Page images
PDF
EPUB

eye of faith, and accordingly he made his preparations and was safe.

Take the next example ;--Abraham. 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 promised Abraham a country. He told him nothing as to where that country lay ; "a land that I will shew thee,” that was all the description which the Almighty gave of it. Canaan was a thing unseen.

Yet Abraham at once obeyed the call which bade him leave his father's house : forthwith he arose, and went out from his home and kindred, acting just as firmly, and with as much confidence and determination, as though he already saw the promised inheritance, and beheld his way all open to the possession of it.

There again was faith: the taking God's word and acting unhesitatingly upon it. Abraham felt as sure of the promised inheritance as though he already had it in possession.

Another instance of faith, the Apostle brings from this Patriarch's history. “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."

God engaged to Abraham that he should be the father of many nations. Moreover He told him how this should be: that it should be through Isaac. Isaac's descendants were the promised

seed. Yet, after a while, what does God require ? He requires Abraham to put Isaac to death ; the very child in whom the promises were to be accomplished. How does Abraham act ? He at once complies. So far as he was concerned, Isaac was offered up.

And there again appeared his faith. God's word, he knew, could not fail. He had only to do as God commanded. To slay Isaac did indeed appear to be the very thing which would blight all his hopes, and prevent the fulfilment of the divine promises.

• Nevertheless,' said the patriarch, duty is mine, events are God's: I will obey : Jehovah will yet do all for which He has pledged himself.' And so, by this implicit submission to God's command, this ready surrender of his dearest treasure at the Lord's bidding, Abraham shewed how thoroughly he trusted God, and how firmly he was convinced that what Jehovah had said would be made good. He saw not how; but the thing which he could not see he yet believed, and therefore he acted as he did.

So we might go on to multiply our examples of faith from the chapter before us : and in all we should mark the same great point brought out : we should see that faith, the faith which the Apostle speaks of in our text, is no idle thing, no mere notion, no speculative opinion, no barren theory; it is a practical concern, a matter that has to do with the whole of a man's life and conduct; it at once leads to action; being such a persuasion of the truth of God's word,

a

as to things not seen, that we proceed to behave just as though the things were seen. Noah built his ark, just as though he saw the flood already rising. Abraham left his house, just as though he saw Canaan already open before him : and he offered up his son, just as though he saw that son's promised seed already born. This then is the main lesson of instruction which St. Paul was intending to teach. He meant to shew the peculiar character of real faith, that it is a principle of action. Precisely as St. James declares, “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead.” All true faith lives, and because it lives, it acts in practical results.

Thus far we have spoken of what faith is. Let us pause to apply this part of the subject to our

What is our faith ? Christian faith? wherein does it consist ? and how will it appear?

You will note in those examples of Noah, and of Abraham, and indeed in all the rest throughout the chapter, that there was some one thing, a thing not seen as yet, which in every several case was placed before the mind of particular individuals, placed before them on the authority of God's word; and whatever that unseen thing might be, their faith lay in the realising of it to themselves, so as to guide their conduct.

Now just so is it with us. The faith which we profess as Christians is exactly this. And I would say, we may take again the examples of Noah, and of Abraham, and may see much to explain, by way of analogy, what our faith is to be: what it is we have to believe.

own case.

Thus Noah was forewarned, that Almighty God, the Maker and Governor of the world, being infinitely just and holy, could no longer bear the sight of man's iniquity ; and that, in consequence, a terrible judgment would ere long burst upon a guilty race to their destruction. Moreover he was mercifully instructed how to escape that judgment. The ark was to be his refuge, his salvation. He built it, and was saved.

Brethren, what is the grand matter of divine revelation, as addressed to us ? Is it not this ? That we all have sinned against God our Maker, that his wrath is rising against sin, that soon a tremendous judgment must come down on every soul that doeth evil, that a deluge of eternal indignation is impending.

But, thanks be to His holy name, more than this is revealed. There is an ark. There is salvation. There is pardon for sin. There is escape from wrath, . There is a way of reconciliation with God. Jesus the Son of God hath wrought the salvation for us. He came from heaven, He clothed himself in flesh, He took our place, He obeyed all that law which we had broken, He suffered all that curse our sin had merited, and now He stands before God, the Advocate for sinners, even for all who feel their guilt, and see their danger, and fain would have deliverance from sin, and would crave the mercy of their God :--for all such, the salvation of Christ is prepared, and they, fleeing to Jesus, are in the ark eternally secure.

« PreviousContinue »