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which could distinguish the will of God, from the mere opinion of a fellow-mortal—and that principle bore witness to Him. There could indeed be no sin in rejecting the claims of a true messenger from God, or in acknowledging the claims of a false one, unless man had the means of distinguishing them with certainty.
It may be said, that miracles give the substantial proof; but to this I may answer, that we know from the sacred history, that God often sent forth messengers without such credentials, and yet that He held man inexcusable for not recognizing them when they spoke his word to them; as, for instance, we read in Luke vii. 29, 30, that Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Lawyers for rejecting John the Baptist, saying of them, that “they frustrated the counsel of God against themselves” by so doing; and that He commended the Publicans, as having justified God in receiving him, although “ John did no miracle.” And we farther know, that since that period, through many ages, and in the vast majority of cases, the truth has been preached without any such credentials, so that the history of the miracles which accompanied its early preaching, has become itself a matter of human testimony, and thus, if the condemnation against unbelief rested on the existence of miracles only, that condemnation would, in a great measure, have ceased since the second century, and the ground of faith must have altogether been altered.
But, besides all this, we have seen from John vi. that the miracles might be witnessed and believed, and yet that the persons thus acknowledging the miracles might be altogether without true faith. Faith in God is a deeper thing than the belief of a miracle; for it apprehends the nature of God, and the character of God, and the presence of Godit seeth Him who is invisible. Many who believed in the resurrection of Lazarus desired to put him to death, on account of the popularity that his re-appearance brought to Jesus.
I may believe all miracles, without faith; for I may believe them without meeting God in my heart. A miracle is a reason for men to believe that God calls on them to know Him in a person or in a thing; but they may satisfy themselves with believing that He does so call them, without meeting His call. When I see holiness in any thing, I feel that I have a still greater reason for believing that
God is there, than when I see power; and if a miracle were wrought before me, in proof that God loved selfishness or deceit, I should feel that it would be giving true glory to God, to reject the power that wrought such a miracle, as an evil power, and to acknowledge His voice in my conscience, as His true presence and manifestation. But I must, in this case also, consciously meet God in the thing, before I can have faith in it.
Faith seeth God, because it is itself of the nature of God; nothing else could see Him -nothing but the Spirit of God, can apprehend God. And therefore man could not have faith, unless God had given him His Spirit. But the redemption of man, consists in this gift being given to him in Jesus Christ. And faith is this gift in exercise; and the condemnation on the want of faith is, the condemnation on having hid the talent in the earth, or having wrapped it in a napkin.
Faith is opposed to sight, in the Bible, as the spirit of God is opposed to the spirit of this world. To live by faith is to live in the spirit of God, having reference to God and to his will, and to his yet unfinished purpose, expecting its consummation on the other side of death. To live by sight is to
live in the spirit of this world, having reference to the maxims and principles recognized amongst men, and to purposes which have their consummation on this side of death. I am conscious of a principle within me which condemns things which are highly approved in the world, and approves of things which are despised in the world—80 that I know that if I gave continual expression and utterance to this principle, by my words and actions, I should be considered as a disturber of the peace, and an enemy of all with whom I have to do. And yet I am most assured that the principle giving forth these words and actions, is the will of God revealed by his own voice in my conscience, and the consciences of all men, and therefore that these words and actions must have a witness in their favour, even within the hearts of those who are most offended by them. demnation of them, however, is that they are not suitable to this world. But I know that the will of God must finally be the universal law, and that a system of things which is not suitable to the expression of His will is evil, and must soon pass away in righteous judgment; and that then a kingdom will come in which it will not be dangerous to do and to
speak His will. In the meantime however, I must choose whether I shall take my part with the present world, and suppress the will of God within me or whether I shall take my part with the coming kingdom of God, and be content to be considered as an alien or an enemy here. I must choose between faith and sight. The Bible is God's message to me, to help me in my perplexity; it tells me that this present state of things is but for a short time—and it sets the history of Christ before me to direct me and encourage me in the right choice—and it shows me my connection with that history, by making known to me the oneness of Christ with the word in my own heart. It shows me Jesus Christ persevering in all things to do the Father's will, and passing through danger, and sorrow, and death, holding that will as his guide, and strength, and consolation-and it shows me how that will, wbich he meekly followed, though it led him to the cross and the grave, went down with him into the grave, , and lifted him up out of it, so that death should henceforth have no dominion over him, and placed him at the Father's right hand; from whence he is ever saying to men, “ Follow me, and where I am there ye shall be also;"