Imatges de pÓgina



Heb. xi. 1-40. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; estreming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with

them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets; who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy;) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

IN the opening of the sixth chapter, as you may remember, the apostle passed over the more plain and fundamental doctrines of christianity with a view to consider some points of a higher and more difficult character. You may also recollect that faith was one of the "first principles" which he then omitted to discuss. But having gone through with the investigation of those deep and difficult things, and having several times had occasion to speak of faith, particularly in the conclusion of the last chapter, he now sets himself to define and illustrate this great law of salvation.

The remarks of Paul on this point are particularly deserving of attention. It is the only place in the Bible where a definition of this important matter is attempted. It is one of the grandest passages in the word of God. The select gems of the Old Testament history are here brought together like apples of gold in baskets of silver. It is a sacred portrait gallery, where the noblest of ancient worthies are pictured to our view just in the act of performing their noblest deeds. It is a christian manual, where the whole substance of our religion is compressed into a little compass accompanied with the grandest illustrations of its dignity and power, all prepared to the believer's hand. The followers of Christ need only look into it anywhere, and they will find food and strength, and have their souls fired with renewed zeal by the illustrious examples here set before them. No one can thoughtfully look upon the bust of Socrates and not feel an increased reverence for pure philosophy; or upon those of Demosthenes and Cicero without feeling an aspiration in his bosom to possess the magic wand of eloquence; or upon that of Washington without having his heart to beat with patriotic feeling and a warm love of genuine liberty. No

more can the christian look upon these pictures of the faith and greatness of the ancient worthies without having his respect for religion increased, and his soul animated with the glorious purpose, living and dying, to believe in God.

The plan which has been uniformly pursued in this course of lectures, forbids, that minute examination of the circumstances of the various individual examples of the text to which we are so enticingly invited. I propose therefore in this discourse, merely to present a general view of what is contained in this chapter. In the succeeding one I will take up, and develop one of the many illustrious characters here presented.

You have observed from the reading of the text, that faith is the great subject of it. Theologians speak of different kinds of faith. 1st. There is what is called a historical faith, which is a simple assent to the truths of revelation, and may be found in unregenerated men. It receives this name, not because its object is limited to the histories of Scripture, for it comprehends also the doctrines; but because it is an assent of the same kind which we give to any credible history whatever. It is a simple act of the understanding. It is a similar operation of mind to that which is produced by a mathematical demonstration. It is the simple concession, that religion is true, without any further concern as to whether it is properly embraced and practiced or not.

2nd. There is also what is called a temporary faith. This consists in such a persuasion of the truths of religion as is accompanied with some impression upon the conscience and affections. Such was the faith of the stony ground hearers, in whom the seed hastily sprung up, but soon withered away. It has no root. It does not proceed from an enlightened and renewed heart. When persecutions assail it, it dies; and if through favorable circumstances it continues through life, death will utterly extinguish it.

3d. There is also what is called the faith of miracles. By this is meant a supernatural persuasion of the person that God would by him, or for him perform some miracle. Christ spoke of this when he said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove;" and also when he said to the blind men, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" This faith was doubtless confined to particular persons and a particular age of the church.

4th. There is also what is called saving or justifying faith; because by it the salvation offered in the Gospel is received and enjoyed. It is that faith which is described as relating particularly to the Messiah as its object. These however, are nice theological distinctions very convenient for some purposes, but to which I will pay no further attention.

Faith is one of the plainest and most common exercises of the human mind. It is as familiar to the mind as the hand is to the body. Nor are their provinces greatly dissimilar. The hand is the physical instrument by which we lay hold of physical objects; faith is the intellectual instrument with which we lay hold of objects which the mind only can perceive. In its simplest nature, it is belief of testimony. Testimony may be presented to the mind in various ways, and its objective range takes in the entire universe. The five senses are so many sources of testimony to what comes under their cognizance. Memory is also a source of testimony. To the same extent then that any one credits his own senses—or his memory, he exercises faith.

But what is the subject of consciousness and observation has sometimes been called knowledge, to distinguish it from what is ap prehended merely upon the declarations of others, though in reality it is faith. What is commonly meant by testimony, is the declaration of a witness. So far then as we place any reliance upon the statements of others, so far do we exercise faith. And this is the most simple, common, and constant exercise even of the most skeptical minds. It is not possible for us to estimate how large a majority of the truths which influence our conduct are derived from the testimony of others.

And all faith, whether human or Divine, is essentially the same. It is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It is something which gives unseen things a reality to the mind. None of us have seen London, or Paris, or Calcutta ; yet we all believe that such places exist, and that faith gives them a real existence in our minds-an existence as true as if our own eyes had seen them. Everything else being favorable, we would have no hesitation to set out to visit either place; so perfect is the reality of their existence which faith has given to our minds. Our confidence in the numerous testimonies of travellers and geograph

ers respecting the existence of these cities, becomes proof to usa convincing argument that they really do exist.

The only difference between the christian's faith and the common faith of the world, is in the circumstances of the case, and not in the nature of faith itself. The things which a christian believes, are things which do not come under human observation, things beyond the range of human vision. Some of them relate to the unknown past; some to unknown worlds; and others to the impenetrable future. These things therefore cannot be believed upon human testimony. He alone who exists from the beginning, who fills immensity with his presence, and to whom all things for eternity to come, are known, can testify of the objects of the christian's faith. And God has testified. He has given us a revelation, written by holy men of old who spake and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. To that revelation alone are we indebted for those truths which are the proper objects of religion. From it we have derived the knowledge of that character of God with which we as sinners are concerned. His love and forgiving mercy, and his plan of saving the guilty, are subjects upon which nature and reason are silent. And as to a future state, though the heathen had some obscure notion of it, derived doubtless from tradition more than reasoning, it is clear that without revelation we should not have the faintest idea of the heaven of christianity, and should know nothing concerning the means by which admission into it is obtained.

The faith of the Gospel then, is the hearty assent which is given to the revelation which God has made. It of course includes the concurrence of the heart and the conviction of the understanding. In other words, to give you a practical definition, one which you can all understand and easily remember. Christian faith, in its whole extent, is taking God at his word. When he says, "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other Gods before me;" it is for us to look upon and reverence him as the only true and living God. When he says of Christ, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him;" it is for us to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive and observe whatsoever he may teach us. And so in regard to his declarations concerning a resurrection from the dead -a final judgment-and everlasting rewards and punishments, it is for us to receive them as true, and to live as candidates for an immortality of happiness or woe. This is faith. And this is "the

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