Imatges de pÓgina
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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 ineludes 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

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 be 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

substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." It gives to all the invisible truths of revelation a real existence in our minds, and enables us to act in regard to them as if they were present and seen with naked eyes. We do not see the things of eternity. We do not see God, or heaven, or angels, or the redeemed in glory, or the crowns of victory, or the harps of praise; but our faith, our taking God at his word, enables us to act as if we saw them. They thus receive a real subsistence in our minds. This faith becomes a convincing argument to the mind that these things have a real existence. This confi. dence in the Divine declarations becomes evidence to us of the reality of them, more satisfactory and conclusive than even the deductions of our own reason; and hence the believer feels and acts as if all the realities of eternity were spread around him and open to his view.

By way of proof then, that this is a correct definition of faith, as well as to give it a more clear and full illustration, I will now proceed to notice the examples adduced by the apostle in the text.

1st. He refers to the work of creation as a thing known to us only by faith. “By 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.” This was purely a thing of Divine revelation. There is no profane history, or no tradition which goes back to such a remote period, to bring us this information. Nor is the human mind able to reason it out. Philosophers have tried it, but could not raise their natural conceptions to that sublime notion of creative power that could produce worlds out of nothing. The Peripatetics held that the world was ciernal, Democritus and his followers that it was formed by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, the Epicureans that it was made by chance, while those who ascribe to it a beginning in time, knew not by what gradations nor in what manner, the universe was raised into its pre sent beauty and order. It was for God alone to give a true account of the work of creation. By believing then, that the worlds were fornved by the word of God out of nothing, we furnish an example of faith; and that faith, is taking God at his word.

2nd. “ 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.” Jehovah had doubtless revealed to our first parents the possibility of salvation from the fall by expia

tory sacrifices, and directed that sacrifices should be made for that purpose as types of the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Abel complied with this direction, and “ brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof." But Cain, having no faith in sacrifices, “ brought of the fruit of the ground." Here then in Abel was an instance of faith, and the amount of it was, that he took God at his word. Hence “the Lord had respect unto Abel, and unto his offering.”

3d. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him.” Enoch, according to Jude, was a preacher. It is said that he foretold the coming of the Lord to Judgment; alluding probably to his coming in the flood, and in type to his final and personal coming. Ile no doubt fully believed what he preached, and lived accordingly. Here then was an example of faith, and that faith was taking God at his word.

4th. “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.” The nature of his faith, you perceive, was confidence in the Divine declarations—taking God at his word.

5th. “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.” God called out Abraham from his native country, his kindred, and his father's house, and promised him a land of peace and plenty for an everlasting possession--a seed, in numbers equal to the sands on the seashore or the stars in multitude—and a mission of blessing and glory to all the nations of the earth. In obedience to the Divine voice the patriarch set out, sojourned as a pilgrim and stranger in the land of the Canaanite, and went childless until hoary hairs were upon him. Here was faith, faith counted to him for righteousness, and the whole amount of it was taking God at his word.

6th. “Through faith also Sarah herself,” who at first laughed, with incredulity in the Divine message, " received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” She believed the declaration of her God; and “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 sea-shore innumerable."

7th. And so with Isaac when he blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” God had declared unto him that he would perform the oath which he sware unto Abraham. Isaac took God at his word, and hence pronounced upon his children the blessing of future good. And this was his faith.

8th. And in the same way “by faith Jacob, when he was a dy. ing, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, bowing upon the top of his staff.”

9th. And with the same confidence in the Divine word, “ Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones.” And so Moses, and Rahab, and Gedeon, and Barak, and Sampson, and Jephtha, and David, and Samuel, and the prophets; who “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.” And so “women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection."

You see then that faith, even the great law of salvation in all ages, is nothing more nor less than taking God at his word. It is not a mere speculation. It comprehends something more than the simple assent of the mind to certain propositions, and the mere conviction of the understanding of their truth. It is a practical and voluntary thing. Argument may convince us that the Bible is the word of God, and that all its statements are true, and its demands just; and yet we may not act upon those declarations, or render the obedience which is required. To take God at his word, as has been abundantly shown in the examples of the text, is the setting of the whole heart to proceed upon all the declarations, and to do all the commandments which are contained in it. Any one who believes in such a way as to act in accordance with it, and who al. lows his affections to be governed by his belief, is a true christian, and possesses the genuine faith which saves the soul. He that hath this lively working faith in all that God revealed to man, has the germ

of eternal life in his heart, which is destined to grow, and

expand, and finally triumph over death, and flourish in the undecaying and unwearying vigor and glory of the redeemed. And he who has it not, is yet in sins, and gall, and blood; and the wrath of God abideth on him.

Let me here then, my brethren, present a simple test by which you may determine the genuineness of your faith. Have you made your calculations according to the word of God, and are you endeavoring sincerely to live in obedience to its commandments? The Bible declares you are a sinner, and that you must repent in order to be saved ; have you then bemoaned and abandoned your wickedness? It declares that you must shortly die, and be called to judgment, and have your everlasting portion assigned you in accordance with your conduct here; have you then prepared to meet

your God?

.“ If he who has firm faith
The morrow's sun shall rise, orders affairs
Accordingly; if he, who has firm faith
That spring and summer, and autumnal days,
Shall pass away, and winter really come,
Prepares accordingly; if he, who sees
A bolt of death approaching, turns aside
And lets its pass ;-as surely does the man,
Who verily believes the word of God,
Though erring whiles, its general laws obey,
Turn back from hell, and take the way to heaven.”

and you

And if you have not been led into a course like this, if you have not repented of your sins and set your hearts to keep the commands of God as far as you can and know, whatever be your reverence for the Bible and religion, there is something defective in your faith,

have no right to hope for those joys which are in reserve for the righteous. Let me urge it upon you then to make sure work of this matter. A mistake here must be fruitlessly lamented amid the anguish of quenchless flames. “ Examine yourselves whether

ye be in the faith ; prove your own selves.” When on this subject, the question often presents itself, and may have arisen in the minds of some who hear me, why was this faith, of which we hear so much, made the great and absolute condition of salvation? This is an inquiry which deserves some notice, and in answer to which I have a few remarks.

1st. There are but two conceivable ways in which truth can be brought to affect the mind; viz. by knowledge, and by faith. By

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