light God has vouchsafed us in the appointment of various circumstances that may be accessory to establish it, and which unite to stamp conviction on the mind. But the word in common discourse sometimes implies no more, than that we can give no further degree of credit to any thing, than so far as we have an opinion of the person who relates it, or who supplies us with reasons or proofs to believe it. This, however, is not a just way of applying the word : it is a corruption of its literal meaning; for, I BELIEVE, in most languages, has a positive sense affixed to it, and denotes an inward and substantial evidence of the fact that is the object of our belief or faith. It is very clear it must be used in this sense, as declaratory of the credit we give to the articles of our Christian faith, or we cannot be esteemed Christians at all.
The next portion of the sentence is, that we u must believe all the articles of our faith.” It is proper, therefore, in this place, to inquire what they are, and where they are to be found ? so as to add to our faith knowledge, in the first instance; and to confirm our reasons for receiving them as such. In reply to the foriner
inquiry, we may shortly and safely define them to be, in general, all that God has revealed or made known in his holy word to be believed by us, and especially the way of salvation by Jesus Christ. And as to what particularly concerns the latter, we may securely answer, that they are collected and to be found in that short summary called the Apostles' Creed, which is itself drawn from God's word, and to be believed by us, on its authority. We must believe or give credit to all the articles of our faith, because they are all necessary to be believed in order to fit us for eternal salvation. They are, in fact, so nearly related to, and depending upon each other, to forward the work of our calling, that none can be lightly regarded; and, being all drawn from the same pure fountain, and proposed by the same blessed Author, as the badges of our fidelity to him, they are indispensably required to qualify the sincere Christian with principles of a devout and holy life and conversation.
I shall not proceed, at this time, to a minute explanation of the separate articles of our belief; because this inquiry will present itself with more propriety when we come to examine them in the regular order in which they form a part of the Catechism. At present, I shall confine myself in discoursing to you in general terms upon the third and last portions of the sentence I have chosen for my subject to-day, viz. the Christian faith, or, our faith in Christ. Now, it is of the greatest importance to our best interests, even our eternal happiness, that we should clearly comprehend what is meant by faith in Christ. And, that I may not mislead you, or leave any room to suppose I am preaching to you the words of man's wisdom, and not Christ Jesus the Lord, I shall support my exposition of this most important expression by the authority of God's own word, the written Gospel of his Son, and servants, who wrote by the Spirit of the Father and the Son, procured for them by his merits and death.—The chief article, then, of the Christian faith or religion is this, that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Most High God—the true Messiah, or the anointed and divine Person who was to come into the world to be the Saviour of mankind; to declare to men God's will, and the express terms on which only they must expect salvation. This is most justly called the first or chief truth of the Christian religion, because thereon depends the whole truth of it; and he that doth not believe this can in no wise be a Christian, The assertion is proved by the words of St. John, iii. 18: He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth nor is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only Son of God. The Apostle, Acts, xvi. 31, establishes the value of this faith in Christ by this re
markable expression: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. And St. John saith, 1 Epist. ii. 22, He that denieth that Jesus is the Christ is a liar, and antichrist : that is, an unbeliever, or the enemy of Christ. And, further, 1 John, iv. 2,3: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (that is, that God was in man reconciling the world unto himself), HE IS of God; and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (that is, that the Saviour, which the word Jesus signifies, or the Christ, which means the anointed one), was not made man, was not Emmanuel, or God with us; he is not of God, and this is the spirit of antichrist. And in the 14th and 15th verses of the same chapter he says, We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And, to produce but one more scriptural proof of the necessity, and effect too, of this first article of the Christian faith, the same Apostle, in 1 Ep. v. 5, puts this important question, and gives this explicit answer to it: Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ? So that you see how very much depends on our believing this article of the Christian faith, even our overcoming the world, that victory we were sent into it to accomplish,
and thereby to glorify the power of Christ; for what is to overcome the world but to be a good Christian, since the world, we are told, is at enmity with God: therefore, to overcome it is to prove ourselves faithful soldiers of our divine General, and friends of God. Now, the Apostle tells us, that no one can overcome the world but he that believeth; that is, he who gladly fights under the banner, and obeys the commands of his Lord and Saviour. And this is an eternal truth; because, as all the power we have to think, will, or act any good, comes from God, and because God hath given all things into the hands of his Son Jesus Christ; therefore it is to HIM we must look for help in time of need; it is upon him we must call every moment of our lives, if we will escape the pollution that is in the world through sin ; it being for his sake only that God can look upon us, and will enable us to work out our salvation; and therefore our blessed Lord most truly saith, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. He is the resurrection, or cause of the renewal of our minds to holiness in this life; he is the cause of the remission of our sins, and our reconciliation to the Father : in like manner, by his almighty power, and on account of his precious blood shed, and the atonement made for us, he will bring again our bodies from the dust, and cause them to be made like his glorious body. These,