FAITH: WHAT IS IT?
HOW CANIT BE OBTAINED?
DELIVERED ON LORDS-DAY MORNING, JULY 17TH, 1881,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
By grace are ye saved through faith. Ephesians 2:8.
I MEAN to dwell mainly upon that expression, Through faith. I callattention, however, first of all, to the fountain head of our salvation, whichis the grace of God. By grace are ye saved. Because God is gracious,therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It is notbecause of anything in them, or that ever can be in them, that they aresaved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion,mercy, and grace of God. Tarry a moment, then, at the wellhead. Beholdthe pure river of water of life as it proceeds out of the throne of God andof the Lamb. What an abyss is the grace of God! Who can fathom it? Likeall the rest of the divine attributes, it is infinite. God is full of love, forGod is love; God is full of goodness, and the very name God is butshort for good. Unbounded goodness and love enter into the veryessence of the Godhead. It is because his mercy endureth for ever thatmen are not destroyed; because his compassions fail not that sinners arebrought to himself and forgiven. Right well remember this, for else youmay fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is thechannel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and sourceeven of faith itself. Faith is the work of Gods grace in us. No man can saythat Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost. No man cometh unto me,saith Christ, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. So thatfaith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace isthe first and last moving cause of salvation, and faith, important as it is, isonly an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We aresaved through faith, but it is by grace. Sound forth those words as withthe archangels trumpet: By grace are ye saved.
Faith occupies the position of a channel or conduit-pipe. Grace is thefountain and the stream: faith is the aqueduct along which the flood ofmercy flows down to refresh the thirsty sons of men. It is a great pity whenthe aqueduct is broken. It is a sad sight to see around Rome the manynoble aqueducts which no longer convey water into the city, because thearches are broken and the marvellous structures are in ruins. The aqueductmust be kept entire to convey the current; and, even so, faith must be trueand sound, leading right up to God and coming right down to ourselves,that it may become a serviceable channel of mercy to our souls. Still, Iagain remind you that faith is the channel or aqueduct, and not the fountainhead, and we must not look so much to it as to exalt it above the divinesource of all blessing which lies in the grace of God. Never make a Christout of your faith, nor think of it as if it were the independent source ofyour salvation. Our life is found in looking unto Jesus, not in looking toour own faith. By faith all things become possible to us; yet the power isnot in the faith, but in the God upon whom faith relies. Grace is thelocomotive, and faith is the chain by which the carriage of the soul isattached to the great motive power. The righteousness of faith is not themoral excellence of faith, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which faithgrasps and appropriates. The peace within the soul is not derived from thecontemplation of our own faith, but it comes to us from him who is ourpeace, the hem of whose garment faith touches, and virtue comes out ofhim into the soul.
However, it is a very important thing that we look well to the channel, andtherefore at this time we will consider it, as God, the Holy Ghost, shallenable us. Faith, what is it? Faith, why is it selected as the channel ofblessing? Faith, how can it be obtained and increased?
I. FAITH, WHAT IS IT? What is this faith concerning which it is said, Bygrace are ye saved through faith? There are many descriptions of faith, butalmost all the definitions I have met with have made me understand it lessthan I did before I saw them. The negro said when he read the chapter thathe would confound it, and it is very likely that he did so, though he meantto expound it. So, brethren, we may explain faith till nobody understandsit. I hope I shall not be guilty of that fault. Faith is the simplest of all things,and perhaps because of its simplicity it is the more difficult to explain.
What is faith? It is made up of three things knowledge, belief, and trust.Knowledge comes first. Romanist divines hold that a man can believe whathe does not know. Perhaps a Romanist can; but I cannot. How shall theybelieve in him of whom they have not heard? I want to be informed of afact before I can possibly believe it. I believe this, I believe that; but Icannot say that I believe a great many things of which I have never heard.Faith cometh by hearing: we must first hear, in order that we may knowwhat is to be believed. They that know thy name will put their trust inthee. A measure of knowledge is essential to faith: hence the importanceof getting knowledge. Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and yoursoul shall live, such was the word of the ancient prophet, and it is theword of the gospel still. Search the Scriptures and learn what the HolySpirit teacheth concerning Christ and his salvation. Seek to know God, that God is, and is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him. May hegive you the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. Know thegospel: know what the good news is, how it talks of free forgiveness, andof change of heart, of adoption into the family of God, and of countlessother blessings. Know God, know his gospel, and know especially ChristJesus the Son of God, the Savior of men, united to us by his human nature,and united to God, seeing he is divine, and thus able to act as mediatorbetween God and man, able to lay his hand upon both, and to be theconnecting link between the sinner and the Judge of all the earth.Endeavour to know more and more of Christ. After Paul had beenconverted more than twenty years, he tells the Philippians that he desiredto know Christ; and depend upon it, the more we know of Jesus, the morewe shall wish to know of him, that so our faith in him may increase.Endeavour especially to know the doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ, forthat is the center of the target at which faith aims; that is the point uponwhich saving faith mainly fixes itself, that God was in Christ, reconcilingthe world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. Knowthat he was made a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is everyone thathangeth on a tree. Drink deep into the doctrine of the substitutionarywork of Christ, for therein lies the sweetest possible comfort to the guiltysons of men, since the Lord made him to be sin for us that we might bemade the righteousness of God in him. Faith, thou, begins withknowledge; hence the value of being taught in divine truth; for to knowChrist is life eternal.
Then the mind goes on to believe that these things are true. The soulbelieves that God is, and that he hears the cries f sincere hearts; that thegospel is from God; that justification by faith is the grand truth that Godhath revealed in these last days by his Spirit more clearly than before. Thenthe heart believes that Jesus is verily and in truth our God and Savior, theRedeemer of men, the prophet, priest, and king unto his people. Dearhearers, I pray that you may at once come to this. Get firmly to believe thatthe blood of Jesus Christ, Gods dear Son, cleanseth us from all sin; thathis sacrifice is complete and fully accepted of God on mans behalf, so thathe that believeth on Jesus is not condemned. So far you have made anadvance towards faith, and one more ingredient is needed to complete it,which is trust. Commit yourself to the merciful God; rest your hope on thegracious gospel; trust your soul on the dying and living Savior; wash awayyour sins in the atoning blood; accept his perfect righteousness, and all iswell. Trust is the life-blood of faith: there is no saving faith without it.
ThePuritans were accustomed to explain faith by the word recumbency. Youknow what it means. You see me leaning upon this rail, leaning with all myweight upon it; even thus lean upon Christ. It would be a better illustrationstill if I were to stretch myself at full length and rest my whole person upona rock, lying flat upon it. Fall flat upon Christ. Cast yourself upon him, restin him, commit yourself to him. That done, you have exercised saving faith.Faith is not a blind thing; for faith begins with knowledge. It is not aspeculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not anunpractical, dreamy thing; for faith trusts, and stakes its destiny upon thetruth of revelation. Faith ventures its all upon the truth of God; it is not apleasant word to use, but the poet employed it, and it suggests mymeaning:
Venture on him, venture wholly;Let no other trust intrude.
That is one way of describing what faith is: I wonder whether I haveconfounded it already.
Let me try again. Faith is believing that Christ is what he is said to be, that,he will do what he has promised to do, and expecting this of him. TheScriptures speak of Jesus Christ as being God, God in human flesh: asbeing perfect in his character; as being made a sin-offering on our behalf; asbearing sin in his own body on the tree. The Scripture speaks of him ashaving finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought ineverlasting righteousness.
The Scriptures further tell us that he roseagain, that he ever liveth to make intercession for us, that he has goneup into the glory, and has taken possession of heaven on the behalf of hispeople, and that he will shortly come again to judge the world inrighteousness and his people with equity. We are most firmly to believethat it is even so; for this is the testimony of God the Father when he said,This is my beloved Son; hear ye him. This also is testified by God theHoly Spirit; for the Spirit has borne witness to Christ, both by the Wordand by divers miracles, and by his working in the hearts of men. We are tobelieve this testimony to be true.
Faith also believes that Christ will do what he has promised; that if he haspromised to cast out none that come to him, it is certain that be will notcast us out if we come to him. Faith believes that if Jesus said, The waterthat I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up intoeverlasting life, it must be true; and if we get this living water from Christit will abide in us, and will well up within us in streams of holy life.Whatever Christ has promised to do he will do, and we must believe this soas to look for pardon, justification, preservation, and eternal glory from hishands, according as he has promised.
Then comes the next necessary step. Jesus is what he is said to be, Jesuswill do what be says he will do; therefore we must each one trust him,saying, He will be to me what he says he is, and he will do to me what hehas promised to do; I leave myself in the hands of him who is appointed tosave, that he may save me. I rest upon his promise that he will do even ashe has said. This is a saving faith, and he that hath it hath everlasting life.
Whatever his dangers and difficulties, whatever his darkness anddepression, whatever his infirmities and sins, he that believeth thus onChrist Jesus is not condemned, and shall never come into condemnation.May that explanation be of some service. I trust it may be used by theSpirit of God.
But now I thought, as it was a very hot and heavy morning, that I hadbetter give you a number of illustrations, lest anybody should be inclined togo to sleep. If anybody should be drowsy, will his next neighbor just nudgehim a little by accident; for it may be as well while we are here to beawake, especially with such a subject on hand as this. The illustrations willbe such as have been commonly used, and perhaps I may be able to giveone or two of my own. Faith exists in various degrees, according to theamount of knowledge, or other cause. Some times faith is little more than asimple clinging to Christ: a sense of dependence, and a willingness so todepend. When you are down at the seaside, as we might all of us wish tobe, you will see the limpet sticking to the rock; you walk with a soft treadup to the rock with your walking stick and strike the limpet with a rapidblow, and off he comes. Try the next limpet in that way. You have givenhim warning; he heard the blow with which you struck his neighbor, and heclings with all his might. You will never get him off; not you! Strike, andstrike again, but you may as soon break the rock. Our little friend, thelimpet, does not know much, but be clings. He cannot tell us much aboutwhat he is clinging to, he is not acquainted with the geological formation ofthe rock, but he clings. He has found something to cling to, that is his littlebit of knowledge, and he uses it by clinging to the rock of his salvation; it isthe limpets life to cling. Thousands of Gods people have no more faiththan this; they know enough to cling to Jesus with all their heart and soul,and this suffices. Jesus Christ is to them a Savior strong and mighty, andlike a rock immovable and immutable; they cleave to him for dear life, andthis clinging saves them.
God gives to his people the propensity to cling. Look at the sweet peawhich grows in your garden. Perhaps it has fallen down upon the gravelwalk. Lift it tip against the laurel or the trellis, or put a stick near it, and itcatches hold directly, because there are little hooks ready prepared withwhich it grasps anything which comes in its way: it was meant to growupwards, and so it is provided with tendrils. Every child of God has histendrils about him thoughts, and desires, and hopes with which hehooks on to Christ and the promise. Though this is a very simple sort offaith, it is a very complete and effectual form of it, and, in fact, it is theheart of all faith, and that to which we are often driven when we are indeep trouble, or when our mind is somewhat bemuddled by our beingsickly or depressed in spirit. We can cling when we can do nothing else,and that is the very soul of faith. O poor heart, if thou dost not yet know asmuch about the gospel as we could wish thee to know, cling to what thoudost know. If as yet thou art only like a lamb that wades a little into theriver of life, and not like leviathan who stirs the mighty deep to the bottom,yet drink; for it is drinking, and not diving, that will save thee. Cling, then!
Cling to Jesus; for that is faith.
Another form of faith is this, in which a man depends upon another from aknowledge of the superiority of that other, and follows him. I do not thinkthe limpet knows much about the rock, but in this next phase of faith thereis more knowledge. A blind man trusts himself with his guide because heknows that his friend can see, and trusting, he walks where his guideconducts him. If the poor man is born blind he does not know what sightis; but he knows that there is such a thing as sight, and that it is possessedby his friend, and therefore he freely puts his hand into the hand of theseeing one, and follows his leadership. This is as good an image of faith aswell can be; we know that Jesus has about him merit, and power, andblessing which we do not possess, and therefore we gladly trust ourselvesto him, and he never betrays our confidence.
Every boy that goes to school has to exert faith while learning. Hisschoolmaster teaches him geography, and instructs him as to the form ofthe earth, and the existence of certain great cities and empires. The boydues not himself know that these things are true, except that he believes histeacher, and the books put into his hands. That is what you will have to dowith Christ if you are to be saved you must just know because he tellsyou, and believe because he assures you it is even so, and trust yourselfwith him because he promises you that salvation will be the result. Almostall that you and I know has come to his by faith. A scientific discovery hasbeen made, and we are sure of it. On what ground do we believe it? On theauthority of certain well-known men of learning, whose repute isestablished. We have never made or seen their experiments, but we believetheir witness. Just so you are to do with regard to Christ: because heteaches you certain truths you are to be his disciple, and believe his words,and trust yourself with him. He is infinitely superior to you, and presentshimself to your confidence as your Master and Lord. If you will receivehim and his words you shall be saved.
Another and a higher form of faith is that faith which grows out of love.Why does a boy trust his father? You and I know a little more about hisfather than he does, and we do not rely upon him quite so implicitly; butthe reason why the child trusts his father is because he loves him. Blessedand happy are they who have a sweet faith in Jesus, intertwined with deepaffection for him. They are charmed with his character and delighted withhis mission, they are carried away by the lovingkindness that he hasmanifested, and now they cannot help trusting him because they so muchadmire, revere, and love him. It is hard to make you doubt a person whomyou love. If you are at last driven to it, then comes the awful passion ofjealousy, which is strong as death and cruel as the grave but till such acrushing of the heart shall come, love is all trustfulness and confidence.The way of loving trust in the Savior may thus be illustrated. A lady is thewife of the most eminent physician of the day. She is seized with adangerous illness, and is smitten down by its power; yet she is wonderfullycalm and quiet, for her husband has made this disease his special study, andhas healed thousands similarly afflicted. She is not in the least troubled, forshe feels perfectly safe in the hands of one so dear to her, in whom skill andlove are blended in their highest forms. Her faith is reasonable and natural,her husband from every point of view deserves it of her. This is the kind offaith which the happiest of believers exercise towards Christ. There is nophysician like him, none can save as he can; we love him, and he loves us,and therefore we put ourselves into his hands, accept whatever heprescribes, and do whatever he bids. We feel that nothing can be wronglyordered while he is the director of our affairs, for he loves us too well to letus perish, or suffer a single needless pang.
Faith also realizes the presence of the living God and Savior, and thus itbreeds in the soul a beautiful calm and quiet like that which was seen in alittle child in the time of tempest. Her mother was alarmed, but the sweetgirl was pleased; she clapped her hands with delight. Standing at thewindow when the flashes came most vividly, she cried in childish accents,Look, mamma! How beautiful! How beautiful! Her mother said, Mydear, come away, the lightning is terrible; but she begged to be allowed tolook out and see the lovely light which God was making all over the sky,for she was sure God would not do his little child any harm. But hearkento the terrible thunder, said her mother. Did you not say, mamma, thatGod was speaking in the thunder? Yes, said her trembling parent. O,said the darling, how nice it is to hear him. He talks very loud, but I thinkit is because he wants the deaf people to hear him. Is it not so, mamma?Thus she went talking on; as merry as a bird was she, for God was real toher, and she trusted him. To her the lightning was Gods beautiful light,and the thunder was Gods wonderful voice, and she was happy. I dare sayher mother knew a good deal about the laws of nature and the energy ofelectricity; and little was the comfort which her knowledge brought her.The childs knowledge was less showy, but it was far more certain andprecious. We are so conceited nowadays that we are too proud to becomforted by self-evident truth, and prefer to make ourselves wretchedwith questionable theories. Hood sang a deep spiritual truth when hemerrily said,
I remember, I remember,The fir trees dark and high;I used to think their slender topsWere close against the sky;It was a childish ignorance,But now tis little joyTo know Im farther off from heavnThan when I was a boy.
For my own part I would rather be a child again than grow perversely wise.Faith, is to be a child towards Christ, believing in him as a real and presentperson, at this very moment near us, and ready to bless us. This may seemto be a childish fancy; but it is such childishness are we must all come to ifwe would be happy in the Lord. Except ye be converted, and become aslittle children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Faith takesChrist at his word, as a child believes his father, and trusts him in allsimplicity with past, present, and future. God give us such faith!
A firm form of faith arises out of assured knowledge; this comes of growthin grace, and is the faith which believes Christ because it knows him, trustshim because it has proved him to be infallibly faithful. This faith asks notfor signs and tokens, but bravely believes. Look at the faith of the mastermariner I have often wondered at it. He looses his cable, he steamsaway from the shore. For days, weeks, or even months he never sees sail orshore, yet on he goes day and night without fear, till one morning he findshimself just opposite to the desired haven towards which he has beensteering. How has he found his way over the trackless deep? He has trustedin his compass, his nautical almanack, his glass, and the heavenly bodies,and obeying their guidance, without sighting shore, he has steered soaccurately that he has not to change a point to get into port. It is awonderful thing that sailing without sight. Spiritually it is a blessed thing toleave the shores of sight, and say, Good-bye to inward feelings, cheeringprovidences, signs, tokens, and so forth: I believe in God, and I steer forheaven straight away. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet havebelieved: to them shall be administered an abundant entrance at the last,and a safe voyage on the way. This is the faith which makes it easy tocommit our soul and all its eternal interests into the Saviors keeping. Oneman goes to the bank and puts his money into it with a measure ofconfidence; but another has looked into the banks accounts, and has beenbehind the scenes and made sure of its having a large reserve of wellinvested capital; he puts in his money with the utmost assurance. He knowsand is established in his faith, and so he cheerfully commits his all to thebank. Even so, we who know Christ are glad to place our whole being inhis hands, knowing that he is able to keep us even unto the end.God give us more and more of an assured confidence in Jesus until itcomes to be an unwavering faith, so that we never doubt, butunquestioningly believe.
Look at the ploughman; he labors with his ploughin the wintry months, when there is not a bough on the tree nor a bird thatsings to cheer him, and after he has ploughed he takes the precious cornfrom the granary, of which perhaps he hath little enough, and he buries it inthe furrows, assured that it will come up again. Because he has seen aharvest fifty times already he looks for another, and in faith he scatters theprecious grain. To all appearance, the most absurd thing that ever wasdone by mortal man is to throw away good corn, burying it in the ground.If you had never seen or heard of its results, it would seem the way ofwaste and not the work of husbandry; yet the farmer has no doubt, helongs to be allowed to cast away his seed, in faith he even covets fairweather that he may bury his corn; and if you tell him that he is doing anabsurd thing, he smiles at your ignorance, and tells you that thus harvestscome. This is a fair picture of the faith which grows of experience: it helpsus to act in a manner contrary to appearances, it leads us to commit our allto the keeping of Christ, burying our hopes and our very lives with him injoyful confidence that if we be dead with him we shall also live with him.Jesus Christ who rose from the dead will raise us up through his death untonewness of life, and give no a harvest of joy and peace.
Give up everything into the hand of Christ, and you shall have it back withan abundant increase. May we get strong faith, so that as we have no doubtof the rising and setting of the sun, so we may never doubt the Saviorsworking for us in every hour of need. We have already trusted in our Lord,and have never been confounded, therefore let us go on to rely upon himmore and more implicitly; for never shall our faith in him surpass thebounds of his deservings. Have faith in God, and then hear Jesus say, Yebelieve in God, believe also in me.
II. Thus far have I done my best to answer what faith is; we shall nowenquire, WHY FAITH IS SELECTED AS THE CHANNEL OF SALVATION?
Bygrace are ye saved through faith. It becomes us to be modest in answeringsuch a question, for Gods ways are not always to be understood; but, asfar as we can tell, faith has been selected as the channel of grace becausethere is a natural adaptation in faith to be used as the receiver. Supposethat I am about to give a poor man an alms: I put it into his hand why?Well, it would hardly be fitting to put it into his ear, or to lay it upon hisfoot; the hand seems made on purpose to receive. So faith in the mentalbody is created on purpose to be a receiver: it is the hand of the man, andthere is a fitness in bestowing grace by its means. Do let me put this veryplainly. Faith which receives Christ is as simple an act as when your childreceives an apple from you, because you hold it out and promise to give itthe apple if it comes for it. The belief and the receiving relate only to anapple, but they make up precisely the same act as the faith which deals witheternal salvation, and what the childs hand is to the apple, that your faith isto the perfect salvation of Christ. The childs hand does not make theapple, nor alter the apple, it only takes it; and faith is chosen by God to bethe receiver of salvation, because it does not pretend to make salvation,nor to help in it, but it receives it.
Faith, again, is doubtless selected because it gives all the glory to God. It isof faith that it might be by grace, and it is of grace that there may be noboasting; for God cannot endure pride. Paul saith, Not of works, lest anyman should boast. The hand which receives charity does not say, I am tobe thanked for accepting the gift; that would be absurd. When the handconveys bread to the mouth it does not say to the body, Thank me, for Ifeed you. It is a very simple thing that the hand does, though a verynecessary thing; but it never arrogates glory to itself for what it does. SoGod has selected faith to receive the unspeakable gift of his grace becauseit cannot take to itself any credit, but must adore the gracious God who isthe giver of all good.
Next, God selects faith as the channel of salvation because it is a suremethod, linking man with God. When man confides in God there is a pointof union between them, and that union guarantees blessing. Faith saves usbecause it makes us cling to God, and so brings us into connection withhim. I have used the following illustration before, but I must repeat it,because I cannot think of a better. I am told that years ago above the Fallsof Niagara a boat was upset, and two men were being carried down thecurrent, when persons on the shore managed to float a rope out to them,which rope was seized by them both. One of them held fast to it and wassafely drawn to the bank; but the other, seeing a great log come floatingby, unwisely let go the rope and clung to the log, for it was the bigger thingof the two, and apparently better to cling to. Alas, the log with the man onit, went right over the vast abyss, because there was no union between thelog and the shore. The size of the log was no benefit to him who grasped it;it needed a connection with the shore to produce safety. So when a mantrusts to his works, or to sacraments, or to anything of that sort, he will notbe saved, because there is no junction between him and Christ; but faith,though it may seem to be like a slender cord, is in the hand of the greatGod on the shore side; infinite power pulls in the connecting line, and thusdraws the man from destruction. Oh, the blessedness of faith, because itunites us to God!
Faith is chosen, again, because it touches the springs of action. I wonderwhether I shall be wrong if I say that we never do anything except throughfaith of some sort. If I walk across this platform it is because I believe mylegs will carry me. A man eats because he believes in the necessity of food.Columbus discovered America because he believed that there was anothercontinent beyond the ocean: many another grand deed has also been bornof faith, for faith works wonders. Commoner things are done on the sameprinciple; faith in its natural form is an all-prevailing force. God givessalvation to our faith, because he has thus touched the secret spring of allour emotions and actions. He has, so to speak, taken possession of thebattery, and now he can send the sacred current to every part of ournature. When we believe in Christ, and the heart has come into thepossession of God, then are we saved from sin, and are moved towardsrepentance, holiness, zeal, prayer, consecration, and every other graciousthing.
Faith, again, has the power of working by love; it touches the secret springof the affections, and draws the heart towards God. Faith is an act of theunderstanding; but it also proceeds from the heart. With the heart manbelieveth unto righteousness and hence God gives salvation to faithbecause it resides next door to the affections, and is near akin to love, andlove, you know, is that which purifies the soul. Love to God is obedience,love is holiness; to love God and to love man is to be conformed to theimage of Christ, and this is salvation.
Moreover, faith creates peace and joy; he that hath it rests, and is tranquil,is glad, and joyous; and this is a preparation for heaven. God gives all theheavenly gifts to faith, because faith worketh in us the very life and spiritwhich are to be eternally manifested in the upper and better world. I havehastened over these points that I might not weary you on a day when,however willing the spirit may be, the flesh is weak.
III. We close with the third point: How CAN WE OBTAIN AND INCREASEOUR FAITH? A very earnest question this to many. They say they want tobelieve but cannot. A great deal of nonsense is talked upon this subject. Letus be practical in our dealing with it. What am I to do in order tobelieve? The shortest way is to believe, and if the Holy Spirit has madeyou honest and candid, you will believe as soon as the truth is set beforeyou. Anyhow, the gospel command is clear: Believe in the Lord JesusChrist, and thou shalt be saved.
But still, if you have a difficulty, take it before God in prayer. Tell the greatFather exactly what it is that puzzles you, and beg him by his Holy Spirit tosolve the question. If I cannot believe a statement in a book I am glad toenquire of the author what he meant, and if he is a true man his explanationwill satisfy me: much more will the divine explanation satisfy the heart ofthe true seeker. The Lord is willing to make himself known; go to him, andsee if it be not so.
Furthermore, if faith seem difficult, it is possible that God the Holy Spiritwill enable you to believe if you hear very frequently and earnestly thatwhich you are commanded to believe. We believe many things because wehave heard them so often. Do you hot find it so in common life, that if youhear a thing fifty times a day, at last you come to believe it? Some menhave come to believe that which is false by this process: I should notwonder but what God often blesses this method in working faithconcerning that which is true, for it is written, Faith cometh by hearing.If I earnestly and attentively hear the gospel, it may be that one of thesedays I shall find myself believing that which I hear, through the blessedoperation of the Spirit upon my mind.
If that, however, should seem poor advice, I would add next, consider thetestimony of others. The Samaritans believed because of what the womantold them concerning Jesus. Many of our beliefs arise out of the testimonyof others. I believe that there is such a country as Japan: I never saw it, andyet I believe that there is such a place because others have been there. Ibelieve I shall die: I have never died, but a great many have done so whomI once knew, and I have a conviction that I shall die also; the testimony ofmany convinces me of this fact. Listen, then, to those who tell you howthey were saved, how they were pardoned, how they have been changed incharacter: if you will but listen you will find that somebody just likeyourself has been saved. If you have been a thief, you will find that a thiefrejoiced to wash away his sin in the fountain of Christs blood. Yon thathave been unchaste in life, you will find that men who have fallen that wayhave been cleansed and changed. If you are in despair, you have only to getamong Gods people, and enquire a little, and some who have been equallyin despair with yourself will tell you how he saved them. As you listen toone after another of those who have tried the word of God, and proved it,the divine Spirit will lead you to believe. Have you not heard of the Africanwho was told by the missionary that water sometimes became so hard thata man could walk on it? He declared that he believed a great many thingsthe missionary had told him; but he never would believe that. When hecame to England it came to pass that one frosty day he saw the riverfrozen, but he would not venture on it. He knew that it was a river, and hewas certain that he would be drowned if be ventured upon it. He could notbe induced to walk the ice till his friend went upon it; then he waspersuaded, and trusted himself where others had ventured. So, mayhap,while you see others believe, and notice their joy and peace, you willyourself be gently led to believe. It is one of Gods ways of helping us tofaith.
A better plan still is this, note the authority upon which you arecommanded to believe, and this will greatly help you. The authority is notmine, or you might well reject it. It is not even the popes, or you mighteven reject that. But you are commanded to believe upon the authority ofGod himself. He bids you believe in Jesus Christ, and you must not refuseto obey your Maker. The foreman of a certain works in the north had oftenheard the gospel, but he was troubled with the fear that he might not cometo Christ. His good master one day sent a card round to the works Come to my house immediately after work. The foreman appeared at hismasters door, and the master came out, and said somewhat roughly,What do you want, John, troubling me at this time? Work is done, whatright have you here? Sir, said he, I had a card from you saying that Iwas to come after work. Do you mean to say that merely because youhad a card from me you are to come up to my house and call me out afterbusiness hours? Well, sir, replied the foreman, I do not understandyou, but it seems to me that, as you sent for me, I had a right to come.Come in, John, said his master, I have another message that I want toread to you, and he sat down and read these words Come unto me, allye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Do you thinkafter such a message from Christ that you can be wrong in going to him?The poor man saw it all at once, and believed, because he saw that he hadgood warrant and authority for believing. So have you, poor soul you havegood authority for coming to Christ, for the Lord himself bids you trusthim.
If that does not settle you, think over what it is that you have to believe, that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered in the room and place and stead of men,and is able to save all who trust him. Why, this is the most blessed fact thatever men were told to believe: the most suitable, the most comforting, themost divine truth that ever was set before men. I advise you to think muchupon it, and search out the grace and love which it contains. Study the fourEvangelists, study Pauls epistles, and then see if the message is not such acredible one that you are forced to believe it.
If that does not do, then think upon the person of Jesus Christ think ofwho he is and what he did, and where he is now, and what he is now; thinkoften and deeply. When he, even such an one as he, bids you trust him,surely then your heart will be persuaded. For how can you doubt him?If none of these things avail, then there is something wrong about youaltogether, and my last word is, submit yourself to God! May the Spirit ofGod take away your enmity and make you yield. You are a rebel, a proudrebel, and that is why you do not believe your God. Give up your rebellion;throw down your weapons; yield at discretion; surrender to your King. Ibelieve that never did a soul throw up its hands in self-despair, and cry,Lord, I yield, but what faith became easy to it before long. It is becauseyou still have a quarrel with God, and intend to have your own will andyour own way, that therefore you cannot believe. How can ye believe,said Christ, that have honor one of another? Proud self creates unbelief.Submit, O man. Yield to your God, and then shall you sweetly believe inyour Savior. God bless you, for Christs sake, and bring you at this verymoment to believe in the Lord Jesus. Amen.
NOTE. While revising this sermon I felt moved to ask my readers tocirculate it. I tried to be very simple, and I think I succeeded. If you, dearreader, think the sermon likely to show the way of salvation to thosearound you, will you not get extra copies and give them away? Thepreacher of the sermon and the giver of it will rejoice together if, by theirunited effort, men are led to faith in Jesus.
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