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have need of it, as long as they should continue in the body.
In this apostolic injunction we see,
The "confidence” here spoken of is a holy boldness in confessing Christ
[This is essential to the Christian character. Not even faith itself will avail for our salvation, where this is wanting : “ With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvationa."
" If we are ashamed of Christ, and deny him, he will be ashamed of us, and deny usb."
This holy fortitude we should maintain, under all circumstances. Never, for a moment, should we cast it away." If trials increase, we need it the more: if they abate, or even cease, we still need this divine quality ; because we know not how soon it may be called for, or to what an extent it may
be required.] And it will bring its own reward along with it
[It will keep us from all that disquietude and distraction which the menaces of the world might occasion in an unstable mind. It will induce a consistency of conduct, under all circumstances; and will bring into the soul, stability and peace. It will be to him who exercises it an unquestionable evidence of his own sincerity; and will doubtless be honoured with peculiar manifestations of the Divine favour. If more than ordinary supports are called for by reason of the augmented troubles that assault us, they shall be vouchsafed to us; even as they were to the Hebrew Youths in the furnace, when the Son of God himself condescended visibly to appear in their behalf.]
To every Christian is this requisite, because of, II. The occasion he will have for it
Different as may be the path of different persons in some respects, in their great outline they are all the same.
all these different steps may be clearly and distinctly seen : 1. Duty
[Every Christian “ does the will of God.” To believe in Christ, to receive every thing from Christ in the exercise of faith and prayer, and to give himself up to God without reserve; this is the one habit of his mind, and the one labour of his life. From day to day he does not his own will, or the will of an ungodly world; but the will of God, as it is revealed in his blessed word.] 2. Suffering
a Rom. x. 10.
b Matt. x. 32, 33.
[This will always more or less attend a faithful discharge of our duty to God. There will now, as formerly, be seasons of comparative peace: but it is not possible for unregenerate men to love the light, whether it be set before them in the word, or be exhibited before thein in the conduct of God's faithful servants. “ The servant cannot be greater than his Lord :" if they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, those of his household must assuredly expect some opprobrious designation at the least. And though, in comparison of imprisonment and death, this may be regarded as a light matter; yet is it not light, when we consider, that the names with which the godly are designated, are a signal for the world to load them with every species of obloquy and contempt.] 3. Patience
[Our blessed Lord was" as a sheep led to the slaughter," and, in the midst of all the indignities that were offered him,
opened not his mouth.” And in this inanner his faithful followers also “possess their souls in patience." They expect that they shall “ have need of patience ;" and it is their endeavour so to demean themselves under their trials, that “ patience may have its perfect work; that so they may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."] 4. Glory
[This is the object of their pursuit; and to this they press forward with all their might. They know, that “ if they draw back, it must be unto perdition;" and that it is by believing only, and maintaining their faith with steadfastness, that they ever can be saved. They are well assured, that the means must be used for the attainment of the end; and that if used aright, the end shall be attained. They are well aware, that duty must be performed, suffering expected, patience exercised: and in this way they have no doubt but that glory shall be ultimately secured. By a patient continuance in well-doing, they seek, and will obtain, eternal life."] APPLICATION
1. Let us be thankful for the peace that we are privileged to enjoy --
€ ver, 38, 39.
[These are days of extraordinary toleration and candour. We cannot indeed say that “the offence of the cross has ceased :” for it never can cease, as long as the ungodly constitute the great majority of the world. But persecution, except in private circles, is but little known. The flames of martyrdom are no longer kindled amongst us, as in the days of old. Let us, then, make a due improvement of this great mercy, for the more abundant edification of our own souls, and for a more active advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world 4.) 2. Let us, however, stand prepared for other days,
[No one can tell how soon the face of things may be changed. If Popery were to gain an ascendant again, it would, in all probability, bring with it all its attendant horrors. But even in private life we may be called to make severe sacrifices, and to suffer the loss of all our prospects upon earth. But let us remember, that Heaven will richly repay us for all that we may either lose or suffer: and if only we receive at last the promise” of eternal life, we shall never have reason to regret the "patience" we exercised, and the "confidence" we maintained.]
d See Acts ix. 31.
THE TRUE MEANS OF PERSEVERING TO THE END.
Heb. x. 38, 39. Now the just shall live by faith : but if any
man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
TRIALS are the portion of all the people of God: times and circumstances may occasion a considerable difference as to the measure in which individual believers may be called to endure them : but to all, without exception, it must still be said, as well as to the Hebrews of old, “ Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise." To all may the same consolation also be administered; namely, that our Lord and Saviour will speedily come to the relief of his afflicted people; and that, if only we believe in him we shall assuredly be saved.
The words in which the Apostle thus consoled the Hebrews, are taken from the Prophet Habakkuk; who was himself comforted with this assurance, when bewailing and deprecating the calamities which were about to be brought upon the Jewish nation by their Chaldean enemiesa. And they are applicable to the Church of God in all ages; since that same almighty Saviour, who promised to interpose in behalf of his believing people then, still engages to be their support in the time of trouble, and only requires that they should look to him with humble and assured confidence, that their trust in him shall not be in vain.
To this consolatory declaration the Apostle adds a most solemn caution, that, if any be turned back from God by means of their trials, it will be to their everlasting perdition.
That the warning may come more distinctly before you, I will endeavour to shew, I. The way to eternal life
This is the same in all ages : we must live by faith alone : whatever our own personal character may have been, we must look to God as “the Author and Giver of all good;" and on him as reconciled to us in the Son of his love, we must rely for a supply of all that we need either for body or for soul, for time or for eternity.
By faith we are first introduced into the divine life
[From the manner in which the Apostle quotes this prophecy in other places, it is evident that the sense of it is more large and comprehensive than we should of ourselves have imagined. In the Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians, St. Paul enters fully and argumentatively upon the subject of a sinner's justification before God; and shews, in opposition to all the erroneous notions both of Jews and Gentiles, that it is not by works of any kind, whether ceremonial or moral, but simply and entirely by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In both these epistles too he not only adduces this prophecy as confirming his doctrine, but he lays a peculiar
a Hab. i. 6, 12. and ii. 2-4.
stress upon it, as establishing his doctrine beyond all contradiction
Know ye then, as a matter of primary importance, that, if ever you would live before God, you must come to him as sinners destitute of all help or hope in yourselves, and must cast yourselves entirely upon that Saviour, “ whom he has set forth to be a propitiation for sin,” and “ not for your sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” There is no other way in which any man can come to Godo; nor any other name but that of Jesus, whereby any sinner in the universe can be saved".]
By faith also we must persevere in it even to the end
[There is no other way for our continuance in life than that by which we are first brought into a state of spiritual existence. As at the beginning it is said, “ He that hath the Son of God hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not lifee ;" so must it be said even to the end : for “all our fresh springs are in him:" “ He is the fountain of life; and in his light alone we can see light.” Have we continually fresh sins to be forgiven? There is no way of being cleansed from them but by washing continually in “ the fountain which has been once opened for sin and uncleanness?.” Have we on account of our remaining corruptions continual need of fresh supplies of grace? There is no other source of grace but He: “it hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwells,” and “out of his fulness must we all receive, even grace for graceh." Are our trials and afflictions multiplied from time to time? It is in his everlasting arms that we must be upheld, and “his grace alone that can be sufficient for us.” In a word, it is" by faith that we must stand" every momenti: “ by faith too we must walkk:” yea, from first to last,
we must live altogether by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave
himself for us?." " As we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so we must walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith as we have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving m."]
But in order to maintain our steadfastness in this way, it is necessary we should consider, II. The danger of departing from it
On few passages of Scripture do we behold more glaring perversions than in comments upon these
b Rom. i. 17. and Gal. iii. 11. d Acts iv. 12.
e 1 John v. 12. 6 Col. i. 19.
h John i, 16. Á 2 Cor. v. 7.
i Gal. ü. 20.
c John xiv. 6. f Zech. xii, 1. i Rom. xi. 20. m Col. ii. 6, 7,