And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very fraudulent generation…
"Without faith it is impossible to please God," — impossible to do that which is the proper end of our being; in which, if we should fail, it were far better for us that we had never been born. The like is not said of charity, or any other Christian grace, but faith only. Not that we can expect to please God, if any of the ornaments of a meek, gentle, and Christian spirit be wanting in our character; but because there is a peculiar necessity for the addition of faith, which entitles it to this mark of distinction. There is not a single link in the chain of evangelical virtues and graces which can be said to be unnecessary; but that link is necessary above all which is the end of the chain, and which connects it with God Himself. In the text, God complains of the provoking of His sons and daughters, the rebellious seed of Abraham; and He lays all the faults of their character to this capital defect, that they are "children in whom is no faith."
I. THE WANT OF FAITH IN THE PRESENT STATE OF THE CHRISTIAN WORLD.
1. The excessive attention bestowed upon mere earthly and sensible objects. The common phrase "Seeing is believing" is a plain confession that we walk by sight, not by faith. The sum of our creed is this: that the good things of this world are solid and substantial; those of the next world, visionary and chimerical.
2. The prevailing and increasing neglect, of ordinances. This springs out of the faithless and infidel notion that they are not material, that they are mere ceremonies, that there is no virtue in them. Here is a direct denial of faith.
3. The general shyness and reserve which prevails among religious persons. If it cannot be said of us, as of the ungodly and profane, that God is not in all our thoughts, it cannot surely be denied that He is not in all our talk. The want of faith is at the bottom of this. We are not fully persuaded in our own minds, and therefore we feel an awkwardness and reserve in communicating our thoughts to each other.
4. The carelessness and indifference which generally prevails in regard to the sacraments of the Church.
II. WHAT IS THE NATURAL CONCLUSION OF ALL THIS? If the want of faith be the cause of all our disorders, the plain remedy is to go where we may get more faith; to take what little we have, and to throw ourselves at the feet of Christ, saying, "Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief." And your minister, as in all your prayers, will go before you in this likewise. "Lord, increase my faith; that I may, both by my life and doctrine, set forth Thy true and lively Word, and rightly of these solemn things.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.