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Without faith it is impossible to please God

Without faith it is impossible to please him.Heb. 11:6.

1. But what is Faith? It is a divine "evidence and conviction of things not seen;" of things which are not seen now, whether they are visible or invisible in their own nature. Particularly, it is a divine evidence and conviction of God, and of the things of God. This is the most comprehensive definition of faith that ever was or can be given; as including every species of faith, from the lowest to the highest. And yet I do not remember any eminent writer that has given a full and clear account of the several sorts of it, among all the verbose and tedious treatises which have been published upon the subject.

2. Something indeed of a similar kind has been written by that great and good man, Mr. Fletcher, in his "Treatise on the various Dispensations of the Grace of God." Herein he observes, that there are four dispensations that are distinguished from each other by the degree of light which God vouchsafes to them that are under each. A small degree of light is given to those that are under the heathen dispensation. These generally believed, "that there was a God, and that he was a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." But a far more considerable degree of light was vouchsafed to the Jewish nation; inasmuch as to them "were entrusted" the grand means of light, "the oracles of God." Hence many of these had clear and exalted views of the nature and attributes of God; of their duty to God and man; yea, and of the great promise made to our first parents, and transmitted by them to their posterity, that "the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head."

3. But above both the heathen and Jewish dispensation was that of John the Baptist. To him a still clearer light was given; and he himself "a burning and shining light." To him it was given to "behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the entire world." Accordingly our Lord himself affirms, that "of all which had been born of women," there had not till that time arisen "a greater than John the Baptist." But nevertheless he informs us, "He that is least in the kingdom of God," the Christian dispensation, "is greater than he." By one that is under the Christian dispensation, Mr. Fletcher means one that has received the Spirit of adoption; that has the Spirit of God witnessing "with his spirit, that he is a child of God."

In order to explain this still farther, I will endeavour, by the help of God,
First, To point out the several sorts of faith: And,
Secondly, to draw some practical inferences.

I. In the First place, I will endeavour to point out the several sorts of faith. It would be easy, either to reduce these to a smaller number, or to divide them into a greater. But it does not appear that this would answer any valuable purpose.

1. The lowest sort of faith if it be any faith at all, is that of a Materialist, -- a man who, like the late Lord Kames, believes there is nothing but matter in the universe. I say, if it be any faith at all: for, properly speaking, it is not. It is not "an evidence or conviction of God," for they do not believe there is any; neither is it "a conviction of things not seen," for they deny the existence of such. Or if, for decency's sake, they allow there is a God, yet they suppose even him to be material. For one of their maxims is, "Jupiter est quodcunque vides". "Whatever you see, is God." Whatever you see! A visible, tangible god! Excellent divinity! Exquisite nonsense!

2. The Second sort of faith, if you allow a Materialist to have any, is the faith of a Deist. I mean, one who believes there is a God, distinct from matter; but does not believe the Bible. Of these we may observe two sorts. One sort are mere beasts in human shape, wholly under the power of the basest passions, and having "a downright appetite to mix with mud." Other Deists are, in most respects, rational creatures, though unhappily prejudiced against Christianity: Most of these believe the being and attributes of God; they believe that God made and governs the world; and that the soul does not die with the body, but will remain for ever in a state of happiness or misery.

3. The next sort of faith is the faith of Heathens, with which I join that of Mohammedans. I cannot but prefer this before the faith of the Deists; because, though it embraces nearly the same objects, yet they are rather to be pitied than blamed for the narrowness of their faith. And their not believing the whole truth, is not owing to want of sincerity, but merely to want of light. When one asked Chicali, an old Indian Chief, "Why do not you red men know as much as us white men?" he readily answered, "Because you have the great Word, and we have not."

4. It cannot be doubted, but this plea will avail for millions of modern Heathens. Inasmuch as to them little is given, of them little will be required. As to the ancient Heathens, millions of them, likewise were savages. No more therefore will be expected of them, than the living up to the light they had. But many of them, especially in the civilized nations, we have great reason to hope, although they lived among Heathens, yet were quite of another spirit; being taught of God, by His inward voice, all the essentials of true religion. Yea, and so was that Mahometan, and Arabian, who, many centuries ago, wrote the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdan. The story seems to be feigned; but it contains all the principles of pure religion and undefiled.

5. But, in general, we may surely place the faith of a Jew above that of a Heathen or Mohammedans. By Jewish faith, I mean, the faith of those who lived between the giving of the law and the coming of Christ. These, that is, those that were serious and sincere among them, believed all that is written in the Old Testament. In particular, they believed that, in the fulness of time, the Messiah would appear, "to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness."

6. It is not so easy to pass any judgment concerning the faith of our modern Jews. It is plain, "the veil is still upon their hearts" when Moses and the Prophets are read. The god of this world still hardens their hearts, and still blinds their eyes, "lest at any time the light of the glorious gospel" should break in upon them. So that we may say of this people, as the Holy Ghost said to their forefathers, "The heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed ; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (Acts 28:27.) Yet it is not our part to pass sentence upon them, but to leave them to their own Master.

7. I need not dwell upon the faith of John the Baptist, any more than the dispensation which he was under; because these, as Mr. Fletcher well describes them, were peculiar to himself. Setting him aside, the faith of the Roman Catholics, in general, seems to be above that of the ancient Jews. If most of these are volunteers in faith, believing more than God has revealed, it cannot be denied that they believe all which God has revealed, as necessary to salvation. In this we rejoice on their behalf: We are glad that none of those new Articles, which they added, at the Council of Trent, "to the faith once delivered to the saints, does so materially contradict any of the ancient Articles, as to render them of no effect.

8. The faith of the Protestants, in general, embraces only those truths as necessary to salvation, which are clearly revealed in the oracles of God. Whatever is plainly declared in the Old and New Testament is the object of their faith. They believe neither more nor less than what is manifestly contained in, and provable by, the Holy Scriptures. The word of God is "a lantern to their feet, and a light in all their paths." They dare not, on any pretence, go from it, to the right hand or to the left. The written word is the whole and sole rule of their faith, as well as practice. They believe whatsoever God has declared, and profess to do whatsoever he has commanded. This is the proper faith of Protestants: By this they will abide, and no other.

9. Hitherto faith has been considered chiefly as an evidence and conviction of such or such truths. And this is the sense wherein it is taken at this day in every part of the Christian world. But, in the mean time, let it be carefully observed, (for eternity depends upon it,) that neither the faith of a Roman Catholic, nor that of a Protestant, if it contains no more than this, no more than the embracing such and such truths, will avail any more before God, than the faith of a Mohammedans or a Heathen; yea, of a Deist or Materialist.

For can this "faith save him?" Can it save any man either from sin or from hell? No more than it could save Judas Iscariot: No more than it could save the devil and his angels; all of whom are convinced that every title of Holy Scripture is true.

10. But what is the faith which is properly saving; which brings eternal salvation to all those that keep it to the end? It is such a divine conviction of God, and the things of God, as, even in its infant state, enables every one that possesses it to "fear God and work righteousness." And whosoever, in every nation, believes so far, the Apostle declares, is "accepted of him." He actually is, at that very moment, in a state of acceptance. But he is at present only a servant of God, not properly a son. Meantime, let it be well observed, that "the wrath of God" no longer "abideth on him.'

11. Indeed, many years ago, when the Preachers, commonly called Methodists, began to preach that grand scriptural doctrine, salvation by faith, they were not sufficiently apprized of the difference between a servant and a child of God. They did not clearly understand, that even one "who feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him." In consequence of this, they were apt to make sad the hearts of those whom God had not made sad. For they frequently asked those who feared God, "Do you know that your sins are forgiven?" And upon their answering, "No," immediately replied, "Then you are a child of time devil." No; this does not follow. It might have been said, (and it is all that can be said with propriety,) "Hitherto you are only a servant, you are not a child of God. You have already great reason to praise God that he has called you to his honourable service. Fear not. Continue crying unto him, `and you shall see greater things than these.'"

12. And, indeed, if the servants of God examine themselves by the way, they will receive the adoption of sons. They will receive the faith of the children of God, by his revealing his only begotten Son in their hearts. Thus, the faith of a child is, properly and directly, a divine conviction, whereby every child of God is enabled to testify, "The life that I now live, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

And whosoever has this, the Spirit of God witnesseth with his spirit, that he is a child of God. So the Apostle writes to the Galatians: "Ye are the sons of God by faith. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father;" that is, giving you a childlike confidence in him, together with a kind affection toward him. This then it is, that (if St. Paul was taught of God, and wrote as he was moved by the Holy Ghost) properly constitutes the difference between a servant of God, and a child of God. "He that believeth," as a child of God, "hath the witness in himself." This the servant does not have. Yet let no man discourage him; rather, lovingly exhort him to expect it every moment.

13. It is easy to observe, that all the sort of faith which we can conceive are reducible to one or other of the preceding. But let us covet the best gifts, and follow the most excellent way. There is no reason why you should be satisfied with the faith of a Materialist, a Heathen, or a Deist; nor, indeed, with that of a servant. I do not know that God requires it at your hands. Indeed, if you have received this, you ought not to cast it away; you ought not in anywise to undervalue it but to be truly thankful for it. Yet, in the mean time, beware how you rest here: Press on till you receive the Spirit of adoption: Rest not, till that Spirit clearly witnesses with your spirit, that you are a child of God.

II. I draw a few inferences from the preceding observations.

1. If there be a God, a Materialist is in a dreadful state, for he denies not only the "Lord that bought him," but also the Lord that made him. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." But it is impossible he should have any faith at all; of any conviction of any invisible world; for he believes there is no such thing; and of any conviction about the existence of a God; for a material God is no God at all.

For you cannot possibly suppose the sun or skies to be God, any more than you can suppose a God of wood or stone. And, farther, whosoever believes all things to be mere matter must, of course, believe that all things are governed by dire necessity, a necessity that is as inexorable as the winds; as ruthless as the rocks and as merciless as the waves that dash upon them, or the poor shipwrecked mariners! Who then shall help you, being a poor desolate wretch, when you are most in need of help? Winds, and seas, and rocks, and storms. Such are the best helpers which the Materialists can hope for!

2. One more, I exhort you that fear God and work righteousness, you that are servants of God,
First, repent from all sin, as from the face of a serpent; being

  Quick as the apple of an eye,
       The slightest touch of sin to feel;

and to work righteousness, to the utmost of the power you now have to abound in works both of piety and mercy: And,
Secondly, continually to cry to God, that he would reveal his Son in your hearts, to the intent you may be no more servants but sons; having his love shed abroad in your hearts, and walking in "the glorious liberty of the, children of God."

3. I exhort you, Lastly, who already feel the Spirit of God witnessing with your spirit that you are the children of God, follow the advice of the Apostle: Walk in all the good works whereunto ye are created in Christ Jesus. And then, "leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, and not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God," go on to perfection.

4. Yea, and when ye have attained a measure of perfect love, when God has circumcised your hearts, and enabled you to love him with all your heart and with all your soul, think not of resting there. That is impossible. You cannot stand still; you must either rise or fall; rise higher or fail lower. Therefore the voice of God to the children of Israel, to the children of God, is, "Go forward!" "Forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forward unto those that are before, press on to the mark, for the prize of your high calling of God in Christ Jesus!"

III  Faith that pleased God

"Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."--Hebrews xi. 5

In speaking from these words I shall inquire:
I. Who gave this testimony to Enoch?
II. Notice the nature of the testimony!
III. Consider how this testimony was given!
IV. The conditions upon which he must have received it,
and upon which we may obtain such testimony?
V. The importance of having this testimony!
VI. Consider some of the reasons why so few seem to
have the testimony that they please God?

This is the outline of thought to which I would call your attention, and I suppose that these several points will include subjects on which every thoughtful mind will naturally desire to be informed.

I. Whose testimony was it that Enoch had, that he pleased God?

Surely it must have been God's testimony, for who could give this testimony, but God? If God was pleased with Enoch, and he knew it, how otherwise could he have become possessed of this knowledge but by a revelation from God? And this was doubtless the apostle's meaning, and it was the fact, that Enoch had God's testimony that he pleased him.

II. The nature of the testimony.

(1.)And I remark first, that it was not simply a negative testimony, a mere absence of sin and guilt, and that God was not displeased with him. It was not a mere absence of anything. A hardened sinner will sometimes have this negative kind of testimony: he may not feel the frown of God, nor have any sense at all of God's displeasure.
(2.)The testimony then, that Enoch had, was a positive testimony. God in some way, doubtless, convinced Enoch, and let him understand that he was pleased with him. He indicated the fact that he was pleased with him. Enoch himself had God's testimony that he pleased him.

III. How are we to suppose that this testimony was given to him.

(1.) I observe first that it was not given merely in a providential manner. God did not manifest to Enoch by the course of his providence that he was pleased with him; this has never been the course of God with man. Every one knows that oftimes it is quite impossible to know the moral character of a man by the way in which God deals with him in this world. And this fact completely shows that this world is not the state of retribution, of rewards and punishments. I fear that there are many mistakes made on this subject.

The friends of Job, manifestly reasoned wrong on this subject, they supposed, and argued, that God's dealings with Job proved him to be a wicked man; but Job resisted this mode of reasoning, and insisted that they had a false view of the subject. Almost the entire scope of the book of Job goes to establish this point, that God does not by his providence in this world indicate his view of the moral character of man. The Bible in many places affirms this. "He makes his sun to shine upon the evil and upon the good, and his rain to descend upon the just and upon the unjust."

The wicked are often exalted whilst the righteous are trodden down and afflicted. Neither in their life nor in their death does God often manifest his views of their character. The Psalmist observed this, and he says, "the wicked flourish like a green bay-tree, they are not in trouble like other men, neither are they plagued like other men, verily I have cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocency." But he said this before he was well instructed. When he thought to know this it was too painful for him, he stumbled at it, until he went into the house of God, and there he understood the matter.

There he saw how God dealt with men according to their characters, that God set the wicked in slippery places, and cast them down at last into destruction. These remarks are designed to illustrate what I have just said, that we are not to suppose that God providentially gave this testimony to Enoch. And it is according to the universal observation and testimony of mankind, that God does not show his special pleasure in men by this means.

(2.) I remark again: that God must, doubtless, have in some way indicated the fact to the mind of Enoch through his word, by his Spirit. How else could he have made the communication? It must have been either by providence that God revealed to Enoch that he was pleased with him, or it must have been indicated to his mind directly by the Spirit, as I suppose, through his word.

It should be borne in mind that at that time the scriptures were not filled up as they are now, and, therefore, the Spirit of God could not, without a direct revelation from heaven, have made any application to his mind of much that is written in the Bible. Yet, doubtless, God did manifest himself to Enoch through his word by his Spirit. And here, let me say, that in all cases where men have this testimony, it must be of this character. It must be that God gives this testimony through his word by his Spirit.

(3.) But let me say again: it is done by speaking peace to the soul, giving the soul to understand that God is at peace with it, shedding peace and diffusing it over his soul, giving him the Spirit of adoption, leading him to understand by God's smile on his soul, drawing him into union with himself, and shedding abroad his love in his heart, and so creating such a state of mind that the individual can clearly understand that he is accepted of God, and that God has pleasure in him. This is in exact accordance with the experience of every Christian that has ever known anything of experimental religion.

Any one that has ever had real communion with God, that has ever known what it is to be drawn into union with God in such a manner as to sympathize so deeply with him as to partake of his holiness, and drink of the river of his pleasures, and so to understand what the mind of God is, as to partake in part of its nature, and understand the nature of the peace which God enjoys. And let me say that there is such a thing as God giving to the mind a sense of justification, in other words, a sense of his approval, so that the mind can have no doubt of it at the time. It perfectly understands its acceptance with God. God so smiles upon the soul, and so sheds himself into the soul, that it seems to breathe an atmosphere of peace, so deep and so calm that it is in no doubt of its acceptance with God, no doubt of being in that state with which God is pleased.

IV. The condition upon which Enoch received this testimony,
and upon which every one else may receive it.

(1.) The first condition that I notice is, that the individual who will have this testimony must actually please God, for God will bear no false testimony. It is not enough that Christ has pleased God, that in some mysterious manner Christ's righteousness is imputed to the man. It is only a mere trueism to say that God is pleased with Christ. In the text it is said that God was pleased with Enoch. Now I suppose that we are to understand something more than this, that God accepted him for Christ's sake.

I suppose that we are to understand that God, for Christ's sake, gave him so much of the Holy Spirit as to secure in him a state of mind actually pleasing to God, and that through the Spirit he actually did that which pleased God. We say then that any one who would enjoy this testimony that he pleases God, must be in such a condition of mind as is acceptable to God, and live a life that is pleasing to God.

(2.) I remark again: that there must be, as a condition, implicit confidence in God. There is no duty that is so pleasing to God. When Enoch lived the atonement had not yet been made, but then it was understood that an atonement was to be made. And if this was so, it is certain that he would have had implicit confidence in God as a condition for pleasing him.

The Bible affirms that without faith it is impossible to please him; Enoch must therefore have had implicit confidence in God. But what is implicit confidence? I mean by implicit confidence, that he must have abjured all self-confidence, and have cast himself upon God's grace. And in order to this, he must have had some knowledge of the manner in which God expects man to have implicit confidence in his truthfulness, and faithfulness, and mercy.

(3.) But let me mention another condition: he must have lived to God. It is said of him in the Old Testament that he walked with God three hundred years, and then was translated, and was not, for God took him. This walking with God implies agreement: for the Bible says, "how can two walk together except they be agreed", which in Bible language, means, that two cannot walk together except they are agreed.

Therefore when it is said that "Enoch walked with God," we are to understand that his will and his heart were at one with God; and if this was true he might well have the testimony that he pleased God. And be it remembered that every one who would please God, and would have this testimony, must do as Enoch did; he must agree to have God's government and no other, he must live for every end for which God lives.

(4.) Again: he must set his heart upon pleasing God. No individual will have the testimony that he pleases God unless he really means to please. A man, I say, who would have the testimony that he pleases God, must have a heart set upon pleasing him, he must regard it as of the greatest importance that he please God, he must give himself to the work of pleasing God as a condition of pleasing him.

(5.) Again: Another condition is, that he must not be contented at all to live without the testimony that he pleases God. He must not only aim to please him, but must not be content to live without the testimony that he does please him. If he truly aims to please God, and his heart is set upon this, he will not be satisfied without he succeeds in that which he aims to do, that he really does please God. If an individual does aim to obtain this testimony, but if he considers it only of little importance whether he succeeds, of course he will not have it.

(6.) I remark again: another condition is, he must believe it possible for him to please God. If he does not believe it possible for him to please God; if he has such an idea of God's requirements that they are so exceedingly strict, and that he requires so much of man, that it is almost hopeless of man to expect to please him, if he has this idea, I say, he need not expect to please him. I have heard many persons talk as if it was the height of presumption to try to please God in this world, as if it would be most dangerous to the soul to indulge the belief that it could please him.

These persons represent God as so infinitely exacting, that the highest angel in heaven might hardly hope to please him, how could man hope then to do it? Now when an individual has this idea that God requires his creatures to make brick without straw, that he requires of men that which they cannot do, because he does not give them the ability to do it, then he rejects every expectation of pleasing God. When an individual has this idea he is in a state of mind that cannot please God. It is true that God is holy, that his requirements are perfect. It is true that he requires men to love him with all their heart, and soul, and strength, and their neighbours as themselves, but it also true that his grace is equal to his requirements; and in his requirements he pledges his grace to enable us to perform. It were infinitely strange, not to say unjust, if it were otherwise.

(7.) But again: another condition of having this testimony is this, there is a belief that we may have the testimony, not only that we may please God, but that we may secure his testimony to the fact that we do please him. If we get the idea that God is slow to manifest his pleasure, it will no doubt effectually prevent our having the testimony. It is the tendency of sin to prevent the soul enjoying this delightful assurance of its acceptance with God, and the arch enemy of souls is ever ready to prevent rising to this belief and conviction.

Now, let me apply what I have said to all classes of persons: not only to professed saints, but to those also who are not professed saints. Now, do you really desire the testimony that you please God? Of course, you cannot expect to have it while you remain impenitent. But, may you not enjoy this testimony, if you set your heart upon pleasing God? Yes! you may. To be sure you have not this testimony now, and some of you may say, it will be a great while before I can have it. Why? Will it take you a great while to repent, and set your heart upon obeying God? Oh, no! Well, it is as important for you to have this testimony as any body else, so then why not say at once, As I can have this testimony by the grace of God, I will not live another day without it.

But I would observe, here, that the spirit of self-sacrifice is a condition of having this testimony. Christ lived not to please himself, but to please his Father: and, in order to do this, he was willing to sacrifice everything and his own life also. Now, if any of his followers would have the testimony that they please God, they must have the self-sacrificing spirit of their master. They must be willing to be used up, for the good of his kingdom. They must be willing, as Christ was, to sacrifice even their lives.

V. The importnace of having this testimony.

(1.) And, I remark, first: if persons have it not, who are professors of religion, or seriously disposed, the best that can be said of them is, that they live in a state of continual doubt. If they have not the testimony that they do not please God, yet they fully admit that they feel such a sense of condemnation as to be as far as possible off from having the testimony that they do please him. Now, perhaps, it is so with some of you that everything condemns you, every sermon that you hear or read condemns you, your own consciences condemn you, you cannot go into your closet and pray as you feel you ought: God seems to frown upon you.

You have the clearest evidence that you do not please God. Others of you, perhaps, may not be in exactly this state of depression, but your life, to say the best of it, is full of doubts; you have no such evidence that God is pleased with you, as will allow you to rest satisfied. You are the subjects of many doubts, fears, and anxieties. Perhaps, you seldom, if ever, rise higher than to be greatly anxious about yourselves: or, perhaps, you are too careless even to care about it at all.

When you have red some searching preaching, instead of going with clear testimony that you please God, you seldom go further than to get many doubts and perplexities about it. No wonder that you doubt whether you love and please God. If you have not the testimony that you do, you have good reason to doubt: and I beg of you, that unless you have this testimony, not to persuade yourselves that you ought to do other than doubt! The only rational way for you to act is to decide that you do not please God. If you do please him, why this state of anxiety? Why this everlasting halting? Is it because God is unwilling to manifest himself to you, although you do please him? Let your own hearts answer the question.

(2.) In the next place, as professors of religion, if you have not this testimony, when you are called upon to proclaim the gospel to sinners and pull them out of the fire, you will find that you have so much to think about yourselves as to be able to do nothing for anybody else. This is a great and sore evil! In how many thousands of cases have I found sinners becoming inquirers, and going for advice and comfort to the church, but the church was unable to do anything for them, because they were in doubt, whether they were Christians themselves.

You ask them to pray for sinners, and they can only say, Lord have mercy on me. Now, is this not a great evil? Indeed, it is an evil of the greatest magnitude. Professors of religion, unless they have this testimony, can do but very little for God. I have heard ministers during the time of a Revival, say that they could neither preach nor pray! they had so little evidence of their own acceptance with God that their mouths were shut. What a great evil is this! What can they do for others, when they are in this lamentable condition themselves?.

They cannot go out and work as men of God ought to work. With what confidence can they preach that which they really do not know that they believe themselves, or hold forth the salvation of which they touch not, taste not, handle not! All such persons are a dead weight upon the cause of God, and hang like millstones round the necks of those who would otherwise pull sinners out of the fire. What minister has not found it true, that when his people were living without knowing that they pleased God, that an immense number of difficulties were thrown in the way of good being done.!

When the church can only hang upon the minister, they are in a very bad condition. Perhaps it is the case with some of you--that you are hanging like dead weights on the energies and prayers of those who are labouring for the salvation of souls? And it always will be so, if you are without the testimony that you please God. Professors of religion, Where are you? what are you doing? If you have not the testimony that you please God, you are stumbling blocks, you misrepresent religion.!

What do you mean? You profess to be Christians, children of God; then you ought to have the witness of the Spirit, and hold forth the blessedness of such a salvation to others. But, what are really the facts? Alas! alas! in general professors are always complaining of their leanness and their trials. It would seem, to hear them talk, as if God was the hardest master that any body ever had to serve; that he dealt out his pleasures with so sparing a hand as quite to discourage them! How many times have I heard persons say, if such and such a person's religion is the religion of Christ, it may do very well for a death-bed, but not to live in the world with. Must I go mourning all my days and never have any cheerfulness, if so, I am afraid of such a religion! And well they may be.

(3.) But, let me emphasize this to you: that without this testimony you cannot use the promises. How many times have I heard persons say, if I knew that I was accepted of God, how gladly would I apply to myself such and such promises, but they are meant for the children of God, and I do not know whether I am a child of God or no. O that I did but know that I was a child of God, and I would claim all the promises as mine own.

Perhaps this is the language of some of you. Now, the promises may lie in the Bible, and the Bible may rot upon your shelves, and you make no use of them, because you lack the testimony that they belong to you or because you do not know whether you are children of God.

(4.) Again: this testimony is indispensable to a rational hope of salvation. What reason has a man to believe that he is personally interested in the salvation of Christ, if he has not this evidence. I know that some persons have a hope that they shall be saved, while they are really living in a state of condemnation. But is this a rational hope? I say, NO; it is not a rational hope. I know that such persons as have it cleave to it, but they have no right to cleave to it, most assuredly.

(5.) Again: this testimony is indispensable to peace of mind. No man is at peace till God speaks to him, but when God speaks peace to his soul, he is at peace. But God will not speak peace to his soul till he comes into a state of mind with which God is at peace.

(6.) Again: it is indispensable to Christian liberty. Many professors of religion have no conception of Christian liberty. Christian liberty seems to be with them a kind of license that they suppose themselves to have, as resulting from the imputed righteousness of Christ: and as Christ's righteousness is imputed to them, they imagine that they can be personally sinful, and yet acceptable with God. I know that salvation does not depend upon personal holiness; but, without it the man is not a Christian. No man, therefore, possesses Christian liberty, unless he has the testimony that he pleases God.

(7.) But I remark again: this testimony is indispensable to Christian cheerfulness. No individual has true cheerfulness without it; the mind will be so oppressed with a sense of guilt that the man can hardly speak a word; from day to day he will go bowed down with a sense of guilt. Real Christian cheerfulness that arises from love, and communion with God and deep sympathy with him, is a kind of cheerfulness which they do not understand who have not this testimony. And, let me say, that it is of the greatest importance that Christians be cheerful, for it recommends their religion to others, and often very materially influences their conduct.

How often have I heard men say, when they have seen religion thus cheerfully exhibited, that is the religion for me, that is the religion which meets the demands of our being. Without cheerfulness, a man can scarcely be said to be useful. Let a minister preach to his people without it, and the utmost he will do will be to preach them into condemnation. If a minister thinks though sinners are brought under conviction, but get no further." He should try to understand, the contrastion between the seventh chapter of Romans, with the eighth chapter. Whereas the seventh chapter was descriptive of a state of bondage, of law; but, the eighth was descriptive of the state of Christian liberty.

Let me remark here, that it is a mournful fact that the great mass of religious teachers go no further than the seventh chapter of Romans; they can go so far and cry out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" but they cannot go on to the eighth and say, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."

Now, a minister cannot lead his people further than he goes himself; and, if the people were to get into the liberty of the gospel otherwise than by his means, he would pour cold water upon them, and tell them that they were getting into a strange fanatical state of mind; but how different will it be when the minister has come into this liberty which the gospel is calculated to give. I now come to consider

VI. Some of the reason why so few persons seem to have this testimony

When I say few, I do not mean to say that the whole number is small, for I am happy to know that it is not. Wherever I go I find persons that understand it, and when they hear the sound, they recognize it as the gospel. But taking the great mass, comparatively few know what it is to enjoy this testimony.

(1.) The reason why they have it not, is not because it is so hard to please God. His commandments are not grievous, he says. He is not exacting and hard to please. He expects a willing mind in his service, but he does not expect from man that which he has not, but only that which he has. If the heart and will is right, God accepts it; and the man who gives his heart and will to God shall have the testimony that he please God.

So that when a man has not the testimony that he please God, it is not because God is unwilling to manifest his pleasure when he is pleased. Some people seem to think that it is dangerous to praise even virtue itself. Flattery is always dangerous, but condemnation is only just where it is deserved. Take a family, for example, where the children are endeavouring to please their parents, and when they know that they have done their best, if they are not commended, they think that injustice has been done them, and they relax in their efforts, because they conclude that it is impossible to please so as to gain commendation, let them do what they will.

Just so with a wife, who is always endeavouring to please her husband, and if he is never pleased, the effect is, that she gives up trying, because she sees it is of no use. God in his government supplies this demand of our nature. Let sin be put away from any moral agent, and God loves the agent and manifests his pleasure; it is in his very nature for him to do so. It is but an exception to this rule, that God in a very remarkable and marvelous way hid his face from Christ.

Christ was the representative embodiment of sin, and it was necessary that God should make a public demonstration of his hatred of sin, and although Christ was personally holy since he had become the representative of a sinful race, it was necessary that he should have to utter that agonising cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" But ordinarily when any body please God, he has just as much willingness to manifest it as the most indulgent of parents have to commend their children when they do right.

Some persons, I know, are unwilling to commend their children, and I know that by such conduct they greatly injure their children. When the wife is not commended for kindness to her husband, or the husband to his wife, or children for dutifulness to their parents, great injustice is done, and an immense amount of injury.

(2.) In the next place, the reason why so few have this testimony is, because so few really please God, so few really aim to please him. If they were conscious of being sincerely aiming to please God, they would undoubtedly expect to please him; but being conscious that they do not live for that end, they cannot rationally expect to please him, and of course they cannot expect any manifestation of his pleasure.

(3.) But again, another reason that so few have this testimony is, that they consent to live without it. If men consent to live without knowing whether they please or displease God, they will assuredly not have the testimony that they please him.

(4.) I remark again, that many do not have it, because they have more regard for the approbation of men than the approbation of God. They care so little about pleasing God, that they have ceased to inquire what will please him, and they will not hesitate to do what they know will displease God rather than displease man. These persons, of course, cannot have the testimony of which we are speaking.

(5.) I remark again; that great multitudes of persons seem satisfied with mere negative testimony; if they can manage not to have a conscious sense of condemnation they can get along very well. Dearly beloved, as I have gone over these points, I hope therefore, the things written here meet the case of any of you.

A few remarks will close my essay.
(1.) When a soul has once had the testimony that it pleased God and has lost this testimony, it cannot rest without it. Let an individual who once enjoyed the testimony that he pleased God, fall into sin, and such a person will be among the most unhappy and wretched of mankind.

(2.) This accounts for the fact, that backsliders in heart are ever the most unhappy of mankind and the man that backslides in heart from God is wretched. I deeply pity the man who is a backslider. I pity the husband who has a backsliding wife and I pity the wife who has a backsliding husband. I pity the children who have backsliding parents and I pity the parents who have backsliding children. I pity the minister who has a backsliding church, and I pity the church that has a backsliding minister; the effect is, that the backslider in heart is filled with his own ways and he is wretched wherever he is, and the language of his heart will often be:

"O, where can rest be found?
"Rest, for the weary soul."
Perhaps some of you remember, and often say:
"Those peaceful hours I once enjoyed,
How sweet their memory still."

When you walked with God and had the testimony that you pleased him. You once enjoyed his testimony, and now you are fallen. Well, let me ask if you are not very uncomfortable in that fallen state? Do not your very dreams torment you? Are you not almost afraid to be alone? Dare you commune with your own heart, and be honest with yourselves? If you are in the condition which I have supposed, you are most unhappy and wretched, wherever you are. You may try to be happy and comfortable, but you never can be till you return to God; but when you have done this, and when God's frown is taken away, and he smiles upon you, then you may have peace.

Now will you return? Great as your sins are, will you return? Do you say that your sins are so very great, so that you cannot even lift up your eyes to heaven! Neither could the publican, but he smote upon his breast and cried, "God be merciful to me a sinner." You can do that! If you cannot hold up your head before God, you can get down into the dust, where the Psalmist was when he cried out in the agony of his soul to God and confessed his sin before him. You can do that, and the question is will you do it?

(3.) I remark again, what I have written to Christians may with equal propriety be applied to anxious sinners. And to such, I write, you can have the testimony that you please God, if you give yourselves up to please him. If you renounce your sins, and have no fellowship with iniquity, so great is his grace, that through his son Jesus Christ you may breathe the spirit of liberty and of love, and possess the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

If you will but believe; if you will but make up your minds to walk with God, you may know what it is to have the testimony that you please him. Some of you may be ready to say, O, if I could have this testimony, there is nothing that I would not do; there is no part of the world to which I would not go, if I could obtain acceptance with God.

Yes, you want to buy it; but, until you will be content to do the will of God, and cast yourselves wholly upon the grace of Christ for it, you will never possess it. You may say, I have thought, desired, and prayed, and avowed my willingness to do anything if I might but obtain acceptance with God. Did it never occur to you that there was much self-righteousness in your desire to do something to obtain this, otherwise than by the means which God has appointed: it was a self-righteous effort.

It is not very difficult to come to Christ; why do not you come to him? What say you, may I come to Christ? Can I come to Christ just as I am? Will he accept me? Yes, you may come to him, and he will accept you. Hear what he says, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." If you come to Christ, you may have the testimony that you please God; that you believe on him, and cast yourselves upon him, is all God requires of you.

And now, you who are professors of religion, and you who are not, is it not best for you one and all to say, by the grace of God we will have this testimony. What minister, what professor, what sinner, in this house, but will say, If by the grace of God, it is offered to me, I will have it and enjoy it, or I will die for it. O God, I will accept thy offered mercy. Lord Jesus, I believe thy gospel, and I accept it.

You that have the testimony that you please God, I know that in the depth of your emotions you often groan within you, on account of the miserable death in which some persons are that pretend to live: your souls, pray for them, let them pray on, God's spirit is in the midst of you, and now is the time for a resurrection from the dead. What say you sinner? Will you arise from the dead and come forth? Christ calls you, and presents you with his life-giving blood. He puts it even to your lips. Do you dash it away? Does your soul not want the testimony that God is reconciled to you? Do you not desire the testimony that you please God? If you do, then believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall have the very thing that you require.

Now we are going to God in prayer, and what say you, shall we go on your behalf in the name of Christ? Who of you are prepared to go with us to a throne of grace, and cast your souls upon God? What individual now in bondage is willing to be released? Come and sore away from all your unbelief, and cast yourself upon Christ. Empty your vessel and cast it bottom upwards and make it quite empty, and then bring it to Christ, and it shall be filled. Will you come? Will you come? WILL YOU COME? Let your heart answer! Let your heart respond! Let it speak out, LORD JESUS MY SOUL HEARS, AND I COME, I COME. Amen.


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