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must have real faith before we can encrease therein.
Now then it is natural to ask, What is faith? I answer, The substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. (a) But does repeating a few words, perhaps by an ungodly man, and throwing a little water in the face of a child make it a believer! Surely that faith is the gift of man, and not the gift of God. With this pitiful fancy many deceive themselves, cry.. ing, Peace, peace, when there is no peace; no peace with God, nor, properly speaking, with their own consciences. However, we know that we are justified by faith, and have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now where true faith is, there is true hope, and love, and every grace of the Spirit; and to strengthen this faith, the death of its divine' object is set fresh as evidently crucified, so that we “ take, and eat, in remembrance that Christ died for us, and we feed upon him by faith with thanksgiving.” 0, we need this sensible refreshment! Life is filled with many, very many, trials, sharp and strong, which are calculated to weigh down and depress the inner man, and sure to discourage the servants of God in their way to Zion; and therefore if we mean to keep our head above
(a) Heb. xi. 1.
water, there must be a constant looking to Jesus the author, till he becomes the finisher of our faith : the saints overcame the great red dragon by the blood of the Lamb; that is, by faith in that blood, and so must we; seeing we have the same red dragon to combat with.
HUMAN nature is frail, and stands in need of divine support; and if the soul is alive to God it needs that support, and where is that to be found but in Jesus? I am, says he, the bread of life; the bread which came down from heaven; he that eats of this bread shall live for ever. Here is the true nourishment of a never dying soul, by which it is strengthened in its warfare ; and this is what is particularly held out in the Lord's Supper.
5. THE eating of that bread, and drinking of that cup, is a token of our communion with Christ, and fellowship one with ano. ther. Herein is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, bond or free, but we are all one in Christ Jesus. The cup of bles. sing, which we bless, which we pray for a blessing upon, and for which we give thanks, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ. The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ? For we being many are one bread, and one body, for we are all partukers of that one bread. (a) For know ye not that your bodies
(a) 1 Cor. x. 16, 17.
are members of Christ. He that is joined, to the Lord is one spirit. Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular. (a) " THE visible church on earth is an organized body, in which every pillar, or officer, hath its appointed place, as also every stone or member; and care is to be taken that every member, and every officer be fit for their place. As St. Peter says, Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ-But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (b)
THE nineteenth article is a very proper definition of the church of Christ, and a very clear proof that the church of England, as a body, is not the church of Christ. Take special notice of the words, “ The visible church of Christ, is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity belong to the same.” Now I ask any sen
sible, candid man, who has read his bible, . and a little of church history, and thought
thereon, Is this the case with the established church? Where is that particular assembly of them ? what parish church throughout the kingdom, where the communicants are a congregation of faithful men and where the pure word of God is preached, and where the sacraments are duly ministered, according to Christ's ordi. nance? Is that minister a faithful man, that is, one that has faith in Christ, and faithful in his duty, who will hunt, play at cards, go to plays, horse races, balls, and assemblies; who is a pot companion with the men of the world? I think few will say he is. Then here is a flaw in the chief pillar. Surely this unfaithful shepherd will have an unfaithful flock. The old adage will be verified, Like people, like priest. (a) Or can we think those faithful men who gó to the Lord's table purely to be qualified for a place in the revenue, or a commission in the army, or some other honourable or lucrative office? Or such as can curse and swear, or accompany their compliant vicar or curate in their scenes of folly ? Or can we say the gospel is purely preached where Christ is scarcely named; but where a phantom, called reason, is put in the place of Christ, faith or the new birth ?
WILL you call that the gospel which frequently ridicules experimental religion
under odious names, such as enthusiasm, fanaticism, insanity and the like? Has not this christless preaching well nigh made most of those structures called churches heathen temples ? Where does our Lord authorize such men to preach such doctrine ? Nay, does he not forbid them? (Psalm 1. 16. Does he not say, I sent them not nor commanded them, therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord. (a) Can there be any communion with either people or preacher of this stamp? What communion hath light with darkness, or he that believeth with an infidel? With such the apostle says, no, not eat. (b)
But there is a communion, a divine fellowship, with the children of God, begotten of the same Father, and born of the same Spirit, bearing the same yoke, and fighting against the same enemies, enlisted under the same banner, and travelling to the same country; and all living upon the same bread of life, that bread which came down from heaven, the flesh of the Son of Man which is meat indeed, and that blood which is drink indeed, being all partakers of that one bread of which this sacred ordinance is a sacred emblem.
HEREIN they can set their amen to that solemn prayer, “ that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee;
(a) Jer. xxiij. 32.
(b) 1 Cor. v. 11.