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the broken spirit, the contrite heart, for it leads us to him "who hath torn and will heal us, who hath smitten and will bind
But as the conviction of sin, and consequent repentance, are necessary to induce us to come to the fountain of life, so also is faith in its efficacy necessary to enable us to profit by its healing power. If man have no knowledge of his disease, he will not pray. If no remedy be provided, he need not pray. If he have no faith in that remedy, he cannot pray. Without faith, the half formed wish of the heart ascends not to the lips, but sinks into the depths of the soul, blighted by the hopelessness of despondency. The dying Israelite was conscious of his danger, and listened with anxious ear to the promise of relief, and turned with eager eye to the emblem of safety. Thus must it be with us. We must turn to Christ in the confidence and full assurance of faith. Faith indeed is truly represented as the main-spring, the
1 Hosea vi. 1.
prime mover of the Christian's conduct, the chief material in the formation of the Christian's character. And have we not sufficient ground for faith? Moses declared unto the Jew the conditions of healing. Moses laid before the Israelite the terms of mercy. And lo! a greater than Moses is here. The Saviour himself has stooped to preach salvation; to be the way, and the truth, as well as the life; to proclaim his own promises by his own lips; and to be the minister of his own mercies, the messenger of his own covenant, the channel of his own grace. He has brought life and immortality to light. He has taken away sin by the sacrifice of himself. He has rent asunder the veil which concealed eternity from our view. He has given those blessed hopes which throw their light across the Christian's grave, and illuminate the Christian's resting-place. Shall we then doubt, oppressed though we are, by the weight of our manifold sins? Shall we be faithless, borne down as we are, by the burden of accumulated transgressions? Shall we
hesitate to look unto Jesus, when the sickness and faintness of the heart come, which spring from the convictions of sin? Surely, we cannot doubt his power to save surely, we cannot doubt his skill to heal. The Israelite doubted not when he saw the brazen serpent lifted up; and surely, the change from the emblem to the reality caused no diminution in the efficacy of the atonement, no interruption of its healing virtue. If we approach him under the painful sense of our own suffering, under the trembling dread of our own danger, with heartfelt purposes of amendment; if with sincere and well-grounded faith we cry," Lord, save us; we perish :" the same glorious flood of light which shone upon the darkened and despairing mind of the dying penitent, as he turned with suppliant confidence to the Saviour, who hung, lifted up from the earth, upon the cross beside him, and said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom';" the same shall still beam upon
our souls, uninterrupted in its passage, undiminished in its splendour; the same efficacy shall purify the soul, abolish the whole body of sin, and give us the blessed assurance that we are passed from death. unto life.
But can we not attain to everlasting life without this faith? Can we not be healed in some other way than this? Is there no other name whereby we can be saved? The Scriptures tell of none. As to the Israelites, the brazen serpent alone was the saviour of life, so to all mankind, Christ alone, through faith in his name, can confer this inestimable blessing. Other ways may, indeed, be pointed out, more brilliant in appearance, more flattering to the pride of human in-. tellect; which seem to shed more glory upon man himself. Other ways may be found, in competition with which, this may seem only as the little stream of Jordan, when compared with the mighty rivers of Damascus. Yet, it is only this despised and neglected stream that can cleanse the leper; it is only this stream,
upon whose banks the tree of life flourishes, "whose leaves are for the healing of the nations 1." It was not, in fact, to confer honour upon man, that this remedy was devised by Almighty wisdom; but that God should receive the glory.
Bound as we are to the earth, dependent as we are, and ever must be, whilst surrounded with temporal things, upon sensible objects for our conceptions and for our support, we are not left entirely without emblems of the great redemption provided for man, of the mighty atonement offered for the sins of the whole world. In that last holy institution of Christ, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we have indeed a heavenly and enduring sign. Not merely a memorial of past mercies, as the brazen serpent in the sanctuary was to Israel, but a sure and certain pledge of continual favour, of ever present grace. In it, we do indeed commemorate the Lord's death, and the
1 Revel. xxii. 2.