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SERMON XVIII.

A Characteristic of True Faith.

ISAI AII XXVIII. 16.

HE THAT BELIEVETI SHALL NOT MAKE HASTE.

It is a common remark, that the inspired volume exceeds all others in the brevity and comprehensiveness of its language. With inimitable clearness, it often indicates by a single word or phrase, qualities and traits of character, which uninspired men describe by a laborious accumulation of epithets. Many of the virtues which are deemed estimable among men, being often included in some one religious or moral quality, have their nature and tendency luminously portrayed by the pen of inspiration in only a brief clause. "Men of great learning and acuteness have written ably on decision, consistency, and stability of character. But while they have abundantly shown its importance, their efforts, though swollen into volumes, have almost entirely failed to disclose the source or cause of this most desirable quality. The bible, however, points directly to this source. It developes at once what alone can give consistency to the human character. It shows us, in a word, its true spring and essence.

It informs us, that faith in Christ is the grand secret of genuine decision, or fixedness of character in man. HE THAT BELIEVETH, SHALL NOT MAKE HASTE.

These words were addressed by the prophet to a class of individuals, who in the stubbornness of a rebellious spirit, were determined to escape from all the restraints of piety, and who with finished presumption were using such language as this : We have made a corenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement —when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto usfor we hare made lies our refuge, and under falsehood hare we hid ourselves. Assured as he was, that, notwithstanding their boasted covenant and agreement with death and hell, they were not at ease, but were still the subjects of fear and alarm; and in their refuge of lies, were conscious of insecurity, the devout Isaiah announced to them, in the language of the Most High, that there was an antidote for their fears, a refuge from peril—a place where they might be safe, when the overwhelming scourge should pass through. Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone-a sure foundationhe that BELIEVETH, shall not make haste. He that confides in this, makes this his refuge, and is built on this sure foundation, shall not be agitated, dismayed, and thrown into confusion, when dangers threaten—shall not be driven to false refuges, when troubles come; but shall feel a sacred consciousness of safety from the one, and of quiet repose amidst the other.

Such is the connexion, and obvious sentiment of the text. Christians in the exercise of true faith shall not make haste. Their steps are not only safe, but uniform. Their progress is at once secure and steady. It is not the fitful flash of the meteor, but the steady warm glow of the morning light, shining more and more unto the perfect day. In all the varied circumstances in which they are placed-in whatever posture they are called to act, christians, swayed by a lively faith, will evince its operation by a uniform, a decided, and consistent character.

1. They will thus show the influence of their faith in time of danger. Believers have no security against the approach of dangers. Indeed, they are exposed to a more numerous array, than an apostle thought proper to enumerate. Their very character renders them obnoxious to many, and those too of no ordinary magnitude, of which the unbelieving multitude are entirely unconscious. Every step in their progress is thronged with hosts of spiritual enemies. In many of the objects which minister to their innooent gratification and delight, lie often concealed their deadliest foes. Amidst scenes of refined and rational enjoyment, dangers of threatening aspect are constantly springing up. But the shield of faith is their protection.

66 What time they are afraid they trust in God.” And because they believe, when dangers thicken along their path, they are neither thrown into an attitude of haste and alarm, nor driven into precipitate defence. Because cordially resting on the sure foundation, they find themselves on safe ground—none of these things move them. The psalmist has expressed the feelings of all believers in seasons of peril. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid ? Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fearthough war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

Whether the danger threatens their own personal well being, or the interests of religion in the world, they pursue the same steady and consistent course. Having an undoubting persuasion that all things will work together for the good of such as love God, and that no weapon formed against his church shall prosper, they hasten not to adopt their own counsels, nor are they hurried into any questionable expedients; but calmly wait the counsel and direction of God. They are as far from being induced, through unbelief and impatience, to look only on existing appearances, and to consult

present interests and convenience, as they are from choosing, like the scoffers in the days of the prophet, to make a league with death and hell, rather than to depend on the promises of the Most High. With what they have learnt of the support and protection of their Divine Master, they do not suddenly despair of continuing to realize his sustaining and protecting agency. Knowing the blessed security of confiding in Him who is placed in Zion for a foundation, they cannot with the rash presumption of the unbelieving, abandon this “firm footing"—this “solid rock.” All their experience forbids them to precipitate themselves from the sole ark of safety, amidst the billows of doubt and uncertainty. And what can greatly disturb, terrify, or urge to run with a ruinous impetuosity to a false refuge, the soul that is, and feels itself, shielded by Omnipotence? Let all that is appalling in danger gather about the path of that believer who is built on Christ--who is planted on this Rock of ages. It may send a momentary thrill of terror through his mind, but it will rather serve to fasten him more unalterably to the ground of his confidence, than to tear him from it. It will lead him to say-it has already led him to say, not in the spirit of vain boasting, but of humble faith,

- Let worlds conspire to drive me thence,

Moveless and firm this heart shall lie,
Resolved (for that's my last defence)

If I must perish, there to die.
But speak, my Lord, and calm my fear ;

Am I not safe beneath thy shade ?
Vengeance can never strike me here,

Nor Satan dare my soul invade. II. Believers in Christ will show the steady influence of their faith in SEASONS OF AFFLICTION. Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. Afflictions, in some of the various forms of sickness, bereavement, losses, and disappointments, are the common lot of all. The children of God, so far from being exempted from the accidents of sinful humanity, share them in unusual measure, both in number, and severity. Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. But believers, when

woes cluster,” do not make haste to run to broken cisterns for relief. These they have already tried, and proved to be empty and worthless. As affliction comes not forth from the dust, and trouble springs not out of the ground, so nothing which earth affords can essentially vary the character, or mitigate the severity of such visitations. No medicine which the resources of nature or art furnish, can reach the disease of the soul, or heal a wounded spirit. The world has no power to cure the anguish inflicted by Jehovah's hand. This his believing people know. And knowing this, when suffering under the chastisement of his rod, they instinctively fly to him. Without being driven about, agitated and distracted like those who have no refuge, no hidingplace to enter, their course is direct to him. Their reason, their tastes, their desires, suggest no other refuge The ungodly, when calamities befall then, yield to their violence, either with an appearance of broken heartedness, or of stern resistance; and then, as soon as conscience or regard to character will permit, hasten away to mingle in the scenes of their accustomed pursuits, and to lose among the gay, the worldly, and the thoughtless, the solemn impressions which the hand of God's afflictive providence may have made. But while the unbelieving multitude, under the pressure of affilictions, hurry from one fancied source of consolation to another, and find them all“ miserable comforters,” they who are so grounded and settled in the faith as not to be moved from the hope of the gospel, being still and knowing that it is God, find even amidst the outward frowns of their heavenly Father, light, and peace, and joy from his presence, filling their souls. While in the posture of still, quiet, submissive, and uncomplaining suffering, they hear the rod and him who hath appointed it, they feel

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