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Himself to help our unbelief, except we will act upon such a measure of faith and knowledge of truth as we already possess; and, as faith produces good living as its fruit, so good living strengthens faith, as well as proves the being of it in the soul.
But this brings me to the other point. Look at Noah, and copy him, that ye may not deceive yourselves with a counterfeit. Prove your own selves; examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith. It was with Noah, as St. James tells us it was afterwards with Abraham. "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect??" "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also "." Show that you have the reward of the righteous and the perdition of ungodly men every day before the eyes of your mind, though neither is seen as yet, by every day doing what will have some likeness to Noah's daily labours to construct the ark; I mean plainly, Flee for refuge to Jesus Christ, and quarrel with none of God's methods of saving you by Him. Every day of your lives come to God in his name by prayer, feed upon Him in your hearts by faith. with thanksgiving at every opportunity in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper: search for Him in the Scriptures, which testify of Him; and walk as if you were always actually transacting business with God, through his intervention and intercession, for the saving of your souls. Remember besides what salvation is, and what are the promises. Not simply that you shall be saved from the penalties of sin, but that you shall be saved from sin itself; not simply that you may look through Christ for new heavens and a new earth, but that you may look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, and that, seeing ye do look for such things, ye must be diligent that ye may be found of your Lord in peace, without spot, and blameless. This is part and parcel of the Divine record, touching the grace of God which hath appeared
7 James ii. 22.
8 Ver. 26.
9 2 Pet. iii. 14.
unto all men to bring salvation; and there must be no rending asunder of what God hath joined. Say not then that you have set your affections on things above, and expect not that when Christ shall appear ye shall appear with Him in glory, unless you obey such precepts as these which follow: "Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry10." And "put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another. Put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness'." All this is included in the short account given of Noah, that "he walked with God." And Christ says, "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" For in Him nothing availeth, or will be accepted as true faith uniting us to Him, but that "faith which worketh by love "."
To conclude; the behaviour of the men of Noah's day shows you what are the hindrances which prevent our having faith. They knew not till the flood came and took them all away; but it was not because the revelation was not clear, or because they had not opportunities sufficient for them as well as Noah, but their hearts were wholly taken up, our Lord tells us, with worldly things. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon 1." 4 It is vain to talk to men of judgment to come, whilst their hearts are full of the world; it is sowing seed among the thorns. Men will not come unto Christ that they might have life, because the full soul loatheth an honeycomb, be
10 Col. iii. 5.
1 Ver. 8, 9. 12—14.
2 Luke vi. 46. Matt. vi. 24.
cause they are careful and troubled about other things. Whether it be that they are engaged with enjoying or with coveting them, or with complaining of the want of them, it is the same thing. Faith cannot enter. strong man armed keepeth his palace in their hearts, and his goods are in peace. It is to no purpose that he that preaches fills his mouth with arguments; there is no admittance for them; and if any say, Show me more cause why I should believe, and then I will believe; his case is just that of the rich man's brethren, who heard not Moses and the Prophets, and would have been no better persuaded though one had risen from the dead to testify to them. As godly living both proves faith and helps it, worldly living both proves unbelief and confirms it. If faith is necessary, therefore, so is holiness; and to which soever of them we would bring men, the other must be inculcated. Ye then that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, walking from henceforth in his holy way, but no other; ye may draw nigh to God in faith; and, being justified by faith, ye shall have peace with Him, through Jesus Christ our Lord, and be made actual inheritors of the righteousness which is by faith, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein He shall make you accepted in his Beloved.
LOT'S DELIVERANCE OUT OF SODOM.
GEN. xix. 16, 17.
"And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
"And it came to pass, when they had brought him forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed."
It is written, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil 1." In that there can be no security. But who is he that shall harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? In a holy singularity, in the midst of a perverse generation, our security is complete. For while "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," He " pre"serveth the souls of his saints 3." Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered "."
These important truths are most strikingly illustrated by the awful narrative contained in this chapter.
1. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of the rest of the cities of the plain, were sinners before the
1 Exod. xxiii. 2.
3 Ps. xcvii. 10.
2 Rom. i. 18. 4 Prov. xi. 21.
Lord exceedingly; "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness" (as the Prophet Ezekiel tells us), had so corrupted them, that God saw good to take them away by an exemplary vengeance, as having filled up the measure of their crimes. Nevertheless, the Lord would justify Himself in his dealings with them, and He has accordingly taken care to bring to light, and to record the enormity and the universal prevalence of wickedness amongst them. The Lord said to Abraham, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know "." This is spoken after the manner of men, in accommodation to the weakness of our capacities, not as though God did not see at once into the very hearts of all his people; for our secret sins are in the light of his countenance, and He knoweth our thoughts long before; but this form of speech is used to let us see the equity of the Almighty Judge. He does not sentence except upon evidence, and every mouth, therefore, shall be stopped when He pronounces his award. Abraham, upon hearing of the danger of these wicked people, like a charitable and pious man, humbly interceded with God on their behalf, and besought Him, first, that if fifty, and, at last, that if but ten righteous persons should be found in Sodom, He would be pleased to spare the city for their sakes. The Lord answered graciously, "I will not destroy it for ten's sake." Ten righteous persons, however, could not be found there, and therefore the decree of vengeance might not be reversed. But God's conversation with the father of the faithful is left upon record for our instruction; and it teaches us, first, with what adorable condescension Jehovah is pleased to attend to the fervent prayer of a true believer: secondly, how justly good and pious men are called "the salt of the earth," by which it is preserved from corruption and perdition,
5 Ezek. xvi. 49.
• Gen. xviii. 20, 21.
7 Ver. 32.