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ance, faith, watchfulness, and fervent prayer, will be come more and more habitual, and as it were natural to him. His heart will grow more humble, and his conscience more tender, his dependence on Christ more simple, and his gratitude for redeeming love more abundant, in proportion to the degree of his sanctification. These things will render him likewise more compassionate, tender, forbearing, and forgiving; more patient and self-denying; and more ready to encounter dangers and difficulties, in promoting the cause of Christ among his fellow-sinners. And as no absolute perfection can be attained on earth; and as he deems all faulty and deformed, which does not come up to the requirement of the holy law, and the spotless example of the Saviour; so no limits can be assigned to his discoveries and progress, during his continuance in this world.
This is the character described by the apostle, “he " is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word; and “ he shall be blessed in his doing.” He is made wise unto salvation, and shall “abound in hope by the
power of the Holy Ghost:" he shall find liberty and pleasure in the ways of God; be made useful to society, and a blessing to his connexions; and he shall
have an entrance administered unto him abundantly “ into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Sa. "viour Jesus Christ."
No man who duly considers these things can doubt the practical nature and tendency of the gospel. Christ is our sole Foundation: but no one builds on that Foundation, except he hears his sayings, and does them. The practical hearer's faith is living; he is a
wise man: and this will appear to all the world; when the folly of those who build upon the sand by a dead faith, by hearing and not doing, will be exposed to universal contempt. Alas, my brethren, how numerous are such nominal Christians; " who call “ Christ, Lord, yet do not the things that he says!" But unless the design of the gospel be answered in our hearts and lives, the gospel itself will increase our condemnation.
Are any of you then sensible, that your hearing has hitherto failed to influence your practice? Let me conjure you, by the love you bear to your own happi. ness, not to put off the alarming conviction, by say. ing, “Go thy way, at this time, when I have a con“ venient opportunity I will call for thee.” It is not yet too late: “ Now is the accepted time, now is the
day of salvation:” But you know not how soon the Master of the house may shut to the door; and then it will be too late to begin to say, “Lord, Lord, open “ to us;" for he will silence every plea, and bid you “ depart as workers of iniquity.”
But have you, my brethren, begun seriously to practise what you know, and to enquire the will of God that you may do it? Blessed be the Lord, for his grace bestowed on you! Go on in this way, my beloved brethren; and even the most bumiliating discoveries you make of yourselves, will serve to endear the gospel of salvation to you.
" Then shall you know, if
follow on to know the Lord:” « For “ the path of the just shineth more and more to the " perfect day.” The practice of duty will prepare your hearts for the reception of truth; by removing those prejudices, with which the prevalence of carnal affections closes the understandings of the disobedient; and every accession of spiritual knowledge will have a sanctifying and comforting effect upon your hearts.
Finally, were we as desirous of having our souls adorned with holiness, as most persons are of decorating the poor dying body; we should certainly make continual discoveries of our remaining uncomeliness, and be thankful for assistance in such researches: and we should make daily progress in sanctification; by
putting off the old man, which is corrupt according
to the deceitful lusts, and putting on the new man, “ which after God is created in righteousness and true s holiness,"
1 CORINTHIANS xiii. 13.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but
the greatest of these is charity.
The apostle, in this remarkable chapter, shews the Corinthians, that the most splendid and useful of those miraculous powers, which they emulously coveted and ostentatiously displayed, were far inferior in value to sanctifying grace; yea, that when united with the deepest knowledge of divine mysteries, the most selfdenying liberality, and the most vehement zeal, they were nothing without charity; and did not so much as prove the possessor to be a real Christian of the lowest order. He then describes charity, as a man would define gold, by its distinguishing properties, which are the same in a grain as in a ton; but the more a man possesses, and the less alloy is found in the mass, the richer he is.-And having shewn, that charity would never fail; whereas miraculous powers would cease, and knowledge itself would be swallow
up and lost in the perfect light of heaven, be adds,
“ And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity.”—It is evident, that he meant to sum up, in these three radical graces, the grand essentials of vital Christianity, to which all other holy affections may be referred. But as the word charity is now used for one peculiar expression of love, which is equivocal, and may be counterfeit: it will render our discussion more perspicuous to sub. stitute love in the place of it; it being well known that the original word is generally thus translated. I shall endeavour, therefore,
I. To consider separately, the peculiar nature, exercise, and use of faith, hope, and love.
II. To shew in what respects love is the greatest of the three; and how this agrees with the doctrines of salvation by grace, and justifica
cation by faith alone. The subject before us, my brethren, is of the greatest importance, and often fatally misunderstood. Let me then beg a peculiar measure of your attention; and let us lift up our hearts to God, beseeching him to
open our understandings, that we may understand the scriptures,” and be guided into the knowledge of his holy truth.
I. Let us consider separately the peculiar nature, exercise, and use of faith, hope, and love.
We begin with faith. That peculiar act of the un. derstanding, by which we avail ourselves of information, in those things which fall not under our own observation, and which do not admit of proof in a way of reasoning, is called faith or believing. If we credit