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which we are interested in the promises of God; obtain pardon, and a title to eternal glory? Ah, no! my brethren. Many have merely that faith which consists only of a naked assent of the understanding to the truths contained in the scriptures, while the heart is unaffected, and the life unchanged. This faith, which St. James teaches us is possessed even by the devils, and which therefore cannot lead us to heaven, is termed historical faith. By this name, it is not meant that an assent is given only to the historical parts of the scriptures: this assent is bestowed also on the doctrines, the promises, the threatenings of the word of God: but it bears this title because the faith which is thus exercised, is like that which we give to the histories of events in which we have no concern, and by which we are little affected. Oh! how different is it from that justifying faith, which ur es us to Christ; which is the foundation of communion with him ; which animates and purifies the heart, and is the vigorous spring of holiness and spiritual life. Intermediate between historical and justifying faith, is that faith which is called temporary ; unlike the former, it is not a mere cold assent of the mind, but is attended by ardours of soul, by delightful emotions of joy, by some reformation of the life. Unlike the latter, it is not accompanied by regeneration, by the implantation of an abiding principle of holiness, by an interest in the covenant of God, and the righteousness of Jesus.

It is of unspeakable importance to us, my brethren, to understand the nature of this faith. Many have perished for ever, who had hoped for heaven, because they had substituted this for saving faith. Many still upon earth, who are only temporary believers, are expecting future glory, while the curse


of the law impends over their heads. Let us then, search our souls, and see our true characters; and while we are thus employed, may God himself enlighten us, and save us from fatal self-deception. “ Search us, O Lord, and know our hearts; try us, and know our thoughts, and see if there be

in us, and lead us in the way everlasting.”

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Let us,

I. Consider some of the scriptural examples of temporary faith; and,

II. Compare it with justifying faith. I. In the parable of the sower, the character of the temporary believer is strikingly delineated. Indeed, it is from this parable, that the name itself is derived: the Saviour says, (Matt. xiii. 21.) “ he hath no root in himself, but dureth for a while.In the original it is, (*pookarpos esi,) " is temporary.

You recollect that the design of our Redeemer in this parable is to represent four different classes of hearers : the careless; the enthusiastic, deluded, temporary believers; the worldly-minded; and the sincere. The second class are thus described: “ Some seed fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprang up; but because they had no deepness of earth, when the sun was up, they were scorched ; and because they had not root, they were withered away." These words he thus expounds : “ He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy, receiveth it, and for a time believeth: yet he hath not root in himself, but dureth for a while ; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” Nothing can be more precise or accurate than this delineation. These persons are com



pared to stony or rocky ground, totally unfit for the

, purposes of cultivation, and unable to bring forth fruit to maturity. In vain will the husbandman employ his labours, and the rain of heaven descend upon it. It is an impenetrable rock, into whieh the seed cannot enter. Nevertheless, over this rock is cast some rich and luxuriant mould or earth, which receives the seed, nourishes it for a time, and causes it to put on the most promising appearance; but which has so little depth, that though the seed suffers no detriment while the refreshing dew is on the earth, yet it withers and dies so soon as the sun rises and shines upon

it with force. This rock is the unrenewed heart, averse to God and holiness, indisposed to all that is good. The scriptures in a thousand places use this emblem to denote its hardness and insensibility, till it is changed by the Spirit of grace. This luxuriant earth, spread on the surface of the rock, receiving the seed, causing it to expand and produce a beautiful and promising, but transient and inefficacious verdure, finely represents those lively and impetuous passions, that are easily moved by the objects of religion, and that produce effects which, though they are in reality, but the glows and ardours of natural feeling, yet so nearly resemble many exercises of real piety as to be often mistaken for these exercises by these persons themselves, and by others. You see then, their character. Their depraved wills and unsanctified hearts render the instructions of the gospel of no avail to them; yet their warm imaginations and lively passions are so easily impressed, and so powerfully moved, that the best effects would be produced, were there only a principle of solid piety in the soul. Such is the great outline of their character: what is their conduct? “ They receive the


word;" or, as St. Luke expresses it, “ they believe for a season.” Unlike the infidel, who rejects with disdain the messages of heaven; unlike the careless hearer, who scarcely deigns to listen to the declarations of God, he gives the assent of his mind to the truths of religion, and his imagination being excited, and his passions inflamed, he displays such earnestness and zeal, while he affirms that he believes us to impose upon himself and others. For after all, this faith, not being wrought by the special operation of the Spirit of God, not being connected with a renewed mind, will profit him nothing. He receives the word, adds the Saviour, “ immediately.Unembarrassed by any doubt, indisposed to inquire, to examine, to compare, without that deep and painful combat, which the believer has to sustain, he is impetuously carried forward, he knows not how or wherefore, and looks with pity and scorn upon those who calmly, steadily, and surely, are advancing in the Christian course. He receives the word, says the Saviour, " with joy." Yes, it is not uncommon to behold these deluded men, indulging in ecstasies and raptures, for which they have no warrant, and which are founded only on natural passions, the illusions of self-love, or the sentiments of pride. It is not uncommon to behold them casting a disdainful eye upon the meek, and lowly, and humble Christian; charging him with hypocrisy and insincerity, and crying, “ Stand at a distance; we are holier than

; thou !" Such is their character and their conduct; they sometimes continue this course till death, and find not, until their error is irretrievable, that they have been deluding themselves with false hopes, and unfounded confidences. But generally they remain not long in the profession of that faith to which they VOL. III.


appeared so devoted.

They have no root within. them;" no solid principle of piety in their hearts; and their passions being exhausted, and their imaginations fatigued, they by and by relapse into their former insensibility. Their goodness, like the early cloud, and the early dew, vanisheth away; they neglect the exercises of religion; they forsake the society of the pious, and substitute the customs, the maxims, and the sentiments of the world, in the place of their former zeal, their boasted confidence, and their solemn professions: or, if persecution for the sake of religion should assail them, instead of thus silently withdrawing, they will openly disavow their Saviour, and laugh at the precepts of piety.


The character of temporary believers, and the high and glittering attainments that they may make, without any real piety, are represented also by Paul, Heb. vi. 4, 5, when he speaks of the deplorable situation of such persons, when they openly apostatized from religion, although they had once" been enlightened, and had tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and had tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come." They were not, it is true, the children of God, through the special operation of the Holy Spirit. Nothing is said in the traits by which they are described, of their saving faith in Christ, nor of their love, nor of their regeneration, nor of their being sanctified by the Spirit, and justified by the righteousness of the Saviour; nor of those other characteris tics which are peculiar and appropriate to the child of God; yet how far had they apparently advanced? They had been enlightened; they knew what were the truths of God; and as they doubted not of the divinity of the scripture, so they were acquainted

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