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Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

In these reflections, it is obvious to the understanding what are the distinguishing features of a religious faith. The faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, was a practical faith. So far from being a faith without works, it was the parent and instigator of the most arduous works of virtue, that can be offered to the achievement of man. Similar was the faith of Moses, who chose to suffer with the people of God, rather than to be accounted the son of Pharoah's daughter, and live in the splendours and pleasures of a palace, honoured as the prince of a mighty kingdom, at that time, distinguished for civilization, arts, and learning. He had respect unto the recompense of the great reward, to the happiness of a future life, to the glory that shall be revealed in Christ.-Similar, likewise, was the faith of Abraham, who, at the command of the Lord, placed upon the altar, and was prepared to slay, his beloved son, Isaac, in whom rested the promise that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Reasoning upon this most remarkable instance of faith St. James saith; seest thou how faith wrought

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Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? Abraham believed, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Through faith he wrought some very arduous works of obedience; and his faith, adequate to, and proved in, the production of these works, was accounted to him for righteousness. Yet, Abraham, from the infirmities of a corrupted na ture, like all other sons of Adam, was liable to deviate from the unchangeable rule of right conduct. But, God was pleased to accept his faith in lieu of a perfect conformity with the law of righteousness. For the excellency of his faith, the inhabitant of a sincere and humble mind open to the natural influence of truth and goodness, and disposed to adore and trust in the Almighty author of them when revealed to it; a faith ever inducing the will to obedience, and therefore producing good works; God was pleased to accept him to that justification, which was afore ordained in the .then future atonement and merits of a crucified Saviour.

There is a faith unproductive of good works; but that belongs to the intellectual principle exceedingly

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Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Mau.

exceedingly depraved, or dead in sin; and, as St. James tells us, is the possession of the accursed spirits. This faith cannot be pleasing to God. The faith which He approves must . have in it a nature of benignity congenial with his own. It must work by love, by a love of goodness; by a love of producing felicity; by a love of Him, who is the eternal fountain of goodness and happiness; by a tender sympathy with the joys and sorrows of all those, who are the objects of His beneficence or mercy. We, as Abraham was, are justified by faith. But the same apostle, who tells us this, tells us, likewise, that charity, or love, is greater than faith. Therefore, the faith, which does not admit love, cannot justify; it profiteth nothing; it is dead.

From all that has been said, it is clear that the faith required in every professor of the true religion in every age of the world; the faith, that is at all times necessary to favour and acceptance with God; the faith that we are to cultivate, acquire, and hold fast, is a faith of practice; a faith imparting consolation, and a


Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

virtuous energy to the mind; generating the hope of a Heavenly reward, and animating to works of charity and utility-to the most unreserved obedience, the most exalted holiness. This saving principle has in it nothing that the enlightened understanding should disapprove. It is consonant with all that we know of weak and fallen man; with all that we can understand or conceive of the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of God; with the infirmity and becoming humility of the degenerate creature;—with the majesty and purity of the all-perfect Creator.

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Nothing but the faith, which I have here endeavoured to illustrate, can give peace and comfort, to the ever active and inquiring mind of man. Surrounded as we are with perils,

secret as well as known; liable to misfortunes and afflictions, which we cannot foresee, and which no skill or caution can avert; holding an uncertain life, of which the inevitable lot is trouble, which disease or adversity may render painful and wretched, of which contending or disordered elements may instantly deprive us, and which, in a few years must yield to the decay

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Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

decays of nature, and close in the unexplored darkness of the grave; whence can we derive consolation to the soul, if we have no hope in the favour of an Almighty and Eternal being, who made and who governs all things in wisdom, and goodness?

In the confident expectation of a future state, with no knowledge of Him, who has the disposal of it, or of the means of pleasing Him; at the best, we could contemplate it only with gloomy anxiety, uncertain whether the event of a moment might not at any time consign us to an eternity of suffering. In despite of all our care and vigilance, in the conduct of life, the thoughts of death would wither hope, and mar enjoyment. As futurity could not be divested of terrors; we should have no pure taste of even harmless pleasure, but in the forgetfulness of death and immortality.

If we looked upon death as the certain end of our being; the most cheering exhortation, which we could then address to ourselves, would be, let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die. As life is uncertain, let us make the most of it, while it lasts-let us snatch every exquisite

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