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Here is the Record of Old Testament Saints, who lived and died, triumphant in Faith. The sweet Assurance to New Testament Believers that they, and all the Faithful, will together be made perfect in Jesus.
(1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
The Church of God can never be sufficiently thankful to the Holy Ghost, for this most precious Chapter. It forms a compendium of the most blessed things, all leading to Jesus. The ancient fathers of the Church, were accustomed to call it, the book of God's Martyrs. And to be sure, it doth contain some of the most precious things, by which we are led to see, how it was they lived so strong in faith, and died so triumphant in hope, by the grace of God, being made perfect in their weakness. In order to enter into a proper apprehension of the blessedness of that principle of faith, in which they were made so strong by the Lord; before that we look at the effects of it in their lives, and deaths, as here recorded, it may not be amiss to attend a little more closely to the Lord's own account of faith, as stated in those words.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. There is somewhat very striking in this account of faith, as given by the Holy Ghost himself. It is called by him a substance, meaning; that the object the soul resteth on being substantially formed in the mind; and which, so realizeth that object to view, as for the mind to become as perfectly assured of its existence and reality, as though seen. This is faith. And in this sense, it is the substance of things which are at a distance; but as perfectly alive to the soul; as though present to bodily sense. To explain great things by small. I have a child, a friend, a relation, whom I have never seen, and living at a distance from me. But I am continually receiving tokens from him by message, or by letter, both of his existence, and his affection towards me. Now, though I have never seen him, yet I no more doubt of his being and existence, than my own. I therefore substantiate, and realize in my mind, this certainty; and I am actuated by it accordingly. Such, but in an infinitely higher degree, are the great objects of faith, in relation to things supernatural, and unseen. I have received evidences upon evidences; and love tokens multiplied with love tokens from Jesus my Lord. By faith, therefore, I substantiate, and realize all those blessed things concerning Jesus. .And it is to me substance. Jesus saith, I will cause them that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures, Proverbs 8:21 . Hence, therefore, as the Apostle saith, in relation to Jesus; Whom having not seen we love; in whom though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory; receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls, 1 Peter 1:8-60.1.9 . It was thus with the Patriarch and holy men of old. Their faith needed not the presence of what they believed in. God's testimony concerning it was enough. It became therefore the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.
One word more concerning faith before we enter upon the blessed history, contained in this glorious Chapter, of the fruits and effects of it. Faith is the gift of God, Philippians 1:29 . Christ is the Author and finisher of faith, Hebrews 12:9 . Hence it must follow, that what is God's gift is not man's merit; and therefore the glory of faith, in the exercise of his people, is wholly the Lord's. It may perhaps appear strange to some, when I say, that I consider faith as the act of Christ upon my soul, more than my act of dependence upon him. Paul said, and saith with truth, that his life of faith was not his, but the Lord's. Hear his own words. The life (saith he) which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God. Mark the expression. Not Paul's life of faith in the Son of God, but the faith of the Son of God, Galatians 2:20 . It is not Paul's act upon Christ, but Christ's act upon him. And how is this proved? The life of faith, like any other life, is a life of receiving, not giving. Similar to animal life, which is wholly kept up and preserved, by receiving food, air, strength. These things are received to live upon. They are incomings, not out-goings. The incomings are first received, as the cause. The out-goings are exercised as the effect. Reader! if these things are so, how doth it reduce, and bring low the pride of all our attainments? How forcibly come home the words of the Apostle, For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
The Holy Ghost having first established the truth of the principle of faith itself, and having shewn both the nature of it, and the operation of it, in the properties induced by it, in the lives of the faithful; how proceeds to exemplify its gracious actings, in the lives of those holy men of old, who by it obtained a good report. And the Lord begins with the history of the faith of Abel. And nothing surely can be more strong and decisive, on the subject. The faith of Abel is contrasted to the unbelief of Cain. Both brought their offerings to the Lord. But the Holy Ghost hath marked the vast difference. Cain brought of the fruits of the earth, as one that considered himself a Tenant to he Lord; and no more. He thought the Lord was, as he undoubtedly is, both Lord and Proprietor of all things. And Cain acknowledged him as such, and brought his rent. Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, and offered in sacrifice as a sinner. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and his offering: but unto Cain, and to his offering he had not respect, Genesis 4:5; Genesis 4:5 . Now we should not have known, with that clearness we now do, through divine teaching, what made the vast difference in those men, and the Lord's different acceptance of their Persons and offerings; but from God the Spirit's teaching, in this holy scripture. But when the Lord saith, that it was by faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, we discover the reason. Abel had an eye, by faith, to Christ, the Promised Seed, Abel knew himself to be a sinner, sprung from the fallen race of Adam, and therefore came with the firstlings of his flock, in token of his conscious sin, and that he looked wholly for acceptance in the blood of Christ. Cain in his offering, had respect only to God as a Creator, neither confessing himself as a sinner, or as one needing a Redeemer; and, therefore, was the first Deist the world ever knew. Hence the Lord had respect to Abel and his offering; but to Cain, he had not respect. Hence also, the blessed testimony here given, by the Holy Ghost to Abel, and the rejection of Cain. And though so many ages have passed since those events took place, yet are they still in relation before us. Abel, though dead, yet speaketh.
(5) By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (6) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
To the account of the illustrious faith of Abel, the Holy Ghost next brings forward his testimony to that of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, as Jude calls him, Jude 1:14 . By which he meant not the seventh Person, or the seventh Man, but the seventh generation from Adam, in the line of the Promised Seed. Adam, Sheth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jered, Enoch. See 1 Chronicles 1:1-13.1.3 . It could not be otherwise meant, for Cain had a son called Enoch, Genesis 4:17-1.4.25 . Respecting the translation of Enoch, from the account here given of it by the Holy Ghost, it is evident, that his entrance into the World of Spirits, was not by death in the ordinary way, but ea Elijah, by translation. The Lord simply relates the fact, and bears honorable testimony to his faith. But the Lord enlargeth on what is more important for the Church to know, that such is the importance of faith, that without it, there can be no real approach to God, either in prayer, or praise, or delight, or confidence, or joy. Reader! how blessed are those who know the Lord, and walk in the light of his countenance, Psalms 89:15 .
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
Going on progressively, and according to due order, in a regular succession of those holy men of old, the Holy Ghost here introduceth to the Church the account of Noah's faith. I beg the Reader to attend to some of the leading features of this great Patriarch's character. He is the first concerning whom grace is recorded. The first time we meet with that blessed word in the Bible, is in the instance of Noah. And this at a time of universal corruption, when God said that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, Genesis 6:5 . I desire the Reader to observe this. And I beg of him to observe no less, that Noah was included in the same common corruption. For, when it is added, But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, (Genesis 6:8 ) had that grace been the result of Noah's worth and excellency, grace would have lost its name, and grace, as the Apostle saith, would have been no more grace, Romans 11:6 . This is a great point to know. And the faith of Noah is a confirmation of it. And if the Reader will trace the subject down from Noah, to the latest account of the Church, he will find one uniform history on this subject running through all. Observe the expression. Noah found grace. Genesis 6:8 . Where? In his own heart? No In the eyes of the Lord, And hence we read what God said to Noah. But with thee will I establish my covenant, Genesis 6:18 . So that the very first mention made of grace, or covenant grace as the cause, and the covenant as the effect, are in the instance of Noah. And what is it but the same through all the Bible? Thou hast found grace (said the Lord to Moses in after ages,) in my sight, and I know thee by name, Exodus 33:17 . Fear not, Mary, (said the Angel to her,) for thou hast found favor with God, Luke 1:30 . Go thy way, (said the Lord to Ananias concerning Paul,) for he is a chosen vessel unto me, Acts 9:15 . The whole subject of everything that is blessed turns on this hinge. Well, but say you, was not Noah a preacher of righteousness, 2 Peter 2:5 , and eminent by his faith, and by which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith? Yes! all these things are true and the whole are so many blessed testimonies to the character of Noah. But then these are all no more than the effects of the first predisposing cause. They are all to be traced to their fountain head and source, the grace Noah found in the eyes of the Lord. This gave the bias to all that followed in the life of the Patriarch. This was the first moving and predisposing spring to all the machine. And which brings forward the Apostle's question, and carries with it, in the very bosom of the question, it own answer, Who hath first given to the Lord, and it shall be recompensed again? Romans 11:35 . So universally and individually true is it said, and by the Lord himself, of every child of God, I am found of them that sought me not, Isaiah 65:1 . Reader! what is the sweet application of those precious scriptures, as the subject concerns you and me, but that we come boldly, in the name of Jesus, to his mercy-seat, and obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:16 .
(8) 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. (9) By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (10) For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (11) Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. (12) Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
How equally plain and blessed is the same doctrine concerning the sovereignty of grace, in the instance of the great father of the faithful, Abraham? For what was Abraham, when the Lord first called him? Surely, an idolater. And what prompted the Lord to call Abraham, but his own free, sovereign, and unmerited grace. Is not everything the Lord said to this man to the same amount as to Noah? He found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Fear not, Abraham; I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward, Genesis 15:1 . So everlastingly true is that blessed scripture by John. If we hope, it is because he first loved us, 1 John 4:19 . And all the blessed consequences resulting, in the lives and conduct of Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob, were the fruits and effects; and not in the smallest degree causes, or ministering to the first great and only disposing cause, God's purpose, grace, and favor, leading on to the accomplishment of the end intended. Reader! it is blessed to behold the lives of the faithful, bearing testimony to God's covenant truth and faithfulness. But it is doubly blessed, to keep always in view the Lord disposing all. While the eye of the Prophet was fixed in contemplation at beholding the whirlwind from the north, and the complicated machine, wheel within wheel, moving on in endless revolvings; the whole was too deep, and too much encompassed in perplexity for his mind to understand. But, when the Lord opened to his astonished view, One, like the Son of Man above, guiding all, the Lord's glory became manifested, Ezekiel 1:4-26.1.26 .
It is blessed, yea, very blessed, to behold the children of God, in every age of the Church, all marked with one and the same family feature. They may be said, all of them, to sojourn by faith in the land of promise; for all the promises are theirs in Christ, by right of inheritance, 2 Corinthians 1:20 , and yet, every country here below is to them a strange country, Micah 2:10 . They dwell in the midst of many people, as a dew from the Lord, Micah 5:7 , and yet they dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations, Numbers 23:9 . They sojourn in tabernacles which are moveable, liable, and expecting every moment to be taken down, Hebrews 13:14 , and yet the eternal God is their refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms, Deuteronomy 33:27 .
(13) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. (14) For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. (15) And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. (16) But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
I pray the Reader to pause over these precious things contained within the bosom of these verses. These all died in faith. After what I have offered on the subject of faith, in the opening of this Chapter, (to which I refer the Reader,) it will be unnecessary to dwell on that feature of faith, which respects the death of the Lord's people. They died, as they had lived, in the act of believing. They substantiated things of faith. They understood the things of Christ, as much as though they had lived in the days of Christ, The work of God the Spirit, in convincing them of their need of Christ, was as fully felt, and known, in the conscious plague of their own heart, as those on whom the Holy Ghost descended, after the Lord's ascension, and return to glory. Hence, what Christ said of One suited and belonged to all, Abraham saw my day afar of, rejoiced, and was glad, John 8:56 .
And I admire the very sweet, and gracious manner of expression, the Holy Ghost hath made use of, in proclaiming his honorable approbation of their exercise of faith. Though they all died in faith, yet, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar of, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them. Hence, in after ages, the Lord gave them this escutcheon to become their coat of arms, as in life, so in death. They all died in faith. This motto, marked their princely royalty. And all the faithful in Christ Jesus prove their relationship to the same noble family, in wearing the same crest and arms, from the herald's office of heaven.
Reader! let us not dismiss the view of those holy men of old, before that we have examined our state by their's, in the standard of faith. They all lived, and died, before Christ came. We all now live, since Christ came, finished redemption-work, and returned to glory. They saw not Christ in the flesh, but his day afar off. Our sight of Christ is the same. Whom having not seen we love. There is this difference, indeed, which makes their faith so illustrious, in comparison of ours: Christ's day to them was afar off, and many hundred years were to pass, before the fulness of time was to come, when Christ should appear. Had they, therefore, reasoned with flesh and blood, they might have staggered, as those now are so apt to do, which consult it, and, through unbelief, live below their privileges. But it is said of Abraham, in testimony of his reliance of the promise, that he was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded, that what the Lord had promised, he was able to perform, Romans 4:20-45.4.21 . We have seen the Son of God in our nature, accomplishing redemption by his blood; and, by the regenerating work of God the Holy Ghost on the heart, every child of God hath, in his own person, a clear, and indisputable testimony, that Christ is returned to glory, and hath sent down the Holy Spirit upon his redeemed, in proof thereof. Hence, Old Testament saints, and New Testament believers, are supposed to stand upon the same level, being persuaded of the assurance of the promises; and having embraced them, and confessed that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.
Two or three points, will square this account, and enable the Church of God in the present hour, to form judgment of the standard of their faith, by the lives of those holy men of old.
First. The Lord's bringing them into an acquaintance with the plague of their own heart, paved the way for the hearty and cordial reception of Christ, as the remedy of God's own providing, for the recovery of his Church from her fallen state in Adam. And here every child of God, when taught of God, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, knows and feels the same. The corruption of nature, and the want of grace; the workings of sin, and the powers of divine love; a perfect conviction of a total ruin in the first Adam, that is, of the earth, earthy; and as, perfect an assurance of a complete recovery by the Almighty salvation of the second Adam, even the Lord from heaven; these momentous truths, by sovereign grace, are so powerfully brought home to the heart, and so in-wrought by the Lord's divine teaching, that every child of God, both in the ages before Christ's incarnation, and since, have one and the same feature of character to be known by, whose they are, and whom they serve, in the Gospel of God.
Secondly. The personal enjoyment each child of God hath, of his union in Christ, and interest with Christ, becomes another testimony, in the experience of the faithful. For amidst all the coldness and weakness of the Lord's people, in the present low estate of the Church; still the Lord hath not left himself without witness, that he hath a seed that serve him, and which are counted to the Lord for a generation. There are seasons, in which Jesus doth manifest himself to his people otherwise than he doth to the world. They see him in his suitableness, in his all-sufficiency. They have bread to eat, which the world knoweth not of. And the Lord sometimes comes so near in the manifestations of his love and favor, that they smell the sweet savor of his name, and feel a joy unspeakable, and full of glory, receiving the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.
And, lastly, to mention no more. The consciousness of the love of Jesus, and, as Paul saith, the assurance, that Jesus loved me, and gave himself for me, even when matters in ourselves are most dark, and discouraging; these lift up the souls of the faithful above, all the things of time and sense, and induce a wise indifference to the mere dying circumstances around, in the blessed prospect of that city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Reader! Is this the faith of God's people? And is it your faith also?
(17) By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, (18) Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: (19) Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
Most illustrious as this instance of the Patriarch's faith is, and highly to Abraham's honor, as God the Holy Ghost hath recorded it; I feel constrained to pass this view of it by, in order to attend to what is infinitely more to be regarded in it; I mean, in the typical representation it was evidently intended to set forth, of the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ. It appears from the whole history, that Christ, as the Mediator represented, was the visible Jehovah here appointing Abraham to this service. And in proof, let the Reader remark, that in the original history of this solemn transaction, while it is said in one verse, that God did tempt Abraham to the offering of his son, Genesis 22:1 , in another it is said, that the Angel, as God, calleth to him from heaven, and said: By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, Genesis 22:15-1.22.16 . A plain proof, that it was the Son of God in the representation of his mediator-character, in the whole of this transaction. And indeed it could be no other, for Christ is the visible Jehovah all along spoken of in the scripture, John 1:18 . And the whole may serve to teach us, of what infinite importance in the sight of Jehovah, is that one offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, which God the Holy Ghost was pleased to shadow forth, from the very institution of sacrifices in the garden of Eden, to the coming of Christ, by type and figure through all the different periods of the world from age to age, in order to teach the Church, that without shedding of blood, there is no remission; and that the blood of Christ alone cleanseth from all sin.
(20) By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (21) By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshiped, leaning upon the top of his staff. (22) By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. (23) By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. (24) By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; (25) Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; (26) Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. (27) By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (28) Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (29) By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians attempting to do were drowned. (30) By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. (31) By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
I must call to remembrance the limited design of this humble work, and not indulge myself in entering upon every separate particular in relation to the actions of those illustrious champions of the faith here recorded. But otherwise, I might easily shew how strongly entrenched the Lord had made those ancient followers of the faith, in this leading, and distinguishing article, of living upon Christ. Surely, as Peter said of them, the Spirit of Christ was in them, and in all their acts, both in their public ministry, and private conversation; the two grand features of our Lord's life, and offices, they embraced with an ardor the most animated, namely, of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow, 1 Peter 1:11 . And, both Christ in his Person, and Christ in his ministry, those holy men, by the most lively actings of faith, were living upon, and enjoying familiar communion with. All the Patriarchs, from Abraham to Moses, lived in the daily exercise of faith upon Christ, and his blood-shedding and righteousness. If Moses was hidden by his parents, it was by faith. If, conscious of his Hebrew birth by circumcision, which he could not but know, he refused to be called the Son of Pharaoh's daughter; it was by faith. If he esteemed Christ, despised Egypt, kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood; the whole was by faith. All, and every act, became an act of faith, by which the lives and deaths of those blood-bought, royal sons of God, were so distinguished; and for which, the Holy Ghost hath handed down their names with such honorable testimony in the word of God. Hence Jacob, when dying, exulted in the Covenant love, and grace of God in Christ, and cried out: I have waited for thy salvation, 0 Lord. Hence, Joseph, in the hour of death, looked to Canaan, as the sure spot, where Christ in after ages should come; and said, there let my bones be carried. And Moses, in his last farewell to Israel, sung his song concerning Him, my dweller in the bush, Deuteronomy 13:16 .
(32) And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: (33) Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, (34) 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. (35) Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: (36) And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: (37) 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; (38) (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (39) And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (40) God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
It were to hold the small taper of the night to the sun, to offer any observations upon what is included within these verses. Indeed, any comment would do injury to the beautiful simplicity which runs through the whole of what the Holy Ghost hath said. Every verse, yea, every line, manifests what an energy the whole must have acted under, when their faith induced such wonders, and by which such an holy perseverance was kept alive, under Christ, the great Author and Finisher of faith, in such soul-living expectations. They received not the promises, No! They needed them not in hand. They lived on them by faith. They had the same thing, namely, the assurance of them. And, Reader this is the most blessed, and distinguishing feature of faith, when, in the absence of the promise, the faithful can, and do live upon the promising God. Oh! it is blessed, when at any time matters are dark, and discouraging, still to hang upon God the Almighty Promiser when it is too dark even to see the promise itself, or to see how the Lord will accomplish it. The faithful follower of the Lord hath nothing to do with either. It is enough that the Lord hath said it. And the child of God will say, it is the Lord's concern, and not mine, how he will bring it to pass. In short, the blessedness of the promise itself, and the assured faithfulness of the Promiser; these are all in which the faithful are concerned. And, in every trying moment of the faithful, he hears, the same Almighty Speaker calling upon him, to the same effect as the Lord did to the Patriarch of old: Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward, Genesis 15:1 . Reader! can you set your Amen to these truths?
BLESSED be God the Holy Ghost, the Almighty Author of his sacred Word, for this precious Chapter, which he hath so graciously given to the Church Of God! for the Lord the Spirit, who hath so freely caused such illustrious acts of his people to be recorded for the consolation of the faithful, to bless it to the faithful, whenever, and wheresoever the Lord causeth it to be heard, or read, in all the Churches of the saints. And oh! that amidst all the awful circumstances of the present awful day, when, if the Son of God should come, the question of our Lord might be put forth, with trembling apprehensions for the answer; will He find faith in the earth? oh! grant that there may be known by our Lord, though hidden from our imperfect view, a remnant according to the election of grace, both sons and daughters, who do not bow the knee to the image of Baal!
Lord Jesus! thou Almighty Author and Finisher of faith! do thou increase our faith! Surely , Lord! the gift is thine; faith is thine. As none can first quicken, so none can keep alive his own soul. And, as none can first create faith; so none can exercise it, but by thee. All our fresh springs are in thee: Yea, Lord! Is not faith itself thine act in the soul, and the whole result of thy grace upon the heart? Precious Jesus! make thy redeemed now strong in the grace that is in thyself; that we may be the followers of them, who inherit the promises.
Almighty Father! All the triumphs of faith begin in thy fatherly love. Thy choice of the Church in Christ, and thy gift of the Church to Christ, become the surest testimony of thine everlasting love, which time, or eternity can shew. Oh! then, let a sense of it silence forever all the natural Atheism, and unbelief, thy children bring with them into the world, from the Adam-nature, in which we are all born. Oh! gracious God and Father! let thy children stand impressed with an unshaken, and steady assurance, that thou hast not called thyself I AM, for nothing; but that the very name, by which thou hast been pleased to be made known to them, becomes a confirmation of all thy promises. I AM will give both a being, and an accomplishment, to all he hath said. Amen. Oh! then, like those holy men in Christ gone before, grant that thy people may all live, and when called upon, all die, in the faith of God's elect. And both in life and death, in time, and to all eternity, bless the united Source of all their mercies, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now, and ever Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 11". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent