Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Next, comes Jacob ; the father of the twelve tribes. By a like exercise of faith, Jacob, when he was dying, that is, was near his death, gave his prophetic blessing to his two grandsons, the sons of Joseph ; and foretold that two tribes should spring from these two sons; and that the tribe of Ephraim, although the younger born, should be more powerful than the tribe of Manasseh. And then, in token of his faith in the verity of God concerning the promised Canaan, the good old man, being sick and feeble, worshipped God, leaning upon the top of his staff.

All these Patriarchs died, without receiving the promised country; confessing themselves but strangers and pilgrims on the earth ; and thus declaring that they looked for a better country, even an heavenly; and consequently, that they expected to be raised from the dead, to enjoy that better country. Such, and so prevailing, was their faith.

Next, comes Joseph ; the favourite and lost son of Jacob; who, in his youth, was sold by fraternal envy, and carried captive into Egypt. And what was his faith ? It was so strong, that when he was ending his life, he mentioned it, as a thing certain ---- because God had promised to give Canaan to his great grandfather Abraham, and to his posterity, that the children of Israel, or Jacob, should depart out of Egypt, where they had long been held in bondage. And therefore, he gave commandment that, when they went, they should carry with them his bones, and bury them in Canaan. And God's promise did not fail; the people were to go, and his bones were to be car

ried up

Next, is brought forward the champion Moses ; the Jewish Deliverer

and Lawgiver. By the faith of his parents, Moses, when he was born, was hid three months, before he was entrusted to the immediate providence of God, in an ark of hulrushes, among the flags by the river's brink ; because they saw that he was a proper

child and very beautiful ; and presaged that he might be the one appointed to deliver them. And therefore, they were not afraid of the command of Pharaoh, who, to prevent

the rise of the expected deliverer, had ordered every male child to be cast into the river, and only the daughters to be saved alive.

And Moses himself, by faith in the promises of God, made known to him probably by his Jewish brethren, when he was grown resolved to join himself unto his own people, refusing any longer to be called the son of the princess-daughter, who had found him in the river flags, and humanely adopted and educated him. He choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of the true God, than, as the son of the king's daughter, to enjoy the temporary pleasures of the idolatrous court of Egypt. And esteeming the scoffs thrown upon the Israelites for expecting the Messiah to arise from them, greater riches than the courtly treasures ; for he looked away from them, far and forward, to a future reward.

By faith, Moses, having first proved the miraculous power of his God, above the Egyptian gods, by many signs, and especially by staying the hand of the destroying angel, who passed by the blood-besprinkled doorposts, and spared the Israelitish, while he slew the Egyptian firstborn; and believing that God would deliver his oppressed brethren from their foreign task-masters; he left Egypt. By faith, he led on, as the captain of his nation, not fearing the wrath of the enraged Pharaoh, and his hosts; for he endured and persevered, not as one who looked to their visible gods, but as one who looked upward, and could see the invisible God.

And thus, by his unshaken faith in the interposition of God, Moses led his confiding people through the divided waters of the Red Sea, as on dry land; while the rushing chariots of the impious, pursuing Pharaoh, and his hosts, were overwhelmed by the closing walls of the sea. So shall all those triumph, who trust in God.

Next, comes Joshua ; the able successor to the great Moses, in conducting the Israelitish army to the promised land. Do you ask the example given of his faith ? Moses had viewed the promised land at a distance from Mount Nebo; and there died, and was not found, for God buried him. But Joshua had led onward the chosen

people, over Jordan ; and was now ordered by God, to encompass Jericho, the city of palm-trees, for seven days, without any engines of war; but simply the priests carrying the Ark of God, and blowing rams' horns, as a summons for a surrender. Did this servant of the Lord doubt, or ridicule the expedient ? No. He had faith. And on the seventh day, as he shouted, and the horns blew, the walls of Jericho fell flat, the chosen people entered, and the city was sacked.

Next, comes up the pattern of Rahab, a Woman, to illustrate the grace of faith. Although Rahab had been a harlot, and consequently a great sinner, in her former life, at Jericho; yet she repented, and testified her faith in the true God, when she heard of his miracles. And what did Rahab? She hid the two spies sent by Joshua in the stalks of flax, in her house roof, and let them down by a cord through the window, and thereby risked her life. And afterwards, as a reward for this service, by placing a line of scarlet thread in her window for a sign, as was agreed on, she was saved, with her father and mother, and relatives, and their possessions, at the sacking and burning of the city ; when all the unbelieving inhabitants were destroyed. Thus was Rahab justified by her works of faith. And thus is the reward of faith confined to neither sex.

Last, come forward the Judges, Prophets, and Kings, who have been illustrious, some for their active, and others for their passive virtues ; and thus given evidence of their saving faith. And because it had been tedious to introduce them singly, and by specification, Saint Paul collects them together, men and women, into one group. Then, in a strain of noble eloquence, for Saint Paul was very eloquent oftentimes, he celebrates their fortitude, their victories, and their rewards, all obtained through the influence of their faith.

And what shall I more say? he asks. Why bring more examples of the power and efficacy of faith? For the time would fail me, to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae ; of David also, and Samuel,

5*

VOL. II.

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.

All this noble line of the Elders; of patriarchs, of kings, of prophets, of judges, and of saints ; although they had obtained a good report, the just approbation of man, and of God; Saint Paul concludes by saying, had not yet received the promised reward of their faith. And why? Because God, having provided some better thing, even the Gospel, for us; resolved that the ancient Saints, however happy they may now be, should not be made perfect without us.

But that all, both they and we, should receive the fulness of the spiritual promise, and enter the heavenly Canaan, in hand together, after the resurrection of the body, and the general Judgment.

REMARKS.

This admirable, and consolatory Address of Saint Paul was particularly designed for the Hebrews. But it is equally valuable, and was doubtless intended, for the edification of the whole fallen world.

1. We learn, by what is declared of Abel, and Enoch, and Noale, that justification by faith is not a new doctrine, but is as old as the beginning of the world.

2. We learn, that the ancient patriarchs believed the promise of the earthly, only as a type and pledge of the heavenly Canaan; and that they therefore believed in the

resurrection of the dead, and an immortal happiness; although their views were, in comparison with ours, dim and shadowy; because life and immortality were not then so clearly brought to light, as they now are, by the Gospel.

3. We are taught, that faith is not only historical or speculative; not a rise of the intellect merely, but of the affections. That christian faith is an active principle, which leads to the utmost perseverance in doing, and fortitude in suffering, everything which God has commanded. And that, Faith without works is dead.

4. We learn, that justification by faith was not intended for any particular time, or nation, but for all ages, and all countries; even for those, who, being unblest with a Revelation, apply reason and conscience to discover and obey the will of God. For, The just shall live by faith.

5. And now, if we would hold that faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, let us follow the footsteps of the Ancient Worthies; of righteous Abel; and Enoch, who walked with God; and Noah, the father of the second world; and Abraham, the father of the faithful, who withheld not his only son; and Joseph, who would not do that great wickedness, and sin against God; and Moses, who persevered as seeing Him, who is invisible; and all the rest, who lived and died in faith; and whose faith, and ours, will then soon, when the last trump shall sound, be turned into one general, united, and harmonious fruition, For, without faith, it is impossible to please God,

« ПредишнаНапред »