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heart. And this faith is not without hope and trust in God, nor without the love of God and of our neighbours, nor without the fear of God, nor without the desire to hear God's word, and to follow the same in eschewing evil and gladly doing all good works. This faith (as St. Paul describeth it) is the sure ground and foundation of the benefits which we ought to look for and trust to receive of God—a certificate and sure looking for them, although they yet sensibly appear not unto us; and afterHe saith, He that cometh to God, must believe both that He is, and that He is a merciful rewarder of well-doers. And nothing commendeth good men unto God so much as this assured faith and trust in him."'*
As the “ church and household” of God, in its aggregate capacity, needs the continual defence of God's "mighty power," so also does every one of those who - sean on the hope of His heavenly
grace.” Indeed, the description which our collect has given of the faithful implies their own helplessness and exposure to injury, and their dependence on Divine protection; for it is not only for justification before God that they “ lean on the hope of his grace,” but also for daily, hourly, and momentary protection from innumerable dangers by which they are surrounded on every side, and which are not only without but within them. The body of man, in its present fallen state, is not only liable to external accidents without, which may prematurely extinguish the feeble spark of animal life, but there is within itself a tendency to death, the procrastination of which requires the constant aid of food and medicine. And in like manner the
* The first part of the Homily of Faith,
spiritual life, which by regeneration is kindled in the fallen soul, is not only threatened by the world and the devil, but it would expire of itself, through the pressure of the flesh, the soul's innate corruption, were it not maintained by the
mighty power” which at first inspired it. “ Our life is hid with Christ in God.” It is by His "mighty power” that it is “defended” from external accidents, which would be fatal to it; and it is by continual communications from Him that it is fed and increased, till it hath gained the complete victory over all the diseases which menaced its destruction, and is placed out of the reach of those malign influences which now impede its growth.
That defence which the Christian believer needs, is promised in the word of God, and provided for in the covenant of grace. Those who, “ according to God's abundant mercy,” are “ be
gotten again to a lively hope by the resur“ rection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an “ inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and “that fadeth not away, are kept by the power “ of God, through faith, unto salvation, ready “ to be revealed in the last time.” They who are thus defended, are safe indeed. “No weapon “ that is formed against them, can prosper; and
every tongue that shall rise against them in “judgment, they shall condemn. This is the “ heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their “ righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” They have all the hosts of earth and hell combined for their destruction ; but “greater is He that “is for them than all who are against them."Futile were all the efforts of Pharaoh, because the Lord fought for Israel.
« The word”* which St. Peter has used in the passage cited above, 1 Eph. i. 5, and which is translated “ kept," is (as Archbishop Leighton has observed) “a military term, used for those who are kept as in a fort or garrison-town besieged. So Satan is still raising batteries against this fort, using all ways to take it, by strength or stratagem—unwearied in his assaults, and very skilful to know his advantages, and where we are weakest there to set on. And besides all this, he hath intelligence with a party within us, ready to betray us to him ; so that it were impossible for us to hold out, were there not another watch and guard than our own, and other walls and and bulwarks than any that our own skill and industry can raise for our own defence,
In this, then, is our safety, that there is a power above our own, yea, and above all our enemies, that guards us“ Salvation” itself, our " walls and “ bulwarks.” We ought to watch ; but when we do, in obedience to our commander, the Captain of our salvation, yet it is His own watching, who
sleeps not,” nor so much as "slumbers," that preserves us, and makes ours not to be in vain. Ps. cxxvi. 1. Is. xxvii. 3. And therefore those two are jointly commanded, " “ that ye enter not into temptation.” “Watch ?" there is the necessity of our diligence; “Pray !" there is the insufficiency of it, and the necessity of His watchfulness, by whose power we are effectually preserved. Is. xxvi. 1. « Salvation hath “ God appointed for walls and bulwarks.” What more safe, than to be walled with “ Salvation” itself ? So Prov. xviii. 10. « The name of the
* φρερεμενοι. .
" Lord is a strong tower : the righteous fly into " it and are safe."
In the use of our collect we employ the proper means of self-defence, of which “ The causes are two : 1. Supreme, the power of God. 2. Subordinate, faith, exerting itself by prayer.The supreme power of God is that on which depends our stability and perseverance. When we consider how weak we are in ourselves, yea, the very strongest among us, and how assaulted, we wonder, and justly we may, that any can continue one day in a state of grace. But when we look on the strength by which we are guarded, the “ mighty power” of God; then we see the reason of stability to the end. For Omnipotence supports us, and the everlasting arms are under
“ Faith,” exerting itself by prayer, “is the “ second cause” of our preservation; because it applies the first cause, the “mighty power of “ God.” Our faith lays hold upon
power, and this power strengthens faith, and so we are preserved : it puts us within those walls, and sets the soul within the guard of the power of God; which by self-confidence, and vain presumption in its own strength, is exposed to all kind of danger. Faith is a humble self-denying grace-makes the Christian nothing in himself, and all in God.”
« The weakest persons that are within a strong place, women and children, though they were not able to resist the enemy if they were alone, yet so long as the place wherein they are is of sufficient strength and well manned, and every way accommodated to hold out, they are in safety. Thus the weakest believer is safe, because by believing he is within the strongest of all defences. Faith is the victory, and Christ sets His strength against Satan's; and when the Christian is hard beset with some temptation too strong for himself, then he looks up to Him that is the great conqueror of the powers of darkness, and calls to Him, “ Now, Lord, assist thy “ servant in this encounter, and put to thy “ strength, that the glory may be thine.” Or he addresses the throne of grace in the excellent words of our collect, “ Grant, Lord, that I, “s who lean only on the hope of thy heavenly
grace, may now and evermore be defended
by thy mighty power.” Thus faith is such an engine as draws the power of God and of His Son Jesus Christ into the works and conflicts which it hath in hand.” This is our victory, even our faith.”
1 John v. 4. “ It is the property of a good Christian to magnify the power of God, and to have high thoughts of it; and therefore it is his privilege to find safety in that power. David cannot satisfy himself with one or two expressions of it, but delights in multiplying them. Ps. xviii. 9. “ The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress, and
my Deliverer—my God, my Strength, in whom “ I will trust—my Buckler, and the Horn of my
salvation, and my high Tower.” Faith looks above all, both that which the soul hath, and that which it wants; and answers all doubts and fears with this almighty power, upon which it
The excellence of the foregoing citation, and its suitableness to our purpose, will sufficiently apologize for its length. If it be the means of
* Archbp. Leighton on the 1 Ep. of Peter. chap. i. ver. 3.