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what it asks. We should say with the afflicted father in St. Mark, “ Lord, I be" lieve, help thou mine unbeliefu.” or with the apostles, “ Lord, increase our “ faith."
Being thus, by the aid of the Spirit of God, grounded and established in the faith; and shewing our faith to be real and active, by the effects which it produces upon our temper and conduct; we shall at length, through the merits and death of Christ, s receive the end of our faith, even the sal“ vation of our souls,” shall be admitted into that abode of blessedness, where faith shall be terminated in sight, and hope in never-ending enjoyment.
• Mark ix. 24.
* Luke xvii. 5.
! 1 Pet. i. 9.
BELIEF IN GOD THE FATHER.
Titus i. 16. They profess that they know God, but in works
they deny him. HAVING discoursed to you upon the necessity of faith in general, and upon some of its properties, some of the marks by which we may be enabled to judge, whether it exists in us in reality or only in pretence; I now wish to direct your attention more particularly to the great article of faith, BELIEF IN GOD; and to the practical effects, which such belief ought to produce on our conduct.
Belief in God, is the first principle, the foundation, of all religion. “He that cometh " to God must first believe that he is.”
Whether the idea of a God is implanted
in the mind of man by his Creator; or whether, as is more probable, it has been handed down from the first parents of the human race, and by them communicated to all their descendants,—there is hardly any nation upon the face of the earth, which has not some notion of a Supreme Being, to whom prayer and praise are to be addressed. Where the idea has once been entertained, it gains support among all men of thought and reflection, from the contemplation of the works of nature and providence. Thus the apostle argues, that among the nations - God left not himself “ without witness, giving them rain and “ fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with « joy and gladness.” And thus the Psalmist, “ the heavens declare the glory “ of God, and the firmament sheweth his
handy work: their sound is gone out “ into all lands, and their words unto the 66 end of the world.” This latter passage is expressly applied to our present purpose by St. Paul, when, speaking of the corruption and consequent condemnation of the heathens, he says, that “ the invisible “things of God, even his eternal power and “godhead, are clearly seen by the things that “are maded.” This argument is of a plain and convincing nature. When we consider any piece of workmanship, as, for instance, a house, or a watch, we are satisfied that it must have had some maker: and in proportion as the several parts, of which such piece of workmanship consists, appear to be well contrived and fitted to answer the purposes, for which they are designed, is our opinion of the maker's ability and skill. And thus, when we contemplate either the fair frame of the universe, or any of the objects of nature around us, we feel convinced that they must have had a Creator, " that their builder and maker is God :" and both the vastness of some of his works, and the minuteness of others, as well as the fitness of every thing, and of every part of every thing, to the end for which it was intended, furnish proof of the unbounded power and wisdom of their great Author. Whether we consider the heavens the “ work of God's fingers, the moon and the “ stars which he has ordained“;” or whether we turn our attention to the members and motions of our own bodies, and reflect how fearfully and wonderfully we are made; or whether we contemplate the meanest insect that crawls on the earth, or the humblest plant that grows, our minds must be equally led to admire the power, and the wisdom, and the goodness, of the Creator.
b Acts xiv. 17.
c Psalm xix. 1, 4.
I am fully persuaded, my friends, that you all acknowledge these things; I am persuaded, that you are sensible that it is the fool, and the fool only, who can say his heart, There is no God; I am persuaded, that you all profess to believe in GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. But do you really and truly believe in him? Do you believe in him such as he is represented in the Scriptures? Does your belief shew itself to be real in your words, and in your actions ? Suffer me, in two or three instances, to call your attention to what is said of God in the Scriptures, and to point out some of
• Psalm viii, ş.