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feelings are sometimes more, sometimes less, as every believer experiences. What an unsettled state, then, must he be in, who has no way to judge of himself, but by those changeable things ? What room does he leave for continual doubting, and what trouble and misery does he thereby bring upon himself, as well as dishonour to the unchangeableness of God in his nature and promises ? If the poor weak believer should
I am convinced of this; and I should be glad to have my faith so fixed, that I might be freed from doubts and fears. Then let it rest upon the word of God, which is the only ground of believing; and is, therefore, called the word of faith, upon which faith is built, and by which it is nourished, and grows up. The believer should receive and rely upon what God hath spoken, and because he hath spoken it: for his word changeth not. It abideth the same for ever; therefore, what it truly reports, stands upon an immoveable rock. Sense and feeling may report things contrary to it; but the believer can silence them with God has spoken it: for his faith
has evidence of things not seen, and he does not form his judgment by the things which are seen, but by the things which are not
Generally speaking, faith judges the very contrary to what sense does, and will not believe what sense perceives. Abraham against hope, believed in hope; so do all his children. They believe the pardon of sin-victory over sin—and the death of sin —the immortality of the body, though crumbled to dust and atoms--the second coming of Christ-and the eternal state of happiness or misery. Faith looks at God's word, calling the things which be not, as though they were, and is commonly forced to contradict sense.
Sense judges from what it sees-Faith from what God says. Sense is governed by what appears--Faith by what God says shall be. Sense looks inwardTaith looks outward. Faith can answer the seeming contradictions which sense opposes to it, from the word of God, which cannot be broken. And when sense is ready to despair, and all its fine frames and feelings are gone, then it is the believer's happy privilege still to trust in the Lord, and to have
a good hope, because of the word of his grace.
But, perhaps, thou art ready to say, it is written, that there is great joy and peace in believing, yea, joy unspeakable and full of glory. True, these are what faith produces, and not what it is. These are the fruits of faith, which it brings forth in most abundance from the inexhaustible fulness of Jesus. The more simple the believer is, the more he eyes Christ the object of faith, and the word the ground of faith ; the more clear and distinct will the actings of his faith be, and consequently it will bring greater peace into the conscience, and more joy into the affections. But still these fruits are not faith: no more than the fruit is the tree. The fruits do not go before faith, but follow it and grow from it. This is God's order. He gives
us his word to be the ground of our believing; and by believing, all things promised in the word, are made ours; then we go on comfortably, and are happy; but when sense is put in the place of the word, then the consequence is, that weak believers have
got a changeable rule to judge of themselves by, which hinders them from being established in believing, and from attaining the promised peace and joy.
Some may begin to object, What! are you against all lively frames, and sensible comforts ? No, God forbid. I would have them spring from the right cause, that they might be more pure and fixed than they commonly are. God's word and promises are an unchangeable foundation to rest upon, even when sensible feelings are gone; because Christ revealed in the word, and laid hold of in the promises, changeth not. Therefore, reader, for thine own sake and for the glory of God, take heed what thou buildest thy faith upon.
Beware of making any thing, that sense reports to thee, the ground of it; but rest it upon that which abideth for
The word of God is a sure foundation. It will never fail thee. Thou mayest safely depend upon it, because it cannot be broken; and steadfastly rely upon Christ to make its promises good to thee. There's thy object. Look at him. And since he
is thine, thy Saviour and thy God; make use of him as such; and trust body and soul, and all things belonging to them, in his hands; and among the rest, thy comforts. Be content he should give them to thee as seemeth to him good. Set not thy heart upon them, nor follow him, as the multitude did, for the sake of his loaves and fishes, and the dainties that he gave them; who, when these were with-held, soon forsook their kind Benefactor. Thou art by faith to make up all thy happiness in him, and in him only; and he himself being thine, let him give thee or take away what he will besides; thou hast enough. What! is not this comfort enough, that thou hast got the pearl of great price, the infinitely rich, inestimably precious Jesus, who has the wisdom of God to contrive what is best for thee, boundless love to dispose him, and almighty power to enable him to give it thee? And he has promised it; canst thou desire more? Walk then with him by faith, and not by sight. When the word of God is the ground of thy faith, which rests there, and is grown