24 November 1765

Lecture 19

The Lord Jesus Christ is the great immediate object of our faith. We are next to consider what it is to believe in him. A question of great importance – for unless we believe we cannot be saved.
There have been many disputes about faith in Christ, but it signifies neither more nor less than to trust in him and him alone for salvation – such a persuasion of His power and grace as engages our confidence, love and obedience to His revealed will.
But though faith is soon described, the attainment of it is not so easy. It is something as much beyond the power of man, as to fly in the air. It is wrought by the mighty operation of God. He who commanded light to shine out of darkness, can shine into our hearts to give the knowledge of his glory in the person of Jesus Christ. All men have not faith, yea but few, for:
1. To them that believe Christ is precious, and that on various accounts:
  1.1 For His own personal excellency 
    The knowledge of Christ in a natural man is like the knowledge a blind man has of the sun. He has heard that there is a sun, and he will not deny it. But he never saw it, and therefore knows nothing of its glorious brightness.
  1.2 For their absolute need of him
    They see they must have perished without him, yea must perish still, unless he is pleased to keep and guide and guard them all their way, and water them every moment.
But few have this conviction. They know not what a breach sin has made. They know not their helplessness. They are blinded by Satan, who hides this glorious light from them and jeeps them in darkness as noon day.
2. All who believe in Christ walk as he walked (1 John 2:6). [1]
  But many who profess to believe in him, seem to study to walk as contrary to him and his precepts as they can, and live willingly in the practice of those works of the devil which he came to destroy. But in vain it is to call him Lord, Lord, unless you do the things which he says. So he has told us in his Word now, so he will tell presumptuous sinners to their faces in the great day.
Would you know if you have true faith?  If you have, then:
1. You have been convinced of the sin of your unbelief.
  This is not thought of till the Spirit of God speaks to the heart. If you can think faith easy, if you suppose you always believed, if you do not feel a hard conflict to maintain faith, you are not at all acquainted. Those who indeed believe, are daily crying, Lord, help my unbelief.
2. You have renounced all dependence upon your own works and your own power.
  Whatever you thought yourself once, you now think yourself nothing. You know that you neither have nor can have any wisdom, strength or righteousness, but from Jesus.
3. The great desire of your souls, is to be conformable to your Saviour.
  You want not only to escape hell as a place of torment, but to have those holy dispositions which are suited to a heavenly state. Sin is your burden – indwelling sin makes you groan. You long for spirituality and blush and are ashamed that you love the Lord so little, and serve him so poorly.
4. This is evidenced in some measure by your conversation.
  Do not think you have true faith, if you can take pleasure in the company of vain persons, if you can delight in those places, and meetings where the name of God is customarily profaned, and his commandments broken. These things can never stand together. True faith not only shows the necessity of avoiding these things, but makes them distasteful and tiresome. The man whom the Word of God pronounces blessed, walks not in the way of sinners. Psalm 1. [2]
Examine yourselves by such marks as these. They are taken from the Word by which you must be judged; be not deceived, for God cannot, will not be mocked; – what you sow, you must reap. How dreadful will it be, to live in vain presumption of faith, and at last perish with a lie in your right hand.
If, as I hope, some are desirous of this precious faith, to you I would offer a few things:
1. Faith is the gift of God, and Jesus is exalted to bestow it.
  Hence he is called the author of it. Hebrews 12[:2]. [3] This is encouragement for you, for he has said, Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find. Believe this promise first, and stir yourself up to prayer.
2. Faith comes by hearing.
  The preached Gospel is the ordinary means appointed to produce faith in the hearts of sinners (Romans 10:14–17). [4] This is farther encouragement. The Lord saw you perishing for want of faith, and has sent his Gospel to you – prize it and attend it and you shall do well.
3. The beginnings of faith are small and not immediately perceived –
  like a little seed buried in the ground, or leaven hid among the meal. Who knows but this precious seed, this spiritual leaven, may be already in your hearts. It is certain that none can truly desire grace, till the Lord has given them grace first. If you then feel a hungering and thirsting after faith, are convinced that you cannot work it in yourself, and that you will be miserable without it, you have already something to be thankful for. Praise the Lord – that you live in a day of grace – that you have the means of grace – that you feel a desire after grace. And wait upon him in hope. He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax; he will not despise the day of small things. To use the means, in dependence on the mercy of God through Jesus Christ, to give us a blessing in them, is the very faith I have been speaking of. The Lord increase it in all our hearts.


1. 1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
2. Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
3. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
4. Romans 10:14–17 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Cowper & Newton Museum

Marylynn Rouse, 06/11/2018