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with a reconciled God and Father. In short, there is now a hope in him, a hope of salvation, and a hope of glory: and, poor though he be, and ignorant of many things, which are esteemed in the world, though perhaps he may be despised by many, and even pitied for those very qualities, which are his privilege and blessing, yet, when compared with the proudest and most highly gifted of mankind, who is a stranger to the pleasures or to the power of religion, he is now rich indeed. Nor will he be so liable as many may think to be imposed on by a false tale or an enthusiastic dream. Growth in faith will be accompanied by a correspondent improvement in all the powers of his mind, in understanding, in capacity for instruction, in discernment of things, that differ. But above all he will find his affections purified. He will love his neighbour with a very different measure than formerly, will become patient under provocation, forbearing amidst continual vexations, tender of giving offence, and slow to take it. Especially he will be prompt in noticing a work of grace in the hearts of others, and slow to
resent the remainders of corruption. He will know, that he has passed from death to life, because he loves the brethren; and, though he know nothing else, he will know with still increasing certainty and conviction, not only, that God loves him, but that he loves God, and that not by the instruction of others, but by the spirit, which he has given him. Of this indeed he will become convinced by two experimental tests, the infallible indications of the divine life in the soul, first an increasing desire to discharge all his duties in the world from a principle of love and obedience to his maker, and secondly a diminished interest in the employments and gratifications of the world for their own sake. Saint John adds a third test, to which indeed allusion has been already made, namely, the love of the brethren, or a growing and sincere affection to all, who manifest by their conduct, that they belong to Christ, because of that relation to him, and of that degree of resemblance to him, however faint it may be, which results from it.
Now I will ask-Can it be said, that a poor and illiterate man, who is conscious of all this
change, wrought in the dispositions of his heart and the character of his life through the principles and holy influence of the gospel, has no reason of the hope, that is in him? The tree is known by its fruits; and when such a character as I have now described, can be produced, having been formed in any other mould than that of the gospel, it will be time to doubt, whether the existence of it be not conclusive evidence of the divinity of the doctrine, from which it springs. It is true; a thousand good qualities may be found in persons, destitute of the knowledge of the gospel. They may be benevolent, generous, amiable, industrious, and even set an example to christians, which may in some respects put them to shame. But a character, such as that, which I have just drawn, a character, the foundation of which is love to God, and its result an affectionate interest in those meek and holy persons, who are endeavouring in much humility to live to his glory, is only to be reared on principles, peculiar to the bible. The effect, produced by genuine faith in the Saviour of sinners, is thus its own evidence.
that believeth on the son of God, hath the witness in himself. The love of the father, which results from this faith, proves, that he has not believed in vain. He has consequently the strongest of all reasons for the hope, that is in him. Others may have weighed the sum of human testimony in support of the gospel, with which he may be utterly, or almost utterly unacquainted. But, if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son.
In what I have now said I cannot be understood to undervalue either either human testimony, human learning, or any other human attainment. I only wish to shew, that where such advantages are wanting, the power of godliness in the heart of a believer is itself a supernatural attestation to the truth, sufficient to establish him in the faith, though not to confute the gainsayer or to convince the infidel, an attestation, which mere learning without godliness can neither acquire, nor appreciate, but the strength of which is proportioned to the simplicity
and godly sincerity, with which the gospel is embraced and followed.
Nevertheless though God has graciously given such grace to faith, working by love, that in the absence of other evidence it is its own witness to the heart of a believer, it is yet the duty of every Christian to obtain the best external evidence for his faith in his power. It is his duty, because God has clearly rested the credit of his moral attributes and of his revealed truth upon the strength of external evidence, and has thereby declared his will, that we should examine that evidence, and obtain from it the advantage of a rational conviction. It is his duty further, because he has no right to expect more help from God than the necessity of his case requires; and consequently, if God has placed demonstrations of his truth within his view, and he has through negligence or indifference failed to discern them, the time may come, when he may need the aid of that demonstration, which he has neglected, and his faith may be undermined by sophistry, which it was in his power to answer, It is his duty yet again,