The Course of Faith, or
The Practical Believer Delineated

By John Angell James, 1852


Man is made not only for contemplation and emotion—but for action. Activity is an essential attribute of human nature; our faculties seem scarcely to exist--but in exercise. Everything in our world is in motion, and in God's great system, there is neither vacuum nor quiescence. The wheels of nature and of Providence are not made to roll backward nor to stand still. An idle man is one of the most miserable of God's creatures, and woe be to him who is self-doomed to suffer the pains and penalties of indolence. At his creation, man was destined to be a laborer. In Paradise Adam was a working man. There was, however, this difference between his condition then and ours now—in Eden his work was without fatigue, and pain, and draining of his strength—now work is accompanied with all these. But still, that which in one respect is a curse, is in another a blessing. The curse does not consist in labor—but in the concomitants which sin has attached to it. If in Paradise, man would not have been happy without employment, when he had no dark and troubled thoughts—no guilty conscience to break in upon his solitude and make his own companionship unwelcome, and his hours tedious—how much less could he be happy now, with nothing to do but to converse with his own depraved heart and burdened conscience. It is not labor then—but the excess of it, which constitutes the curse—and even the hardest labor would soon to most people become more tolerable than absolute non-employment.

Man thus must work—yes, and so must the Christian. The Bible knows nothing of an unworking believer. There will be employment in heaven. We are not to conceive of the celestial state as one of dreamy repose. We know very well "there remains a rest for the people of God," but with our incorruptible, spiritual, and glorified bodies, activity will be rest, and rest activity. It is beautifully said of that state– "There his servants shall serve him!" As if it were their sole employment, honor, and bliss, to serve Him. The flame of love will not consume itself in the mere fervor of seraphic devotion—but will diffuse the warmth of life through the glorified soul and body, and sustain the untiring and unexhausted energies of both, in immortal vigor.

We here take up two or three passages of Holy Scripture. The apostle, in writing to the Thessalonians, speaks of "the work of faith," 1 Th. 1:4; 2 Th. 1:11. By this we are to understand, not what faith is—but what it does. It is of itself a mental work—but the apostle evidently intends to describe its effects rather than its nature, and to represent it as a principle, or rather the principle of Christian activity. We may next refer to what is said in James 2– "What does it profit, my brethren, though a man says he has faith, and has not works? Can that faith save him? Faith, if it have not works, is dead, being alone. Yes, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works—show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." In that important practical part of the New Testament, the apostle does not intend to contradict the apostle Paul, as we showed in a former chapter, where he states that we are justified by faith without works—but to show that the faith which stands alone in the justification of a sinner, necessarily draws after it the good works which justify the profession of the believer. Here, then, the indispensable necessity of good works as a fruit of faith, and a condition, though not a meritorious one, of salvation, is most emphatically insisted upon. How much is said about this subject in other places, even by Paul, though he so strenuously insisted upon the exclusion of good works from justification. He describes the real Christian as one who is "zealous of good works." Titus 2:14. Almost immediately afterwards, he says– "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives." Titus 3:14. And just before this we find the following striking passage– "This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:8.

The faithful sayings and things which the apostle orders Titus to affirm, are not what follows—but what went before, that is, our justification by grace through faith. It is not a mere direction to Titus to inculcate upon believers the practice of good works—but a direction as to the most efficient means of maintaining that practice; and that is, a full exhibition and earnest enforcement of the great essential articles of evangelical truth—these were to be constantly affirmed, in order that believers might be careful to maintain good works. Evangelical doctrines were to be taught as the creative principles of evangelical practice. Justification by faith without works, was to be exhibited and applied, for the very purpose of producing works. What an answer to those who tell us that the doctrines of grace lead to licentiousness! On the other hand, what a severe rebuke to those who treat these doctrines as mere theological dogmas, or Christian privileges—but not as practical principles. Nothing more strikingly proves and represents the practical nature of the gospel, than this; nor more beautifully exhibits the union of Christian theology with Christian morality. Justification and sanctification are not only inseparably joined together—but the former is to be taught for the purpose of producing the latter.

We come then to this great and important conclusion, that true faith is inseparable from, and productive of, good works. It may be well here to describe GOOD WORKS.

1. They must be good in nature—materially good—good in themselves. By which we mean they must be something which God has commanded. The rule of actions which are entitled to this epithet, is the Word of God. True religion consists in doing just what God has enjoined and nothing more—all unprescribed services, however imposing in appearance; however mortifying to the flesh; however commanded by men or by ecclesiastical authority; instead of being good works--are bad ones. All that mass of ceremony with which Popery has overlaid the simplicity that is in Christ, is a wicked invasion of the authority of God, and a corruption of his religion, and meets with no other reception from him, than the hypocritical formalism of the Jews, in reference to which he said– "Who has required this at your hands?" To command what God has not commanded, and thus add to his laws, is a reflection upon his wisdom and goodness, and an usurpation of his rights; for if it be good and right to be done, why did he neglect to require it? if it is bad, who so wicked as to prescribe it? Is this not setting up another authority than his--to require what he has not required? What would be said of any one who should presume to add to the laws of this kingdom, and who made it the duty of her Majesty's subjects to obey them? Upon this absurd notion of our doing something more than what God has commanded, and than what it is our duty to do, the popish doctrine of purgatory and indulgences is founded. The merit of this surplus of duty goes to form a treasury, placed at the disposal of the Pope, who can deal it out in such measures as he thinks fit, for the benefit of the souls in purgatory, to lessen the weight or shorten the duration of their sufferings in that disciplinary state. How horrid an idea! But what a power it gives to that accursed system! Surely true piety may find enough to do in what is commanded, without inventing and doing what is not.

By good works then, we are to understand all the great duties of Christian morals—all that we owe to God according to the prescriptions of the moral law and the Christian economy; together with all that we owe to our neighbor according to the second table of the law—and all that we owe to ourselves in the way of self-government of our appetites and propensities. Justice, truth, chastity, mercy, social and domestic virtue—these are the virtues, the excellence of which is acknowledged by all nations; the necessity of which to the well-being of society, has been admitted by moralists of every country and every age; to the neglect or practice of which, historians have traced the prosperity or the decline of nations. These are the good works which Christianity enjoins. Her religious rites are few and simple; her ceremonies occupy a very small and secondary place in her system; the main space being left for the whatever things are true, and honest, and pure, and just, and lovely, and of good report. Her place on earth is not merely the sanctuary of religion—but the scenes of social and domestic life. Her business is not only to regulate the ceremonial of the temple—but the transactions of the exchange. And her object is not only to make the devotee—but the good member of social life. And this is its excellence and its glory.

But while the whole range of moral duties is included within the circle of "good works," and are all the fruits of faith, there is one species of sacred virtue, which in the Scripture, by way of special emphasis, is designated "good," and that is beneficence. Hence by the injunction– "Do good," the apostle intends, acts of benevolence. This also is his meaning where he says– "For scarcely for a righteous man, will one die—yet peradventure for a good (that is, benevolent) man, some would even dare to die." From thus it is evident, that in those days eminent philanthropy was supposed to be the crown of virtue—the man who to justice added mercy, was considered the perfection of humanity—a perfection very rarely exhibited in the heathen world. Here we have occasion again to note and admire the excellence of Christianity, inasmuch as it inculcates not only good works in general—but especially that particular species, which by way of eminence and emphasis, is set forth as the best of the good—and clearly shows that a Christian is to be distinguished above all others by his abounding beneficence.

2. Good works are such as spring from faith in the system of Divine truth; but as this is included in the general subject, I need not enlarge upon it, farther than to say, that good works cannot precede—but must follow the exercise of faith. Not only must there be faith in God—but in Christ—not only faith in general—but saving faith—not only faith for sanctification—but for justification, before good works can be performed. We would however hesitate to call that amiable, useful, and lovely virtues which are practised by some unconverted people, in the full sense of the phrase, bad or wicked works. That they do not constitute holiness, cannot be accepted by God as morally excellent, and can avail nothing to salvation, is quite clear—but they may be characterized as defective, and therefore sinful, rather than wicked, except where they are performed under the impulse of pride or vanity. Until a man really believes in Christ, there certainly can be no works that are spiritually good. The Article of the Church of England– "On Works done before Justification,'' is very explicit on this subject. "Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of His Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men fit to receive grace, or deserve grace; for as they are not done as God has willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but that they have the nature of sin."

3. Good works must proceed from a renewed heart. The tree must be made good, before the fruit can be good. The fruits of the Spirit can be yielded only by a heart sanctified by the Spirit. There is a material difference, as in a former chapter we have considered, between the morality of a worldly man, and that of a Christian; not in outward appearance—but in inward principle; not in matter—but in rule, motive, end; not in benefit to the object—but in reward to the subject.

4. Good works are such as are directed to the glory of God. The end of an action is its moral characteristic. It is not only what I do that constitutes moral excellence—but for what end and purpose I do it. A man may be exceedingly kind to a fellow-creature, and really promote his happiness, and yet it may not be out of any regard to the welfare of the individual whom he thus favors—but merely to promote some personal end of his own. Under the guise of bounty he may conceal the most detestable selfishness. So whatever works, materially excellent, a man may perform towards God, yet they are not good in the scriptural sense of the word, unless they are performed with an intelligent and voluntary regard to that injunction– "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Leave out God as the end of our actions, and everything we do falls short of true piety, however excellent it may appear in itself, and however beneficial it may be to others.

We can now clearly perceive, that in all this, faith bears a most distinguished part—faith recognizes the Word of God as the rule of conduct, which teaches us what good works are required of us—faith brings us into a state of acceptance with God, on the ground of which our works are accepted—faith unites us to Christ, and derives from him, as the branch from the tree, the spiritual life which enables us to bring forth good fruit—and faith acknowledges God to be the end of all our actions.

There is one beautiful exhibition of the operation of faith, which deserves separate and special notice, as presenting us with a very complete and very attractive representation– "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything—nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by LOVE." Gal. 5:6. In this one passage—in these few plain words—the whole Christian scheme comes out upon us in all its simplicity, sublimity, and beauty. We learn it both in its negative form, as setting light by ceremony, and in its positive nature, as consisting of spiritual exercises and moral duties. Here is an epitome of gospel truth and gospel practice—of Christian duty and Christian privilege. Who, in comparing with this the gorgeous ritual of Popery, and its humble imitations in Puseyism, does not perceive that the system of the New Testament and that of these corruptions of it, are two entirely different things. How opposed to the spirit of this simple and beautiful language is the spirit of that formalism which has become so fashionable in these modern times. What do we find in this passage, or any other in the New Testament, of that zeal for architecture and sculpture—for ecclesiastical vestments and robes—for postures and genuflexions—for sacraments and ceremonies—for fasts and festivals—for apostolical succession and episcopal ordination—for priestly mediation and prelatical authority—for absolution and confession—for the position of a font and the furniture of the altar—which enter so largely into the religion of so many in these days?

How melancholy does it make an intelligent and ardent lover of his New Testament, to see Christianity, which came into our world to raise human nature not only to its manhood—but to its real and noble sainthood, degraded to the task of substituting endless frivolities for substantial excellences; to see her compelled to mimic the ceremonies of Paganism, and to go back to the obsolete system of Judaism, in order to restore to us a religion of the 'senses' instead of the 'intellect'. And thus, while the world around is growing in strength and stature, exhibiting the church sinking into a second childhood, and becoming a pupil of the Pope instead of Christ. But no! Christianity does not, will not sanction this; it may be done in her name—but it is without her authority, and against her precepts and her principles. She that in the person of her Divine Lord was born in a stable—brought up at Nazareth—delivered her lessons on mountains and in streets—chose her apostles from the boats of fishermen—and summed up all she is and all she taught in these few simple words—FAITH THAT WORKS BY LOVE—she, I say, turns with the mingled smile of contempt, and frown of indignation, from the trumperies which the false religious priests are palming off upon this generation--for pure and undefiled religion.

Because God in his wisdom, gave to his church in its infancy a Bible of hieroglyphics and a religion of symbols, these men would prevent the church from coming to the unity of the faith, and a knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Here, then, are our activities—not a moving round and round in the enchanted circle of the church--instead of the Bible; of ceremonial observances--rather than moral duties; ever in motion—but never in progress. No! But instead of this, cherishing the faith that works by love. We do not mean to contend that this excludes the observance of public worship, baptism, and the Lord's supper; but, we do mean to say that, by implication, it places these below the exercise of faith and love, as far inferior to them.

We have, now to consider, in following out the consideration of this passage, What that LOVE is, which faith produces. And this of course begins with God. He is the supreme object of holy love. True religion is love, and love begins with God. The very substance of true conversion is a change from supreme selfishness--to this Divine affection. Every unconverted sinner is supremely selfish; that is, he loves himself, and all that pertains to himself, instead of God. He goes further in depravity than this; for he not only does not love God—but he dislikes him. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." He views God as his enemy. Under a consciousness that he has sinned against God, he is afraid of him, and retires from him; and would forever avoid him if he could. He likes nothing that appertains to him, neither his people—nor his Word—nor his service. Though a sense of his dependence may sometimes lead him to ask for his pity and help; yet in other circumstances and moods, he is repelled from God, especially when viewed in his moral attributes of holiness and justice. Conscious guilt, therefore, works by enmity.

In this state, the mind, and heart, and conscience, of the sinner remains--and ever must remain, until faith comes into his heart. There he is, as long as he is ignorant of the gospel, and destitute of faith in Christ, a sullen wanderer from God, feeling, if not saying– "Depart from me! I desire not the knowledge of your ways!" But the hour of mercy arrives. His attention is arrested either by a sermon, or by some other means, and fixed upon the glad tidings of salvation. He is convinced by the Spirit, not only of sin—but of righteousness. The message of Divine love in Christ's death as an atonement, not only reaches his ear—but enters, like heavenly music, into his very soul. Yes, it is a fact—a great and glorious fact—that God has loved him; Christ died for him; salvation is offered him. He believes it—really believes it—not only hears of it, talks of it, desires it—but believes it. He commits his soul, by an act of confidence, into the hands of Christ. There is his faith—simple, firm, hopeful. That faith has changed everything. It has wrought an entire revolution of thought, feeling, and willing. For see what he has believed—he believes God has good-will towards him; wills not his death; delights in his salvation, and has been all along during the days of his stubborn unregeneracy waiting to be gracious to him. He hears his voice saying– "Come unto me. Turn to me! Why will you die?—Can a man really believe that, and not be changed? Impossible! His sullenness gives way—his heart melts—all his views of God are changed, and so are all his feelings towards him.

"He loves me! God loves me!" he exclaims with astonishment. "Wicked as I have been—wretch that I have proved myself towards him—he has sent his Son to die for me, and has pursued me by his Spirit in my wanderings, and has at length brought me to himself. Oh, my father, my father, you have conquered me by your love--and now what can I do but love you in return. Yes, you who were once the object of my hatred--are now the object of my supreme affection. You who were once the point of repulsion for my poor guilty soul--are the sovereign attraction. What now shall I render to you for your infinite mercies towards me? Truly I am your servant, you have loosed my bonds!"

What a change! Now, God appears infinitely lovely. Every attribute of his nature is a separate glory, and all combined are transcendent beauty. Even justice and holiness, which once so terrified him and drove him away like the flaming sword of the cherubim repelling Adam from Eden, are all loveliness, as well as mercy. Wonder, gratitude, love, joy--all by turns, take possession of his soul. All that is God's, now delights—his character, his Word, his people, his day, his service.

And especially is Jesus an object of affection. Once a cold and careless thought, and this only occasional, was all he gave to Christ. He saw no beauty that he should desire him—no worth that he should choose him. His bosom never glowed with a beam of gracious warmth. The cross itself was a sound that awakened no emotion. Neither Gethsemane nor Calvary had any charms for him. He considered the joys of believers as wild enthusiasm; and their attestations to the preciousness of him whom unseen they loved--as little better than cant. But now, what a change has come over him in reference to the Savior of his soul. His name, is music; his person, the object of admiration, love, and delight; his work, the cause of unbounded gratitude; his example, the perfection of beauty; and his commandments, a law most pleasant to be obeyed. He is indeed "precious," the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely one.

What has produced this change of sentiment, feeling, and choice? What is it that has made the subject of this change thus voluntarily take up the yoke he once spurned, and which impels him on to works of devotedness, obedience, and self-denial? FAITH! The man has now really believed, which he never did before, the testimony concerning Christ. He had read it with a careless eye, and heard it with a half-closed ear—but without a single fixed thought, or one conviction of truth; but now he understands, believes--and all is changed! O, what a revolution was wrought in that hour when faith opened the door of the heart, and let in the testimony to Christ contained in the Gospel.

And we can understand this easily enough by analogy. There is a fellow-creature whom your misconduct has made your enemy. He is powerful, and can avenge the insult you have done, and the injury you have inflicted. You dread him, and in equal proportion is your hatred of him. You shun him, for you are afraid of him, since you imagine he can entertain no purpose towards you but of revenge. But you mistake his character and his intentions. He is generous and forgiving, and out of mere kindness sends you a message that he is willing to pardon you and receive you to his friendship. At first you cannot credit the assertion, and retain your dread and hate. The message of mercy is repeated and confirmed by evidence you cannot resist—your stubborn unbelief, and sullen ill-will relax, and you begin to think more favorably of his disposition towards you, and to feel a change coming over your disposition towards him. At length you are brought into full confidence in his unmerited and surprising favor. "Yes," you exclaim– "it is really true—he who could have ruined me, pities me and pardons me—I cannot doubt it, I believe it. I am vanquished by love. O my benefactor, my benefactor, I thank you—I love you—and from this hour I will serve you."

What is this? Faith working by love—and a resemblance of the operation of the grace of faith in the sinner's heart towards Jesus Christ, and his Divine Father. "We love him because he first loved us," and the cause of that entire change in all our views of and feelings towards God, which constitutes conversion, is thus stated by the apostle– "We have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love. He who dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16. Herein is verified his own beautiful language to the Jews– "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." Hosea 11:4. O wondrous power of love! Mighty conqueror of man's stony heart! How soft, yet how invincible your influence! But it must be believed to be victorious.

Doubts and fears of its reality, or its sincerity, deprive it of its force. Even the infinite, omnipotent love of the eternal God can have no power over the soul that is steeled in unbelief. It is faith that unlocks, unbolts, unbars the gate of "Mansoul," for love, which is besieging it in vain until then, to enter and take full possession. And in every after stage of the Christian life, it is this same faith keeping up the same lively sense of God's love to us, that keeps up our love to God.

Love being thus brought into the soul by faith, and kept there also, remains not idle or inert—but sets instantly to work. Love is the most active thing in all the world. See it in the conduct of a tender and faithful wife towards the husband of her heart. See it in the mother's sleepless activities towards the babe at her bosom. See it in the devoted servant towards the master of his choice. What will love not do in the way of constant, self-denying, untiring activity? What will love not bear in the way of privation and suffering? How hard--yet how willingly, and cheerfully, and pleasantly--it works for its object. Work is pleasure—labor is delight. Love seems to resemble the cherubic figure, having the courage of the lion, the patience of the ox, the wing of the eagle--and all directed by the intelligence and will of the man.

All this is true of love to GOD, which is the strongest, the tenderest, and most invincible of all loves. It is the sublime of love, the loftiest and noblest exercise of this master passion of the human soul.

Love also works in the way of obedience– "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." 1 John 5:3. Love is not a mere emotion—but a principle; not only a matter of the sensibility—but of the will; not the mere genial warmth of a soul of softer mold—but the steady, and in some cases stern resolve of a mind that lays hold of the strength of God, and says– "I will serve you even unto death!" The works love performs are all things that God has enjoined. It takes up the moral law, and says– "All this will I do—my delight is to do your will, O God." It allows of no selections or exceptions—but says– "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all your commandments." It makes no stipulations—but surrenders itself to any conditions or circumstances. It covenants for no limitations of time or place—but is eager to serve everywhere, on earth and in heaven; and always--unto death and through eternity. There is one thing, and one only in all the universe which love hates, and which it hates with an intense and unquenchable animosity in all its forms and degrees—and that is sin! And there is one thing which love covets, seeks, and prays for, with all its heart, and soul, and strength—and that is holiness. Such is love, such the working of faith by love.

But still this is only one aspect of love--though it must be admitted the loftiest aspect of love. God is the first and supreme—but not the only object of Christian affection. There is a second as well as a first table of the law, which demands love to our Christian BRETHREN, even as the first table, which demands love for God. And even to this second table of the law the gospel adds a supplement, and demands a holy regard for our Christian brother—both of which are conjoined by the apostle, where he says– "add to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love."

How frequently, how variously, and how earnestly are we enjoined both by our Lord, and by that disciple whom Jesus loved, and who by leaning on his bosom seemed to have caught most of his spirit, to love our brethren. Love to the brethren is the law of Christ's kingdom– "This is my commandment, that you love one another." Love to the brethren is the badge of discipleship– "Hereby shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Love to the brethren is the evidence of conversion– "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." Love to the brethren is the grand inference from the cross– "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." Love to the brethren is the natural yearning of the renewed heart—the instinctive promptings of the new nature—the reaching forth of the arm too feeble and too short to clasp the neck of the Divine Father, to entwine around his image in his children!

And what is the spring of this affection? Why faith. See how these two are united– "Hearing of your love and faith, which you have toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints." Phil. 5. As if it were impossible to have faith in Christ without love towards the saints. And so it is utterly and absolutely impossible—and the more faith we have in Christ the more love we shall have towards the saints. Believing the love that Christ has towards them, viewing them as the purchase of his blood and the objects of his tenderest affection, our hearts will by a kind of necessity be knit to them. Every fresh view of the cross will endear them to our hearts.

If each limb of our body were the seat of a separate consciousness, how strong a regard, and tender a sympathy, might it be supposed would exist between the members, and how all would love each, and each all, on account of the one animating and presiding soul which was their center of unity. Now in the mystical body of Christ, this is the case; each has a separate individual soul, while all are united to the same Divine Head, and each loves all, and all love each other, on account of the Divine Head to which all are united by faith; and as each presses nearer to the great center, they all press nearer to one another.

And why is it that the members of this body do not love one another more, and allow such comparatively trifling matters to alienate them from each other? How is it that sectarianism gains such an ascendency over the members of the redeemed family, and introduces so much coldness, distance, and even hostility? Just because the faith of the church is so weak. Did we more powerfully realize the fact that Christ has died for us all—that he loves us all—that he claims us all—that he delights in us all—would not the effect of this persuasion be to check the progress of alienation and draw us closer to each other?

Are there not happy, holy moments, rich in blessing, when gazing upon the cross, and melting into love, we feel as if we really did love without one alien feeling, all for whom Christ died. Before that strong and steady belief, which comprehended the whole plan, purpose, and objects of redeeming mercy--every enmity was subdued, and all indifference was warmed into affection, and we felt on rising from our knees as if there were not a Christian in existence of any sect, creed, or party, around whose neck we could not throw the arms of love, and say– "My brother, my brother!" It is only from a stronger faith--that a stronger love can grow up in the Christian church, and all attempts to bring about union that do not begin here will most assuredly fail. The first movement, therefore, in this direction, must be towards the cross.

But then, KINDNESS must be added love. By the latter, as distinguished from the former, we are to understand good-will to all mankind, irrespective of character. The one is brother-love—the other is neighbor-love. The one is obedience to the law, the other is the fruit of the gospel—but both are the fruits of a working faith. It is of this love the apostle speaks in that beautiful chapter, the thirteenth of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. The subject of that wonderful and glorious portion of Scripture is the love which we are to add to our brotherly-kindness. That one chapter is worth incalculably more than all the volumes the pen of moral philosophy ever wrote. What a happy world, how nearly resembling heaven, we would live in--if that were the rule of conduct everywhere, always, in all things, and for all men. Earth would reflect the face of heaven, even as in the mirror of a peaceful lake, the quiet, noiseless, blue sky is to be seen.

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Cor. 13:4-7. What a seraph! But where is she to come--and what is to bring her? Where? From heaven! What? Faith! No, there is nothing like this on earth. She has lain in the bosom of God; and next to his Son, is his darling offspring, which, at the prayer of faith, he sends down to bless the world. He who dwells in love, dwells in God and God in him.

Charity, or good-will to all, a desire of the happiness of all, and a will to promote it, is the very culminating point—the crown and glory of love, so far as creatures are its object. Even the whole church is not enough—nor the whole world—but the great universe of God. All being, created or uncreated--is the object of his regard; and happiness, the happiness of the whole, his desire. His heart works outward in its wishes to the remotest circle. And what is the impulsive power? Faith. He believes in God, and in God's love. He believes in Christ, and in Christ's love. He believes that "God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish—but have everlasting life." He believes that Christ shed his blood as a propitiation for the sins of the world. He would love all whom God and Christ love, and with the same kind of love. He would keep pace in the workings of his benevolence with the workings of that which is Divine. His universal benevolence is a very different thing from that which infidelity prates about. It takes its pattern from God's, which recognizes the social ties and their charities, and leaves in all their strength, order, and working, the relations of man to man; but which at the same time, moves onward from particulars to generals.

He who has most faith, will have most charity. The predominance of this all-working, ever-working, mighty-working principle of faith, would convert the whole church into a company of philanthropists. When the full power of the cross is felt in the hearts of believers—when all the constraining influence of the love of Christ is experienced—when the whole church is fully possessed with the spirit of faith, and rooted and grounded in love—the scene so beautifully exhibited in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, will in some form and extent be repeated, and no man call anything that he has, his own—with this only difference, that the love of believers will not stay in the church—but go out into all the world. The Howards, the Clarksons, the Wilberforces, the Buxtons, the Allens, the Frys--whose zeal and humanity were produced by faith, will no longer be the rare and beautiful exceptions to the ordinary believers—but the ordinary race of Christians. And the Schwartzs, the Brainerds, the Careys, the Morrisons, the Martyns, the Vanderkemps, the Williamses, the Moffats, will be only the average standard of professing Christians.

The full power of faith would make the whole church willing to be philanthropists, missionaries, reformers, or martyrs, as God should require. Then, when faith has acquired this power, will the church exhibit its characteristic loveliness as the benefactress of the world. To do good is its calling. The church is God's representative in our world; and, as bearing his image, to teach the world what he is, it should bear upon its lofty front this inscription– "The church is love, for God is love." All professing Christians should feel that benevolence is their appropriate duty, their very work of works. The love of worldly things would appear to be destroyed. That eager ambition after wealth, for the sake of the luxuries and splendors which it enables its possessor to command, should be transmuted into a desire to be rich in order to be liberal. The glory of affluence should, in their estimation, lie in the opportunity it affords to do good. Instead of an anxiety to obtain noble mansions, elegant furniture, handsome equipages, and expensive entertainments, and all the other luxuries of taste and fashion--the followers of Him, who though rich, yet for their sakes became poor, and of his equally poor apostles--should be distinguished by an obvious simplicity of habit and living. In this way, among others, their faith should gain the victory over the world; in this way, should work by love; in this way, labor for the good of mankind. They should shrink their luxuries that they may enlarge their charities. Frugality of living should provide the resources of their liberality; and they should spend too much upon others, to have much to spend upon themselves, instead of reversing this as many do, who spend too much upon themselves, to have much to spend upon others. And a stronger faith must and would inevitably lead to this. For who could embrace, by a vigorous belief, the self-denying doctrines, precepts, and example of Christ, and not realize their obligations and perform their duties?

Here then is the "labor of love," springing from the work of faith.

But it is time to draw this chapter to a close, and what better close can be given to it, than most emphatically again to remind the reader, that true religion is work—hard work—a great work! It is by multitudes fearfully mistaken. All along the page of inspired truth, the word is continually occurring—work, work, work. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." "Be zealous for good works." "Be careful to maintain good works." "I know your works." These are but specimens of Scripture language on this subject.

I am afraid that many are deceiving themselves with a religion which is neither work nor pleasure—but only a name. They have perverted the doctrine of 'justification by faith without works'--into an excuse for the neglect of works altogether. They seem to imagine that faith is an opiate--instead of a stimulant. They seem to imagine that Calvary a place of slumber--instead of labor. They seem to imagine that the cross a goal--instead of a starting-point. When we are converted, instead of considering our labor done, we should remember it is but just began.

When the Israelites were possessed of Canaan, they had the Amorites and other enemies to conquer and drive out before them. Every man has corrupt and sinful habits that have overspread themselves in the heart, and as it were garrisoned themselves in the heart--and which can be reduced only by a tedious and valorous siege. Or to change the metaphor, habits like weeds that by an accursed fertility are ever springing up in the soil of our moral nature, sprout afresh as often as they are cut down. Let a man make experiment in any one sin of his heart, whether it be pride, or malice, or covetousness; and does it suddenly and easily fall before his attempts at mortification? Does the first baffle or blow make him victorious, and enable him to set his foot upon the neck of his conquered enemy? No! are there not many vicissitudes in the combat? Is he not sometimes victor, and at other times vanquished? And perhaps after all his conflicts with it, many a Christian goes out of the world only with this half-trophy, enough indeed just to save him, that he was not overcome. Alas, of how few can it, be said that "they are more than conquerors."

Then let it be remembered also, the work of mortification of sin is but half the work a Christian has to do; for there is also vivification of graces, which is the other half. Religion ends not in negatives. No man ploughs his field, or tills his garden, merely to kill weeds—but to sow corn and to plant flowers. A room may be clean--and yet empty. It is not enough for our hearts to be swept--unless they be also furnished. A man may not in disposition be a tiger or a demon--and yet he may not be a saint or an angel. Now our religion requires not only putting away our pride, our malice, our covetousness, and our injustice—but also cultivating humility, liberality, love, and generosity. True religion is of an aspiring nature, requiring us to proceed from grace to grace; to faith adding virtue, to virtue adding patience, to patience adding temperance, to temperance adding godliness, to godliness adding brotherly-kindness, and to brotherly-kindness adding love; thus ascending by degrees, until at length the top of the lofty staircase reaches to heaven, and lands the soul so qualified in the mansions of glory! And who knows not that the ascent by such a steep flight of steps is a work of labor and difficulty?

Nothing but faith can enable the soul to accomplish this; and this it does, as we have shown in the chapter on sanctification, by obtaining through Christ that aid of the Holy Spirit, by whom alone our good works can be accomplished.

I conclude this chapter with the words of Bishop Jeremy Taylor– "From these premises we may see but too evidently, that though a great part of mankind pretend to be saved by faith, yet they know not what it is, or willfully mistake it--and place their hopes upon sand or the more unstable waters. Mere head-knowledge is the least thing in a justifying faith. Alas, the niceties of a 'clear understanding', and the curious nothings of a 'useless speculation', and all the opinions of men that make the divisions of heart, and do nothing else, cannot bring us one drop of comfort in the day of tribulation; and therefore are no parts of the strength of faith. No, when a man begins truly to fear God, and is in the agonies of mortification, all these 'new nothings and curiosities' will be neglected, as baubles are by children when they are deadly sick.

"But that alone is true faith, which makes us to love God, to do his will, to suffer his inflictions, to trust his promises, to see through a cloud, to overcome the world, to resist the devil, to stand in the day of trial, and to be comforted in all our sorrows. This is that precious faith, so mainly necessary to be insisted on, that by it we may be the sons of the free woman; that the true Isaac may be in us, which is Christ according to the Spirit; the wisdom and power of God; a Divine vigor and life, whereby they are enabled with joy and cheerfulness to walk in the way of God.

"There are but three things that make the integrity of Christian faith—believing the words of God; confidence in his goodness; and keeping his commandments."