“And the apostles said unto the Lord, increase our faith.”—Luke 18:5
Did the apostles need so to pray? Then well may I. Oh! thou great author and finisher of our faith! I would look up to thee, with thankfulness, that thou hast granted even the smallest portion of faith to so unworthy a creature as I am. Surely, my soul, it is as great a miracle of grace that my God and Saviour should have kindled belief in thy stony heart, amidst all the surrounding obstructions of sin and Satan which lay there, as when the miraculous fire from heaven, in answer to the prophet’s prayer, came down and consumed the wetted sacrifice. I praise thee, my God and King, this day, in the recollection of this unspeakable, unmerited mercy. And though this faith in my heart still be but as a grain of mustard seed; though it be but as a spark in the ocean; though it be but as the drop of the dew, in comparison of the river; yet, blessed, precious Jesus! still this is faith, and it is thy gift. And is it not a token of thy favour? Is it not an earnest of the Holy Spirit, and a pledge of the promised inheritance? Babes in faith, as well as the strong in the Lord, are equally thine; for it is said that “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed; “(Acts xiii. 48.) “and to as many as believed, thou gavest power to become the sons of God. “So it is by thyself blessed Redeemer, and not by the strength or weakness of the faith of thy people, their justification before God the Father is secured. Precious is that scripture which tells us, that by thee all that believe, whether great faith or little faith—”all that believe, are justified from all things. “Acts xiii. 39. But, my soul, while the consciousness of thy possessing the smallest evidences of faith in thy beloved, gives thee a joy unspeakable and full of glory, dost thou not blush to think what ungrateful returns thou art making to thy Redeemer in the littleness of thy faith in such a God and Saviour? Whence is it that thine affections are so warm in a thousand lesser things, and so cold towards Jesus? Whence that his holy word thou so often hearest as though thou heardest not? Whence the ordinances of Jesus’s house, the promises of his scriptures, the visits of his grace; whence these pass again and again before thee, and thou remainest so cold and lifeless in thy affections? Whence that the temptations of Satan, the corruptions of thine heart, the allurements of the world, gain any influence upon thee? Whence that thou art so anxious about things that perish; about any thing, about nothing, deserving to be called interesting; whence so seldom at the court of the heavenly King, where thou oughtest to be found daily, hourly, waiting; and whence, under trials, or the want of answers at a mercy-seat, fretful, impatient, and misgiving—whence all these, and numberless other evils, but from the weakness and littleness of thy love to Jesus, thy trust in Jesus, thy dependance upon Jesus, and thy communion with Jesus? All, all arise out of this one sad cause, my soul, thine unbelief. Jesus, Master, look upon me, put the cry with earnestness in my heart, that I may unceasingly, with the apostles’ prayer, be sending forth this as the first and greatest petition of my whole soul —”Lord, increase my faith. “
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."