Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts…
I. WHAT IS FAITH? I answer, it is a firm persuasion of the truth of the gospel, accompanied with a deep sense of its importance, and a cordial acceptance of its gracious proposals; and so producing the genuine fruits of love and obedience. We have heard the gospel. Have we believed it? Have we received it in the love of it? and are our hearts and lives influenced and governed by it?
II. To speak of THE SALVATION PROMISED TO THEM THAT BELIEVE.
1. A salvation from moral evil.
2. A salvation from natural evil. Not that good men are exempted from the common afflictions of life. But they are converted into blessings for them, and they are provided with all needful supports under their afflictions.
3. A deliverance also from penal evil
III. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FAITH AND SALVATION. It is necessary, in order to our being saved, that we believe. Now this necessity arises out of the Divine appointment, and the reason and nature of the thing.
1. It is the will of God, that those who are saved should believe.
2. There is a fitness or suitableness in faith to the end of its appointment, so that the necessity of it arises out of the nature of the thing itself. No sober man who contemplates faith, accompanied with those dispositions and affections necessary to constitute a real Christian, can pronounce it an unreasonable and useless thing. And how is that good to be possessed without a temper of heart suited to the enjoyment of it? And how is this temper to be acquired but by believing? Thus have we considered the nature of faith, described the salvation promised to it, and shown the connection between the one and the other. Let us now return to the argument in the text. Satan clearly perceiving the influence of faith in the great business of salvation, and well knowing, too. that faith comes by hearing, uses all his artifices to divert men's attention from the Word, and to prevent its salutary effect upon their hearts.It now remains that we make two or three reflections on the general subject of this discourse.
1. If Satan takes the measures you have heard to prevent the success of the gospel, and to confirm men in impenitence and unbelief, how truly is he denominated by our Saviour "the wicked one," and how righteous is that sentence which will shortly be executed upon him!
2. How much is it to be lamented that men will suffer themselves to be deceived and ruined by the devices of this great adversary!
3. And lastly, Let us admire and adore the grace of God which defeats the designs of Satan, and makes the Word effectual upon the hearts of multitudes, notwithstanding all the opposition it meets with.
(S. Stennett, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.