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the honor of God is pledged. This declaration may, however, be conveyed to us by human testimony. For example; we are informed by John Baptist, and by the Apostles, that God uttered a voice from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. This declaration is the subject of religious faith, because, by means of credible witnesses, we come to know that it was the declaration of God. Having satisfactory evidence that God declared this truth, we believe it on the ground of his veracity. In whatever way a declaration of God is conveyed to us, our faith in it rests ultimately upon his veracity. This would be perfectly obvious, if we ourselves should hear the divine declaration. And why not, when the same declaration is conveyed to us through the undoubted testimony of others ? , In both cases, we are first satisfied that God made the declaration. We then believe it with a faith which rests on his veracity. Suppose we become acquainted with a doctrine declared by Socrates, Augustinė, or Newton. It is what a man declares ; a man not divinely inspired; a man, not God. Now do we believe it merely because it is declared by such an one ? No. We look for other evidence. But looking for other evidence shows, that we have not perfect confidence in him who makes the declaration.
As the word of God, or the veracity of God in his word, is the ultimate ground of religious faith ; so the word of God is the rule of faith. If in any respect whatever we believe differently from the word of God; we depart from the rule, and cur faith is, in that respect, erroneous. If we believe less than what God reveals, our faith is defective; if more, it has a faulty redundance. The only way to have our faith right, is to conform it exactly to the rule of God's word; taking care, first, to understand the rule correctly, that our faith may not bend to the one side or the other ; secondly, to understand it fully, that our faith may not fall short; thirdly, to restrain the lofty aspirings of reason, and the surmises of curiosity, and to be entirely content with the rule, so that our faith may not overleap its bounds.
Before we touch upon the moral tendency, or the practical influence of faith, it is of material importance to observe, that it implies a right temper of heart; in other words, that it implies affections correspondent with the nature of its various objects. It is generally the manner of Scripture, expressly to designate the particular external action or the action of the understanding which is required, and that only, upon the reasonable supposition of its being always attended with suitable feelings. Intelligent creatures, possessed, as we are, of a moral nature, must understand that moral affection is to accompany every act of obedience, and that, without it, no act of obedience can be acceptable to the Searcher and Sovereign of the heart. To require the action is, by manifest implication, to require a corresponding state of the heart. And when the action is recorded as having been performed, it is understood that the heart accompanied it. God requires us to call upon his name. This, taken in the literal sense, is merely an outward act. But this is not the sense in which it is required. It is evidently required, as an expression of the heart; the heart being understood not only to agree with the devout words uttered by the voice, but to prompt those words. So when the Evangelist gives an account of the great faith of the centurion, he simpl; zilates his words and external actions. Every body understands, that those words and actions were indicative of correspondent feelings. Unless understood in this manner, the narrative amounts to nothing.
The principle I have laid down is obviously applicable to every thing which is spoken of in Scripture as a matter of obligation ; every thing which relates to man, as a. moral agent. If the obligation respects him, as a moral agent; then the performance of the duty required includes the action of the whole man, so far as he is of a moral nature. For example; God says to us, “ hear my word;" hear it. But the duty enjoined is not hearing with the ear merely, the heart being disobedient; but hearing with a right disposition, and right conduct. Again. Christ requires us to receive the sacramental bread and wine in remembrance of him. But merely the outward act of receiving and the exercise of memory do not constitute the duty enjoined. The outward act and the exercise of memory must be accompanied with affections suitable to the nature of what is commemorated. So all Christians understand it. So every thing of the
kind must be understood. And while we have conscience and moral affection, and remember that we are under a moral government, we certainly shall so understand it, whether we are expressly told that we must, or not.
I repeat the position, as of primary importance, that whenever faith is spoken of as a moral virtue, or with regard to its moral influence, we must consider it as implying affections of heart corresponding with the nature of its objects. Such affections must accompany it, and make a part of it, or, in the Scripture sense, it is not faith.
When I say that faith implies affections corresponding with its various objects, it is the same as saying, that faith assumes a character according to the nature of its particular object. If it relates to an object great and awful, it is accompanied with reverence and awe; if to an object that is amiable, it is accompanied with love ; if to a future or absent good, with desire ; if to something hateful, with abhorrence; if to something injurious or dreadful, with fear or dread. Thus faith may be said to revere, to love, to desire, to hate, or to dread, just according to the nature of its particular object.
We shall now consider the practical influence of faith, And before we have done, I think it will be apparent, not only that this influence is very great, but that it results directly and necessarily from the very nature of faith.
In the word of God the most important effects are attributed to faith. It is represented as having an efficacy which moves all the springs of action, and controls the whole man.
Now a little consideration must satisfy us, that it is in its nature perfectly adapted to produce this mighty effect. For, in truth, what is there in the universe, suited to influence the mind or control the actions of man, which does not belong to faith. Those things which God has made known in his word, and which are the objects of faith, are of the highest conceivable moment. Indeed they have an importance infinitely above our comprehension. God has set before us a great and endless good to be obtained ; a great and endless evil to be avoided. And he has set these before us in all the forms, which are adapted to rouse the affections and the offorts of man. Does any one say, that the endless good and the endless evil which God has revealed, come not under our observation ; and then ask, how the existence of such things can certainly be known ? My answer is, Thus saith the Lord. This is the best of all evidence. Other things may deceive me. But God cannot lie. What He says must be truth. Or does any one say, that the things which God has declared in his word, being invisible and distant, cannot excite any strong emotion, or any powerful effort ? This, I admit, is true with regard to those who are governed by sense.
But it is the very nature of faith to give an uncontrollable efficacy to objects invisible and distant. All mụst allow that the things which God has revealed would have a mighty influence upon us, if they were actually visible and present. To faith they are visible. To faith they are present too. Faith removes the distance, and makes them present realities. So that things which are not seen, and things which are to take place thousands of ages hence, excite the same emotions, and have the same practical influence, as though they were actually visible, and actually present. In the exercise of faith, we say of unseen and future things'; they are absolutely certain, because God has declared them. They are equally interesting to us, as if they were present; for they will be present; and we shall experience them and feel them, when happiness will be as dear to us, and misery as dreadful, as they are now. They deserve our regard, therefore, just as though they were present. So that, if the infinite excellencies of God and the employments and pleasures of heaven are sufficient to move the hearts and govern the actions of saints and angels who are now there, they are sufficient to move and govern us.
If the transactions of the judgment day, if the glorious appearing of the Lord from heaven, the assembling of the universe before him, the disclosure of the secrets of all hearts, the final sentence, the blessedness of the righteous, and the horror and despair of the wicked, will be sufficient to arrest the attention, and touch the feelings, and move all the active powers of those who will be present on that momentous occasion ; they are sufficient to arrest our attention, to touch our feelings, and move all our powers of action now. And just so far as we have faith, they will do it. Men generally look at things which are seen. Sensible objects govern their affections, and limit the sphere of their observation. But faith shifts the scene. As to the grand, governing objects of the human mind, and the motives to action, it puts them in a new world. It spreads a shroud over the things of time and sense, and opens to view things unseen and eternal.
Let us now consider the practical influence of faith, as exhibited in Heb. xi. and in other parts of Scripture.
“ By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." v.4. Abel cordially believed what God had said concerning the Seed of the woman. He listened to the appointment of sacrifices, which were doubtless intended to represent the future atonement; and according to the divine direction, and with correspondent feelings, offered a sin-offering. Whereupon God gave him a testimony, that his offering was accepted. Cain's offering was faulty, because he wanted faith ; that is, because he did not cordially believe the promise of God, nor render sincere obedience to his appointment.
“ By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death." v. 5. Enoch walked with God. He was habitually sensible of his presence, confided in his promise, and looked at eternal things. Such was the operation of his faith. He was rewarded by being taken immediately to heaven without seeing death. Thus he obtained his translation by faith,
“ By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark.” Here the nature of faith begins to appear still more clearly. God said, the end of all flesh is come; behold I will destroy them with the earth. He then gave command to Noah to make an ark. Though the destruction of the world by a deluge was a thing which no one had ever seen or heard of before; Noah cordially believed that word of God which asserted it. In his view, God's saya ing it made it a certainty. He had no more doubt of it, than he had after it had rained forty days and forty nights. Thus he prepared an ark by faith ; that is, in consequence of his confidently believing what God had declared. Had he not believed the declaration of God, he would not have done this.