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“ 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.' v. 8. God commanded Abraham to go out of his country unto another land, and promised to make of him a great nation. Abraham had perfect confidence in God, and so looked upon the thing which he promised, as absolutely certain. This fully accounts for his leaving his kindred, and going out he knew not whither: Simple, childlike faith in God was the principle of his conduct.

The writer, v. 13, clearly exhibits his idea of faith with respect to those servants of God whom he had just mentioned. “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises,” (that is, the good things contained in the promises,) " but having seen ihem afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.” God had at different times, promised them everlasting blessings in the world to come. These promises they fully believed, and confidently expected the blessings promised. They anticipated those blessings with so strong a desire, and so lively a persuasion of their reality, that they might be said to have already embraced them, and begun to enjoy them. Now all this excitement of feeling, and the conduct which flowed from it, was the effect of a cordial belief in the promises of God, and an assured expectation of their accomplishment

The nature and influence of faith appeared eminently in the conduct of Abraham respecting Isaac. v. 17-19. God had promised that in Isaac his seed should be called, and all the families of the earth blessed. On Isaac every thing seemed to depend. If he should die, what would become of the divine promises ? What would become of the caling of Abraham's seed, and the blessing which was to come upon all nations? Yet Abraham had such a belief, so lively and certain a persuasion, that God was true, and would accomplish his word, that he hesitated not, when commanded, to sacrifice Isaac. Why was not Abraham agitated and perplexed with the difficulties, which attended that distressing affair? Why was he not pressed with the various objections which might be urged against the sacrifice of his own son ? Simply, because he had faith. Faith in God answered all objections ; re

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lieved all difficulties. It was enough for Abraham, that God had promised. But how would it be possible for God to fulfil his promise, if Isaac should be slain ? With such a question as this, Abraham gave himself no con

He knew that God had an unfailing resource in himself; that he could do any thing which the case required ; that he could, if necessary, even raise Isaac from the dead; though the idea of a resurrection from the dead was probably a suggestion of Abraham's strong faith, as no such event had ever taken place. Thus the main-spring of action in this whole affair, was faith ; that is, a full confidence in the word of God, and a certain, lively expectation that it would be accomplished, whatever difficulties might stand in the way.

Joseph, at the close of his life, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and commanded that his bones should be carried with them into Canaan, by faith ; that is, because he believed the promise of God respecting that departure, and looked upon it as a reality, a matter of fact,-just as we do now.

We have here an account too of the faith of Moses. He believed the promises of God respecting the deliverance of the Israelites, and the everlasting blessings to be conferred on the faithful in another world. He chose, therefore, to have his lot with his suffering brethren, how much soever it might cost him. The good, which the sure promise of God led him to expect, was, he well knew, infinitely better than all the treasures of Egypt, and infinitely more than an overbalance for all the sufferings to which he might be exposed. He endured as seeing the invisible God, from whom he expected support and deliv

At the close of this interesting account, the inspired writer gives a summary description of the efficacy of faith in various other instances, in the following sublime and moving strain.

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" What shall I say more? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak, and Samson, and Jephthah, and David, and Samuel, and the prophets ; who through faith,that is, animated and borne on by unwavering confidence in God,“ subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

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quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, put 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 imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” What the servants of God did and suffered in all these cases was, by faith. They believed the word of God. They were sensible of his presence. They sought and expected the blessings he had promised. They acted with a view to those blessings, and by anticipation lived upon them. God's everlasting kingdom contained a blessedness so great and precious, that it roused all their desires, and all their efforts; and in pursuit of it hardships and sufferings became light, and the most painful enterprizes easy and delightful. Such was the power of faith.

The chapter to which we have now attended contains, as we have seen, a particular description of the influence of faith,-a description which is very intelligible and impressive, and which can hardly fail to satisfy any attentive reader, as to the exact view which the writer entertained of his subject.

But to cast a still clearer light on this subject, and to illustrate the perfect agreement of the inspired writers respecting it, I shall show that other passages of Scripture exhibit the nature and influence of faith in the same manner.

2 Cor. v. 7. “ For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Faith is here represented as the essential principle of the Christian life. And what this faith is, we readily learn from the connexion. We walk,-not by sight ; that is, we are not influenced in our conduct by a regard to the things which are seen. But we walk by faith ; we look at the things which are not seen ; we are influenced by a regard to spiritual, eternal objects. And how are those unseen, spiritual objects made known, but by the word of God? And how do we look at them, or regard them, so

as to be influenced by them, but by faith ; that is, by cordially believing the word of God?

James i. 6. “ But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." The faith to be exercised in prayer, is here put in opposition to a doubtful, wavering mind, and so must imply a cordial, settled belief in the doctrines and promises of God's word. In Acts xv.

9, Peter represents, that God purified the hearts of Gentile converts, by faith ; that is, by a steady, cordial belief in the truths of the Gospel ; or which is the same thing, by a steady, cordial regard to those invisible, spiritual things, which the word of God reveals.

But it may perhaps be thought, that there is something in evangelical faith, or faith in Christ, essentially different from other kinds of faith; and that the account, which I have given of the nature and influence of faith generally, cannot be received as in any measure satisfactory in relation to this particular instance of it. How far such an opinion has any adequate support, a careful attention to the subject will show.

Faith I have represented to be a firm, cordial belief in the veracity of God in all the declarations of his word ; or, a full and affectionate confidence in the certainty of those things which God has declared, and because he has declared them. Whatever may be the divine testimony, and to whatever object it may relate, faith receives it, and rests upon it. This is its general nature. That most important branch of faith, called Evangelical faith, differs from other instances of faith only in regard to its particular object. The testimony of God, which evangelical faith receives, respects the Saviour. If then you would know what faith in Christ is, in distinction from other exercises of faith ; inquire, what is the testimony of God concerning his Son? What does the Scripture say of his character, his works, his instructions, his atonement, his various offices and blessings ? This testimony respecting Christ is just what faith receives. Determine precisely what this testimony is, and you determine the peculiar character of evangelical faith.

And here we shall readily see how it comes to pass that faith in Christ so often has the sense of affectionate trust, or affiance. The object, which the word of God in this case reveals, and which evangelical faith respects, is obviously, and in the highest degree, werthy of such trust. He is infinitely wise, benevolent, and powerful, and therefore deserves to be trusted by all intelligent beings. He is a glorious, all-sufficient Saviour, and therefore deserves to be trusted in by sinners. Cordial affiance, or trust, is the very disposition in us, which is agreeable to the character and offices of Christ. To admit that there is such a Saviour, and yet to repose no affectionate trust in him, would be a shocking and most criminal inconsistency. Accordingly, this affectionate trust, which always accompanies faith when such is its object, becomes frequently the principal thing signified by the word.

By this principle, you may easily trace out the particular senses, in which the word, faith, is used in various other passages of Scripture. First, see what is the nature of the object, to which faith has respect in the particular case to be considered. Then see what is the temper of mind with which we ought to contemplate that object; or what is the effect it ought to produce upon us. That temper of mind, that proper effect of faith may become the chief thing intended by the word. In some passages, for example, faith is obviously used for conversion to Christianity ; because such conversion is the

proper con sequence of believing the truths of the Gospel.

In other places, faith seems to denote obedience ; because faith respects Christ as a Lawgiver and Ruler, and so directly leads to obedience; and a man who should believe Christ to be such a Ruler, and yet not obey him, would act most inconsistently and perversely.

PRACTICAL REFLECTIONS.

1. We are led to reflect on the general character of false faith. False faith always misapprehends, in one way or another, the meaning of the divine testimony. This is one of its chief faults. The other is, that even where, in speculation, it correctly understands the divine testimony, it is wanting in right feeling.

There is one particular description of faith, which has at times had no small credit in the Christian world, but which is easily proved to be unscriptural and false, by the principles established in the foregoing discussion.

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