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“straightway the spirit tare him, and he fell on the ground, and wallowed.” And his father spake unto the disciples that they should heal him; and they could not. —And what power, less than that of Christ himself, shall heal him who has returned to wallow in the uncleanness of sin, from which the blood of Christ had once washed him ?—Who shall deliver him from this body of death, save He who hath promised his spirit to all who call upon him faithfully-a grace sufficient, in spite of their weakness, to raise them “ from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness.”

“ All things” then" are possible to him that believeth.”—The irregularities of the temper—the sorrows of the heart—the sinful lusts and appetites of the fleshmay all be moderated, and brought into subjection by those who have faith—and who apply in faith, the provisions and principles of the Gospel to their own condition and circumstances. Is there any one among us, who does not feel inclined to exclaim, "Lord, I believe ; help thou mine unbelief?”—Is there any one who would not hasten to avow his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to pray that that faith may be increased ?

Perhaps there is no individual in the whole Christian community, who cannot enter into the feelings expressed in the words of the text. —A very little reflection is sufficient to explain to us the value of the privileges and immunities which the Gospel is capable of conveying to those who will receive it.-- These incline us, and further the evidence in its favour warrants us, in exclaiming, “ Lord, I believe.”—But, though the understanding be convinced, and the heart, perhaps, inclined to coincide, there are still impediments to be overcome, and our faith is not so effectual for good to us, as it might be, and ought to be.—The temper is not always as equable as we could wish --our hearts will sometimes sink within us, and the flesh so lusteth against the spirit, that we cannot always do the things that we would.—And then we cry to God with all the sincerity, and with

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all the emotion of the parent in the text, “O Lord, help thou mine unbelief."Grant me the assistance of thy Holy Spirit, that I may be enabled to remove those lets and hindrances which prevent my receiving thy word in all the fulness of its “breadth and depth.”

To a mind oppressed thus by a painful sense of “its imperfect devotion” to the Saviour, some encouragement may be derived from a review of the passage before us.—Are your hearts disquieted, my brethren, because you have not been able to achieve all the victories which are promised to faith ?-And have you, on this account, your doubts, and misgivings, your fears and tremblings, as to the great question, whether or no you believe aright ?-Observe.—The faith of the very best men, of the inen who have enjoyed the greatest advantages, has been subject to similar imperfection. “ O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you-how long shall I suffer you '?”—To whom were these words

1 Mark ix. 19.

1

addressed ?-Not to the

the unbelieving Scribes--not to the half-convinced multitude—but to his own chosen followers, to those who had shown their sincerity by leaving all that they possessed for his sake-fathers, and mothers, and houses, and lands, and sisters, and brethren—to men, who had been always with him, had seen all his works, had heard all his instruction, had marked his heavenly example constantly before their eyes,-even these were the men who could not cast out the unclean spirit because of their unbelief.-Nor was this the only occasion on which their faith failed them.—Nevertheless, it was sufficiently real, it was never utterly cast down, but bore them subsequently through many a bitter trial, many a cruel persecution, till it enabled them at length to finish a life of toil and suffering, by a death of triumphant martyrdom.

Surely we may infer from this that the perfectness of our faith is not the point so much to be insisted on, as its sincerity. The belief of the man who speaks in the

text was imperfect. — The very words that he uses avow that it was so.--Yet Jesus does not even notice this circumstance, but immediately he rebukes the foul spirit, saying unto him,

66 Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him." --And this was done, because the same words which confessed the imperfection of the supplicant's faith, proved the sincerity of it,—and his earnest desire to render it more complete.—“Lord, I believe-help thou mine unbelief.”

Here lies the important lesson for us, my brethren.—If I would endeavour to show, that God does not demand from us that which we cannot render-viz. a perfect faith, or a perfect service; it is not that I would encourage any one to rest satisfied at that point in his progress to which he may at this moment have attained—it is not that I would afford him a plea by which to quiet his conscience whenever it may be disposed to accuse him for his manifold defects--(the faith that can become thus inactive and

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