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It is very probable, that the precept in the law, forbidding the removal of a neighbour's land-mark, marked out by the antients, with the curse attending the violation of it, has a further and more important sense than that of the mere letter, as well as the other injunctions revealed to Moses. If the man be accursed, who removes the boundary of estates among men; what shall become of him, who strives to displace the Lord's land-mark; or, in other words, to unfix eternal truths, to disguise them by sophistry or false principles, or to remove the confidence of his people's faith relative to their places and privileges in the great inheritance?
If then I am Jehovah's portion and his peculiar heritage, as he is graciously pleased to call me and to make me (the believer may say,) I am safe in his protection, and can never be lost. I may plead this title before him, for he has named me by it. And he can neither lie, nor change. The world may and shall be dissolved; but he himself assures me, that his word shall not pass away. In his faithfulness is all my security. Here I ground my hope; and I know, from the instruction of his word and by the experience of his grace, that it is a good hope, which will never make me ashamed, but bring me to that blessed and happy end for which I am waiting.
Ahab and Jezebel had so corrupted the country, that the Elders and Nobles, presiding over a city, were become the willing and wicked tools of an abandoned and bloody woman, and both hired people to be perjured, and acted themselves as parties in taking away the life of a good and innocent man. What a complication of sin was here! Covetousness, falshood, perjury, subornation, judgement deliberately false, and execution knowingly murderous, all carried on with pretended zeal for religion and loyalty!
O what a comfort is this in all my adversities, and sickness, and sorrow! The Lord, even my Lord, gave it forth for that purpose; so that, throughout my weary pilgrimage, in him I might have peace, and be sure of that refreshment to my spirit, which from its native weakness and continual warfare it cannot but need. And this support turns to me for a testimony, that as I am the Lord's portion and inheritance, so he is mine. O wonderful mercy, that Jehovah of Hosts, whom all creatures serve, and to whom the universe of nature belongs, should be mine, should call himself mine, should make me feel the heavenly truth, should open to me the greatness of the privilege, and make me taste the sweetness of the bounty! He is also my portion FOR EVER! PS. lxxiii. 26. The eternity of the gift consummates the blessing. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who whirleth the heavens for thy help, and for his own majesty the powers of the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee, and shall say, destroy.-Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by Jehovah, the shield of thy help, and the sword of thy excellency!
THIS name, applied to believers in the scriptures, doth
not so much point out that faithfulness or fidelity which arises from the integrity of their minds, as that faith or dependence upon God, which, first and above all things, distinguishes them from other men. They are, it is true, and must be, persons of principle and uprightness; but this in them is an effect of their faith, and by no means either faith itself, or the cause of it.
- Faith relates to truth, and, in the holy tongue, is by some held to be of the same root: certainly, it hath a very near affinity to it. The Lord places his truth for a foundation, and then he impowers his people to understand and to rest upon it by faith or believing. * Or, if
*To the same purpose is the word επισημων used by St. James iii. 13. which is rendered endued with knowledge. As true faith proceeds from an understanding which is true, and with it is the gift of the Holy Spirit; so it stands or rests upon the truth of God, which is its only proper foundation. Hence επίσημη, science (according to the philologers) has its name from bringing us ( çao) to a stop or resting-place, founded upon the reality and certainty of the things known. See an ingenious etymology of this word, and of the words scientia and understanding, in HARRIS'S Hermes, p. 369, 2d. edit. The word επιζήμων, in the above text of St. James, implies, one possessing the knowledge of the truth, and, from thorough experience of its power and reality stedfastly by faith resting and grounding himself upon it. Hesychius renders Tanpopopia, by which term the apostle means the full gale, or assurance, of faith, by Beasorna, firmness, or stability. HEYSCH. apud WITS. in symb. p. 28.
we take the word to signify, to carry, to bear in arms, as a nurse bears a child; it amounts to much the same. The Lord ever bare his people, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way they go, and puts underneath them his everlasting arms. Our English terms are not always happy in the communication of these ideas. The words believing and faithful are sometimes applied, and even in our translation of the scriptures, to a sense different from that of the original; and, in some places, the word, which should give the idea of faith, is applied to something else, as in Ps. lxxviii. 8 and 37. where it is said of the Jews, that their spirit was not stedfast with God, and that they were not stedfast in his covenant; the words are, that their spirit was not faithful, or had no faith in God, and that they were not believing, or had not faith, in his covenant; agreeably to a more antient censure from God by Moses, that they were a froward generation, children in whom was no faith.
This word faithful is one of the highest titles of the children of God; because the grace, which is denoted by it, enables them to give the most glory to the divine attributes and perfections, and to derive most for themselves from the divine fulness. The world or worldly men have but a poor opinion of this principle, or rather no true idea of it; and hence they either scoff at it as a low, simple, inenergetic, assent of mind, or a dangerous notion, which threatens to exterminate all the little goodness, which is left in the world. The reason of this is, because they have never known the conflicts of the soul, which the law of God, in the power of his Spirit,
* Deut. xxxii. 2,
vehemently brings for the conviction of sin, or to show man his unrighteousness; and therefore being heartwhole, and ignorant of their own apostate nature and depravity, they suppose, that they can easily give credit to God, in the same way as they do to one another, and that they can act faith and do all sorts of faithful works, by their own natural powers so as to please him.
But faith in God through Christ (for true faith proceeds in no other way) is the sublimest and most difficult business in the world. It is indeed the greatest work upon earth of God's Spirit in the soul of man. When a poor creature hath his eyes opened to see the wrath of God hanging over him, on account of a wicked nature as well as a wicked life, and is convinced that he hath no power to extricate himself from the deep distress which overwhelms him; then, for him to cast himself fully and absolutely upon the truth of God, which hath set forth Christ as his propitiation, and to ground himself for eternity upon this, amidst the clamors of his own conscience, or the just accusations of the law, in the view of justice inseparable from the law, and in the face (as it were) of hell thirsting and opening its mouth to swallow him up; this is a work, this is an effect, which (as he afterwards will own) nothing less than the omnipotent operation of God could perform in him; nothing short of the free mercy him. and gift of an Almighty Saviour could bestow upon And, in doing this great work, through grace, (for God worketh in him to believe; not believes in him, as the papists, &c. object) he really gives God the highest glory, that can possibly be given him upon earth. For this is