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dering of the church, and a miserable oppression of the people, soon followed. But, through the mercy of God, we were not given up: our mistakes did not terminate in atheism: and may the same Divine grace still dispose us to take proper warning, and make a wise use of the example now before our eyes; that we may every day be farther from the danger, and safer from the infection, of apostacy: that the church, which God hath promised to preserve to the end of the world, may be preserved here; and that the little faith he shall find at his coming, may be found with us.
WHEN THE SON OF MAN COMETH, SHALL HE FIND
FAITH ON THE EARTH? LUKE XVIII. 8.
W HEN the Son of man dwelt among us,
faith was the first thing he looked for in those with whom he conversed: and if it was not found, his mission, to such persons, was without effect. At his second coming, he will be looking for the same; but the text gives us little hope that he will find it. The words do not positively assert, that no faith shall then be left, but that the finding of it shall be questionable: it shall be so far lost, that the instances in which it is found shall be few and rare. With this the words of St. Paul agree; who teaches us, that in the last
days perilous times shall come, 2 Tim. iii. 1; that the truth should be resisted by men, as Moses was resisted by the perverse unbelieving magicians of Egypt, Jannes and Jambres, and that they should become, as those men were, reprobate concerning the faith, ver. 8. This character of the last age of the world falls in with another equally remarkable; I mean the appearance of the man of sin : though it may well be suspected, that both these characters of the time are reducible to one: for the man of sin arises out of the Christian faith, and raises himself upon the ruins of it; as the worm that destroys the fruit, is bred within · it. That the depravity foretold in the Scripture, is the depravity of Christians, there can be no doubt; the prediction concerning it being thus worded—the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, &c: 1 Tiin. iv. 1. The corruption, therefore, foretold, is a departure from the faith; and in that we may expect to see something much worse than the corruption of uninformed savage nature. An apostate from truth adds perfidy to his wickedness : he is in darkness, because he has put out the light; and can offend with that
blasphemny against heaven, which is not in the power of an ignorant unbeliever..
It is not my design, however, to display his wickedness, but rather to shew how truly the text has pointed out the root and cause of it in a single word; in order to which it must first be shewed what Faith is, and what place it holds in the Christian religion. Of this it is so considerable a part, and so essential to all the rest, that it is frequently put for the whole: for what does the Apostle mean by departing from the faith, but departing from Christianity? and where he speaks of the word of faith, what does he intend, but the preaching of the whole Gospel ? and the Gospel is called the word of faith, because faith only can receive what it delivers. The invisible things of God and of a spiritual world must be told to us ; for we can neither see them nor know them: and faith receives the testimony on which they are revealed. Things invisible can have no evidence. but that of the faith which believes them: and if the witness of them be from God, then is God the object of our faith ; and if we live and act in consequence of that faith, then our works are wrought in God; and they are acYOL. VI.
? . cepted,
cepted, not for what is done, but for the faith with which it is done. He that does · not receive the witness of God, makes God a liar; and of such a person it will ever be true, that his works, however specious they may appeax, will be the works of opposition and pride, and have the nature of sia. “As a branch cannot bear grapes, unless it abide in the vine, John xv. 4. no good work can be produced but in the life and faith of the Gospel. In all the works of faith, God is the immediate object: in all other works he has no share, and he hath promised no reward. He owes no man any thing; but he accepts and rewards every thing in those that believe in, and diligently seek him. Heb. xi. 6. He called Abraham from his country, and from his kindred, and from his father's house, Gen. xii. 1. and he went out, not knowing whither he went, Heb. xi. 8. but readily obeying such commands, as he could not thoroughly comprehend; he believed God, and it was imputed to him or accounted for righteousness, and he is proposed as a pattern to all believers. There is, strictly speaking, no such thing as righteousness in the world (there is none
righteous no not one, Rom. x. 3.) but the act **** of faith is accounted for it, because it shews a