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and promises that he will upon his return bless him, her faith fails; she does not reflect upon the fixedness of God's promise ; she does not feel in how many ways the purpose of God may be made to stand fast, and the designs of Isaac may be frustrated ; she does not apprehend that the voice of God himself might call upon him and command him to bless his younger born; and, therefore, because the affection for her younger child is strong, and because the hope of his prosperity is dear to her, she, distrusting God's power, and unconscious of his presence, makes an act of dissimulation one of the means by which the promise of God is fulfilled.
Thus, a hope derived from the Divine promises, and the purest of all earthly affections, became the source from which crime proceeded. But had the faith of Rebecca been well fixed, no weak temptation would have had power to move her. She would have relied upon the Lord's promise-she would have waited patiently the developement of his designsshe would have been conscious of his presence, and would have respected the moral
which he had impressed upon her heart, too highly, to debase herself, and offend her God, by counselling falsehood or imposture.
power it has
Thus, we have seen what faith is, and what
It is a'belief in the unseen realities, as powerful, and as constraining, as the belief we have in the external world. It has the power, by raising the mind to the contemplation of eternal things, to overcome all that in the natural man is enmity against God, and to regulate and restrain those affections and desires which
proper guidance, be conducive to our improvement and our happiness, but which, if not under the controul of a lively faith, from the infirmity of our nature, will frequently lead to evil.
But you have, I dare say, already observed that the faith we have been considering, is not that which contains the peculiarity of the Christian doctrine. We have considered rather what the Christian has in common with the believers in a natural religion, than that which is peculiar to himself, We have been considering, if I may use such an expression, the faith of nature, rather than of revelation. The faith of Plato, rather than of Paul. " He that cometh to God, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him.” This is the faith upon which the religion of nature rests, which we must admit was gloriously illustrated by many a noble Heathen. But there is a faith different from this, a faith in things which flesh and blood have not revealed to us, a faith which opens the kingdom of Heaven, and in which the Christian Church has laid its everlasting foundations.
- And Simon Peter, answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” St. Paul teaches us, “that it is a true saying and worthy of all men to be believed, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." This is the faith upon which Christ hath built his Church, the belief in his office, and a reliance on his power to save.
Now, it is to be observed, that however the faith of the Heathens might agree in one characteristic of true faith, inasmuch as it gave evidence of things unseen, it is only the Christian faith which can be truly the substance of things hoped for. The Heathen, let us suppose, believed that there was a God, and that he was the rewarder of all that diligently sought him—but evidently this belief might be accompanied as well by terror as by hope. He had a belief of a great being who was to recompense him according to the life he led, evil for evil, as well as for virtue a reward ; and the consciousness he must have had of his frail and corrupt nature would, most assuredly, prevent him from feeling in his faith the com
fort of an abiding hope.
But what is the Christian's faith? It is a principle which gives him an assurance not of God's justice only, but also of his love; a principle, which not only convinces him that there is a better world, but directs him to the way through which he is to gain admission. It is a principle by which he is taught, that as he was born in sin, Christ died that he might be born again unto righteousness. It is a principle, which teaches him that he who is to judge him hereafter, is at this moment his intercessor. In short, it is a principle which, convincing him of the future world and the judgment to come, brings into his heart, with all their spiritualizing and consoling efficacy, the promises and encouragements so gloriously promulgated in our Saviour's life and death, and so faithfully registered in his everlasting Gospel. Sach is the faith upon which Christ hath founded his Church, the faith by which the just man shall live. Pause here for a moment, and say,
whence did the Apostles learn this great doctrine, of a saving faith? Could they learn it from the Jews, amongst whom all flesh had corrupted his
way, amongst whom the love of God had grown cold, and religion had degenerated into ceremony and ostentation ? Was it from
such a people the doctrine of faith could be learned from the Sadducee who believed not in a resurrection-from the Pharisee who challenged to himself the approbation of God, because he fasted twice a-day, and gave thanks that he was not as the repentant publican? Was it out of these whited sepulchres—fair without, within the tenements of death-full of all uncleanness—that the power of faith could come forth as a mighty principle to animate the doctrine of the Apostles, and to subdue the kingdoms of this world, “ that they should become the kingdoms of God and of his Christ ?”—Or, was the doctrine communicated by the Gentiles ? Did the Apostles, from the deceived or the deceivers in “ the nations,” learn the power of a principle before which the rites and the iniquities of Paganism would be rebuked, and which could convert the
great is Diana of the Ephesians,” into an universal acknowledgment, “ that they be no God's which are made with hands ??? The whole frame and essence of Jewish polity and Heathen idolatry, declares that it could not. Where the power of faith was known, idolatry could not abide, and the disguises by which hypocrites might hope to deceive, must be far unlike those which the Pharisees assumed. What shall we say then