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INTRODUCTION.

CHRISTIAN FAITH.

“ Ye believe in God, believe also in me."

The end of human existence on earth is improvement, moral growth, progress towards spiritual perfection. Trouble, as one of the means conducive to this end, is an essential part of the system under which we live. It is therefore a manifestation of divine beneficence, a proof of the interest that the Father takes in us, not a ground of complaint or distrust. The question which we need to solve is this,-how can the outward trouble be so received that it shall not disturb the feelings which we carry within us—how shall the mirror of the breast be saved from reflecting the images of disaster? To this question Jesus has pointed out the only answer in those memorable

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words which he addressed to his disciples in view of his separation from them : “Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Christian faith it is which will enable us to preserve serenity amidst all changes of condition. We may be patient and calm, even more, may be thoughtful of improvement, and successful in its acquisition, whilst the severest calamities are proving their own impotency and our strength, if we have this safeguard and solace. Christian faith can sustain us, comfort us, guide us, when every thing else would be ineffectual for either of these purposes, and might only aggravate our distress. Let this faith abide in the soul, and no acquaintance with disappointment can render it distrustful or perverse.

The Christian believes, therefore he is tranquil, submissive, steadfast in duty, therefore he makes progress when other men are thrown back, therefore his character, like the stars seen in the high latitudes of the earth, shines brightest over a scene of desolation.

This faith is indispensable to man's relief. He cannot do without it. His heart will be troubled, tempest-tost, overwhelmed, if he have

it not. What can take its place? What can anticipate its offices of support and comfort ? Sympathy may proffer its condolence, and soften the pangs over which it grieves; but it can neither heal the wounded affections nor revive the down-stricken hopes. Philosophy may repeat its maxims drawn from long observation of life, and utter the counsels of wisdom; but they fall on the heart like the boastings of health on a sick man's ear, who feels that they but remind him of his distemper. Even the world may intrude, and invite the troubled soul to forget its griefs among the excitements of business or society ; but the invitation grates harshly on the sensibilities, and seems rather like insult than condolence.

When external sources of alleviation thus evince their insufficiency, if the soul which has not learned the lessons of faith turns in upon itself, what does it find to give it peace? No habit of resignation, no temper of acquiescence, no confidence in a love more far-sighted than its own, no hope of a richer good which shall issue from the disappointment, as the more abundant stream from the earth in which it seemed to be lost. All within is sad, while all without

is distasteful; and if the sentiment, whether of passionate sorrow or of sullen endurance, which occupies the heart, were expressed in words, it would probably vent itself in abuse of life and crimination of God. Such is man's need of faith.

But what is this faith, which can render the invaluable service that in time of trouble we shall in vain seek elsewhere? Our Master presents it under a two-fold aspect,-as faith in God, and faith in his Son.

Faith in God as the Supreme, Eternal, Perfect One, faith in his character and government, in his presence and love, in his purposes and his unchangeableness.

It is faith in the Creator, who has framed the worlds, and filled them with life; who has established the principles which regulate the movements of matter, and the experiences of mind; the Former of the body, by whom this curious and delicate structure was raised from the dust, and who has not only made it subject to change and decay, but has determined the causes which shall work its overthrow, so that not a pain can be felt, nor a vital function cease, but in obedience to laws which sustain

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