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laid from the beginning by the wisdom and grace of God.
The Church is said indeed to be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.” It is only in a subordinate sense, however, that they are the foundation, as they organized the Christian Church, and declared, under the teaching of the Divine Spirit, the doctrine on which we all rest for salvation. But in a stricter and more important sense, in his own person and nature, Jesus Christ is not only the chief corner-stone, chosen of God, elect and precious, but the great rock, underlying and supporting with almighty strength, the whole structure of the Church, of all countries and of all ages — apostles, martyrs, prophets, patriarchs, from the beginning of the world, praise him as their glorious and only foundation.
But while there is a part of the work which we cannot and need not do, every man has a work to do, for the right performance of which he acts on his own responsibility, and to his own eternal gain or loss. As he loves his own soul therefore, let him take heed how he does it. He must both discover and use what God has graciously provided. He must first find the true foundation, and then make it his own, by building on it.
If he select the wrong foundation--if he mistake a sandy hillock for a solid rock, or if despising all
thought of danger, he decline a close examination of the spot, then no matter with what pains or expense he carries up the work —no matter with what beauty of architecture or costliness of materials, with what satisfaction to himself or admiration of others-woe to him, he and his work must perish. Or if, again, he find the right foundation, let him not think that he is safe until he is actually upon it.
Nor let any man, whether building for himself, or teaching others how to build, imagine that he may consult his own taste and convenience in the choice of materials, or in the manner of their erection. Here, too, he needs wisdom and grace from on high, or he may commit errors which shall result in loss and hazard, if not destruction, to himself, and may be both hazardous and destructive to others, who, misled by his example and influence, fail even in finding the true foundation. “Let every man take heed how he builds thereupon;" whether with solid and enduring substances, such as “gold, silver, precious stones,” or with “wood, hay, stubble," or whatever material cannot bear the heat of the fires that shall consume the world. “For the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” He may be saved, indeed, though
scorched and scarred, and “ scarcely saved,” but his whole work must perish.
These opening remarks will convey some general idea of the nature and plan of this volume. If it were a sermon, we might announce as our text the prophetic declaration, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste."* From this it will be perceived we have borrowed our title, and though we may seldom refer to its precise language, we shall not depart far from the train of thought which it suggests. A few chapters will relate to this great and sure foundation for our faith. Under this division of our subject we shall consider the existence and rightful authority over all creatures of that infinite Being, in whose eternal, wise and merciful counsels this foundation originated; the Divine origin of that blessed volume in which it is revealed; and then, the foundation itself, as it is laid for our faith and hope in the infinite wisdom, power and grace, and in the complete satisfaction and prevailing intercession of the incarnate Son of God.
The remainder of our work will treat of the right mode of building on this foundation, or of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we will successively notice the production of faith in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement which every one who hears the Gospel has to believe it with reference to the salvation of his own soul; and then the nature of faith, and the several distinct exercises of the mind or heart, of which it is composed; and finally, its glorious and natural results of peace and holinessthe deliverance of the creature from the power and pollution as well as from the guilt and fear of sin.
* Isaiah 28: 16.
Great will be our reward, if any, however few, shall be induced by reading these pages, to forsake all vain confidences and delusive hopes, and to build on this only true foundation; or, if any, who are now walking in darkness, because they do not understand the nature of that faith which is their privilege and duty, shall be brought into the light of God's countenance.
Let it not be thought presumption that we attempt to do what has been so often and so ably done. We feel that we have an inexhaustible subject, and one that may be profitably treated many times more, with the hope that these great truths, presented in new forms, may interest some one as yet uninterested, or establish some one not yet perfectly established in the faith of the Gospel. It is the great work which God has given us to do; the greatest work he ever gave man to do, from the beginning of the world; at all times and by all means, in season and out of season, to point out to the sinful, suffering, and dying, the way of life, peace, and holiness, through Jesus Christ.
Reader, are you sure that you have found that way? Are you sure that you are walking in it? Are you sure that you shall never lose sight of it? Though you may be tolerably familiar with these things, may you not possibly obtain views of truth and duty which shall strengthen and comfort your soul, in some of those dark and cloudy days to which we are all liable? Though you may now have a clear view of Christ as your own almighty and eternal Redeemer, the time may come, when you will not regret whatever little confirmation your hopes have received from the companionship and experience of even the least of the little ones that believe in Christ.
Very few have attained a settled joy and peace in believing. Very many have not put forth the first act of true faith in Christ. It cannot then be unnecessary, to repeat again and again even the first principles of the oracles of God, and to invite and urge every one within reach of our persuasions, to build with confidence on this safe and sure foundation.