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tokens of his approbation, as shall richly recompense all that you may either do or suffer for him, though it were a thousand times more than was ever yet done or suffered by mortal
2. What should be your comfort in death
[What is death to a child of God? It is not death: no; it is a sleep, a "falling asleep in Jesus"." This it is, as it respects the body; which shall surely "awake from the dust"," and be re-united to the soul". And what shall it be to the soul? A translation, such as Enoch's was. Could you but see what takes place at the departure of a real saint, you would see the angels waiting to catch his spirit at the instant of its departure from the body, and bearing it on their wings into the presence of its God. And is not this an object to be desired? Do you wonder that Paul "desired to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better" than any state on earth can be? Regard ye death, then, in this view and learn to number it amongst your treasures; and in the daily habit of your minds, "be looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of Christz"
s 1 Thess. iv. 14. Acts vii. 60.
y 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22.
t Isai. xxvi. 19.
x Phil. i. 23.
z 2 Pet. iii. 12.
THE NECESSITY OF FAITH.
Heb. xi. 6. Without faith it is impossible to please [God.] THIS whole chapter is one continued commendation of faith which is marked, throughout, as the one source of every good action, and as the certain prelude to everlasting felicity. But, in what is spoken of Enoch, there seems, to a superficial observer, to be no connexion with faith: for his translation was a mere act of God's favour: and, though it is said that "he pleased God," it may be supposed that it was by his works that he approved himself to God, and not by any actings of faith. But, in my text, the Apostle proves that faith was in Enoch the leading principle from which his works proceeded, and the true object of God's peculiar approbation. His argument may be thus stated in a few words:
'Without faith it is impossible to please God." But Enoch did please God: therefore it is clear that Enoch believed; and that his works, whatever they were, were the fruits of faith. Now, in confirmation of this momentous truth, I will shew,
I. What is that " faith, without which we cannot please God"-
Let the Apostle himself be heard in the words following my text. Three things he points out, as the objects of true and saving faith. It has respect to God,
1. As having an independent and immutable existence
[The believer does not conceive of God as resembling the gods of the heathen, or as having a derived existence; but as existing necessarily from everlasting; and as immutable in every one of his perfections; "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."]
2. As being the Moral Governor of the universe
[This is implied in the regard he manifests to those who seek him. For, if he were not observant of the ways of men, and if he did not inspect the most secret motions of their hearts, he could not "reward" men according to their works.] 3. As fulfilling, for our good, all his covenant engagements
[This is very particularly intended in our text. For how could he "reward" men, if they were not first" accepted in his beloved Son?" Men are sinners; and, as sinners, condemned; and utterly incapable of removing their guilt and condemnation by any thing which they themselves can do. It is through the atonement which Christ has offered for them, that they obtain reconciliation with God; and through Christ alone can any work of theirs come up with acceptance before God. But the mediation of Christ was agreed upon between the Father and Son from all eternity; Christ engaging to "make his soul an offering for sin ;" and the Father engaging, for his sake, to accept the person and services of all that should believe in him. This, therefore, is essential to saving faith: and, in order to "please God," we must unite these three things: a belief in God's eternal and immutable existence; a belief in him as the Moral Governor of the universe;
a Isai. liii. 10.
and a belief in him as fulfilling to us all his covenant engagements.]
Now, "without such faith," we are told, "it is impossible to please God." Let me then proceed to shew you,
II. Why it is so indispensable for that end
1. Without such faith, we cannot have any right dispositions towards God
[What can we possess of love to an unknown being? or what of fear, towards one who neither regards, nor will ever take cognizance of, our actions? What can we feel of gratitude towards one, to whom we can trace no obligations? or of affiance in one, of whose agency in the affairs of men we are altogether ignorant? It is obvious, that, so far as respects religious feelings, we are no better than "Atheists in the world." How, then, can God be "pleased" with such wretches as these?]
2. Without such faith we cannot render unto God any acceptable service
[Any service, in order to be accepted of God, must be such as he himself has required: it must have respect to his authority, as commanding it; to his word, as the rule to which it is to be conformed; and to his glory, as the end for which it is to be done. But, if we possess not faith in God, how can we have respect to his authority? or how can we conform to his word? or how can we desire to advance his glory? Any pretence of this kind must be downright hypocrisy or delusion: and, whatever the service be, it can be no better, in God's estimation, than "the cutting off a dog's neck for sacrifice, and the offering of swine's blood.”]
Inquire, then, I pray you,
1. Into the nature and reality of your faith
[Men, if they inquire into their state at all, are apt to confine their attention to their works. But here we see how necessary it is to inquire into our faith; since, if that be not sound and scriptural, nothing else can be right before God. Inquire, whether you have any deep conviction even of the existence of God; and still more, of his moral government, and of his inspecting every thing in order to judge the world in righteousness at the last day. Inquire still further, what e Isai. lxvi. 3.
Eph. ii. 12. the Greek.
views you have of God, as covenanting with his Son to expiate our guilt, to renovate our souls, and to present our services to him perfumed with the incense of his own merits, and rendered acceptable through his prevailing intercession. Indeed, my brethren, these should be subjects of our most anxious inquiry from day to day. St. Paul says, " Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." And I also would say the same: for, if" without a true faith it is impossible to please God," you cannot but feel the indispensable importance of having this matter clearly ascertained, and distinctly determined.]
2. Into the fruits and effects of your faith—
[It is here taken for granted, that the believer" comes to God" and it is certain that true faith will bring us to God, in deeply penitential sorrow, and in earnest cries for mercy. If we really believe in God, we shall "diligently seek him" in the use of all his appointed ordinances, and in the name of his only dear Son. Yes, and we shall have our expectations of mercy greatly enlarged. We shall delight to view God, not merely as a Sovereign, but as "a Rewarder," who is at all times waiting for opportunities to express the utmost possible love towards his obedient people. Say now, brethren, whether such be your views, your contemplations, your joys? Of what value is your faith, if it be not productive of these fruits? If it operate not in this way, it is no better than the faith of devils. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak." But we desire that every one of you" make these things a subject of most earnest inquiry; that so, after a diligent and candid examination, ye may discern your real state before God; and may be brought "to a full assurance of hope" that ye are really "pleasing God" in this world, and shall be "rewarded by him" in the world to come.]
Heb. xi. 7. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
OF all the principles which operate in the Christian's mind, faith is the most distinguished. In some
respects indeed love claims a preference, because it is the very image of the Deity, and will exist when faith and hope shall be no more". But as faith is that grace which most of all honours God, so it is that which God most delights to honour. On many occasions wherein a bright assemblage of graces shone forth, our blessed Lord overlooked all others, and commended the faith. The chapter before us recounts the exercises of faith in the most eminent saints from the beginning of the world to the days of the Apostles. We shall call your attention at present to the faith of Noah; and,
I. Illustrate it
The different things here spoken respecting it require us to notice
1. Its operations
He credited the "Divine warning"
[God had declared to him his intention to destroy the world by a deluge. And how did he receive the warning? Did he indulge vain reasonings about the practicability of such an event; or pretend to be more merciful than God? No. Though there was not the remotest appearance of such a thing, he believed it would certainly take place: and though to proud reason it seemed hard that all living creatures, old and young, men and beasts, should be involved in one undiscriminating ruin, yet he doubted not but that it should be as God had said; and was persuaded that "the Judge of all the earth would do right."]
He was "moved with fear" on account of it
[He had nothing to fear respecting his eternal state, because he was a perfect and upright man, and walked in holy fellowship with his God. But God was incensed by the wickedness of his creatures, insomuch that "he repented he had made them :" and he determined to pour out his fury upon them to the uttermost. Did it not then become Noah, as well as others, to fear and tremble? Did it become him to be so absorbed in selfishness as to be unconcerned about the destruction, the sudden, and perhaps everlasting, destruction, of all the human race? Indeed a dread of the Divine judg ments was necessary, to stir him up to use the proper means
a 1 John iv. 8.
b 1 Cor. xiii. 13.
e Matt. viii. 10. and xv. 28. Mark x. 52. VOL. XIX.
Luke vii. 50.