Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
I. The first instructions in Christian knowledge inform us of THE IMPORTANCE AND NECESSITY OF FAITH TO OUR ETERNAL HAPPINESS. We are assured that the just shall live by faith; and that without it it is impossible to please God.
1. It seems absolutely essential to the nature, and necessary to the design and success of a Divine revelation, that the messenger of it should, upon producing sufficient evidence and proper attestations from Heaven, insist upon an acknowledgment of its truth, as proceeding from that Being who cannot deceive His creatures, whose admonitions would not be offered but for our advantage, and whose authority cannot be disobeyed without danger.
2. The principal reason why faith is so indispensably required and declared to be the condition of salvation is because it is the surest principle of holiness, the basis of obedience, the natural foundation of universal virtue. If, for instance, we believe in our hearts, and are persuaded of the existence of a God, supremely powerful, wise, and good, possessed of every conceivable and possible perfection, we cannot but reverence and adore a nature so infinitely superior; and every sentiment of our heart must pay homage to Him. If we apprehend Him to be the original of good, the fountain of mercy, we shall be naturally led to acknowledge His goodness in all the expressions of worship, praise, submission, and obedience. If we believe that He sent His Son into the world to purchase, on certain conditions, the pardon of our sins, and an eternity of happiness; we must think ourselves obliged to obey the precepts of His doctrine, to imitate the examples of His life, to comply with the conditions required, and be grateful for so amazing an expression of mercy.
II. I SHALL NOW PROCEED TO OFFER SOME OBSERVATIONS SUGGESTED BY THE PRECEDING DOCTRINE.
1. If faith be the ground of holiness we may hence learn the reason of the general prevalence of iniquity in the world; which is a want of faith, or want of attention to the objects of it.
2. If faith he subservient to holiness, and derive its value from its efficacy and influence on our manners, we may hence learn to estimate the intrinsic value of every doctrine, and to weigh the degrees of malignity and danger in particular errors. Doctrines are valuable in proportion to their moral importance, or subservience to virtue; in proportion to their influence in inclining us to preserve in our minds a constant sense of our dependence on our Maker, and of the duties we owe Him, and of our obligations to observe integrity, and justice, and equity, and charity, in all our dealings.
3. If the design of faith was to lead us to the practice of all righteousness let us not rest our hopes of salvation on a bare acknowledgment or belief of the gospel, in an ineffectual barren faith, productive of no virtue, but let our faith have its proper influence; let our manners correspond with our principles, and let us live as we believe.
(G. Carr, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.