Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.
Faith in its Relation to the Future and the UnseenD. Young Hebrews 11:1
The Gaze of the SoulA. W. TozerHebrews 11:1
The Nature of FaithW. Jones Hebrews 11:1
A Good Report Obtained by FaithT. Manton, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
An Appeal to the Great Names of the PastR. W. Dale, LL. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
Antiquity of FaithDean Vaughan.Hebrews 11:1-2
Believing in the UnseenChristian WorldHebrews 11:1-2
Evangelical FaithHomilistHebrews 11:1-2
FaithBp. Temple.Hebrews 11:1-2
FaithE. Munro.Hebrews 11:1-2
FaithT. Manton, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
FaithW. Bull, B. A.Hebrews 11:1-2
FaithR. Collyer, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith a CorrectiveT. B. Stephenson, LL. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith a Sign of Human ProgressH. Jones, M. A.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith a SubstanceJ. Irons.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith a TelescopeH. O. Mackey.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith a Well-Worn Word Scarcely Realised in MeaningA. Maclaren, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith and its ExploitsF. B. Meyer, B. A.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith Convinced of the InvisibleJohn Owen, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith DefinedC. New.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith not Blind ConfidenceHy. Dunn.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith Proving and ReprovingDean Vaughan.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith the Foundation and Strength of CharacterE. W. Shalders, B. A.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith the Substance and EvidenceC. A. Bartol.Hebrews 11:1-2
Faith, the Evidence of Things not SeenHebrews 11:1-2
Faith, the Substance of Things Hoped ForJ. Vaughan, M. A.Hebrews 11:1-2
Saving FaithC. S. Robinson, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
Shadow and SubstanceR. Balgarnie, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Best AcquirementD. Thomas.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Evidence of Things not SeenG. Lawson.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Faith of the Ancient WorthiesW. Landels, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Prospect of FaithW. Bridge.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Renown of FaithJohn Owen, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Repose of FaithT. BinneyHebrews 11:1-2
The Roll-Call of the Illustrious DeadHebrews 11:1-2
The Tense of FaithJ. Trapp.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Use of HistoryR. W. Dale, LL. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Value and Importance of FaithW. Landels, D. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Victories of FaithC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 11:1-2
The Visions of FaithBp. Jeremy Taylor.Hebrews 11:1-2
Things not SeenDean Vaughan.Hebrews 11:1-2
What is FaithH. Melvill, B. D.Hebrews 11:1-2
What is FaithDean Vaughan.Hebrews 11:1-2
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, etc. This is not a definition or description of what is called, in theological phrase, saving faith. It does not set forth faith in Jesus Christ in particular, but faith in its general meaning and its comprehensive exercise. The text teaches us that -

I. FAITH IS THE DEMONSTRATION OF INVISIBLE REALITIES. It is "the evidence of things not seen;" Revised Version, "the proving of things not seen." There are two classes of unseen things:

1. Things which are absolutely invisible. Of these we may mention:

(1) God, a Being of almighty power, of infinite wisdom, of perfect holiness, etc. "No man hath seen God at any time." "Whom no man hath seen, nor can see."

(2) The human soul. That part of his being which thinks and feels, hopes and fears, loves and hates, no man in our present state has seen.

(3) Spiritual truth is Invisible to our bodily eyes. We perceive it, but we cannot see it.

2. Things which are relatively invisible.

(1) There are great historical facts which are invisible to us. Some of these are mentioned in this chapter; e.g. the Creation, the Deluge. But those are of the greatest importance to us which are connected with the life and work, the suffering and death, the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ - the great facts in the accomplishments of human redemption. These were witnessed by many, but to us they are invisible. Our attitude in relation to them is a thing of the utmost moment to us. If we accept them, it must be by faith.

(2) There are important future events which are invisible to us at present. The heaven into which our Lord has entered, and where God is enthroned, is at present hidden from our eyes. And Hades, the great world of departed spirits, is impenetrably veiled from men in the flesh. The great and solemn judgment, and the different abodes and states of men after the judgment, are as yet invisible to our senses. Now, faith is the evidence, the "demonstration," the "actual proof," of these invisible things which are declared in the sacred Scriptures. "It is an act which itself gives the knowledge and proof of the existence of those things not seen." "The essential meaning of the word," says Mr. Matthew Arnold, "is 'power of holding on to the unseen.'" It is a deep and intense conviction of the existence and reality of things and persons which are not apprehensible by the senses.

II. FAITH IS THE ASSURANCE OF DESIRABLE POSSESSIONS. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for;" Revised Version, "the assurance of things hoped for." It is a firmly grounded confidence of things hoped for. Two observations are suggested:

1. Some of these invisible things which are apprehended by faith are regarded as desirable and attainable. They are "hoped for." Hope is the "desire of good with a belief that it is obtainable;" it is" well-grounded desire." We hope to receive in this present life Divine grace and guidance, provision and preservation, spiritual help in our daily work and warfare, and illuminating and sanctifying influences. And in the life that is to come, we hope for heaven and all its blessedness; its entire freedom from sin and suffering; its perfect purity and peace; the holy and delightful fellowship of glorified saints; the perpetual presence of our adorable Savior and Lord; and the enrapturing manifestation of God (1 John 3:2, 3). We regard these things as attainable because they are promised to the sincere believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. And we hope for them through him.

2. Faith gives assurance of these desirable and attainable things. It appropriates such of them as may be obtained at present, and confidently anticipates those that are reserved for the future. It was well said by Ambrose, "The heir must believe his title to an estate in reversion before he can hope for it; faith believes its title to glory, and then hope waits for it. Did not faith feed the lamp of hope with oil, it would seen die." And more, it brings future blessings into our present experience, and it gives to us foretastes of heavenly blessedness, which are a pledge and an earnest that our holiest and brightest hopes will meet with full and glorious fruition -

" Where faith is sweetly lost in sight,
And hope in full, supreme delight,
And everlasting love." W.J.

Now faith is the substance.
Hitherto the Jewish Christians had continued to celebrate the ancient ritual, and their presence in the temple and the synagogue had been tolerated by their unbelieving countrymen; but now they were in danger of excommunication, and it is hardly possible for us to conceive their distress and dismay. Their veneration for the institutions of Moses had not been diminished by their acknowledgment of the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus; for them, as well as for the rest of their race, an awful sanctity rested on the ceremonies from which they were threatened with exclusion. Therefore, the writer of this Epistle calls up the most glorious names of Jewish history to confirm his vacillating brethren in their fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not by offering sacrifices, nor by attending festivals, nor by the pomp and exactness with which they had celebrated any external rites and ceremonies, that the noblest of their forefathers had won their greatness, but by their firm and steadfast trust in God.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

The word "faith" is sometimes used for the object of faith, for the thing to be believed; as when it is said in Acts, "A great company of priests were obedient to the faith." But it is quite evident, from the whole series of the examples by which the definition is followed, that it is not of the thing believed, but of the act of believing, that the apostle speaks in the chapter before us. Yet when used of the act of believing, faith will be found to have different senses. Thus it is applied to what may be called historical faith — a bare assent to the truths revealed in Scripture; and this would seem to be the strict use of the term when St. James says, "Faith, if it have not works, is dead." Then, besides historical faith, there is what may be called temporary faith — faith which for a time seems productive of true fruits, and then comes to nothing. There is also another kind of faith mentioned in the New Testament; but it does not similarly occur amongst ourselves. This is what divines call the faith of miracles, belief in some particular promise or power, through which, whether as an instrument or as a condition, some supernatural work is wrought. Many had faith in Christ's power to heal their bodies who knew nothing of Him as the Physician of their souls. But, confining ourselves to the cases of historical faith and temporary faith, as being those which are but too likely to pass with us for saving faith, will either of the two answer strictly to the definition which constitutes our text? Let us look carefully at the definition. It consists of two parts; and the one is not to be considered as a mere repetition of, or a different way of putting the other. First, the apostle calls faith "the substance of things hoped for." Now "things hoped for" are things which have no present subsistence; so far as our enjoyment or possession of them is concerned, they must be future. But "faith," the apostle says, "is the substance of things hoped for." It is that which gives a present being to these things. It takes them out of the shadowy region of probability, and brings them into that of actual reality. Faith is, moreover, the " evidence of things not seen." By "things not seen" we understand such as are not to be ascertained to us by our senses, or even by our reason — not seen either by the eye of the body or by the far more powerful eye of the mind. These are the truths and facts revealed to as by the Word of God, and of which, independently on that Word, we must have remained wholly ignorant. Its province is with invisible things, and of these it is "the evidence" — the demonstration, or conviction — as the original word signifies. It serves as a glass by which we can see what we cannot see without a glass; not putting stars where there are none, but enabling us to find them where we saw none. Now will the historical faith, or the temporary faith answer to this description of faith? We may put out the case of temporary faith, for this is excluded not so much by not corresponding to the definition while it lasts, as by not lasting. We may not be able to show its defects while alive, but we can of course detect them when dead. But historical faith — the believing what is represented of Jesus Christ, in the same sense, mode, or degree as they believe what is represented of Julius Caesar — this, which passes with many men for the faith which Scripture demands — will this answer to the Scriptural definition of faith? Is, then, this historical faith "the substance of things hoped for"? Nay, the heart, the affections must be interested, before there can be " things hoped for." And, by a similar brief process, we may prove the want of correspondence between historical faith and the second clause of St. Paul's definition. Is such faith "the evidence of things not seen"? Does it make things not seen as certain to a man as things seen? — for this is the force of the definition. Does it, for example, make hell, which is not seen, as certain to the sinner as the gallows, which is seen, to the criminal given over to the executioner? None of you will maintain this. Unseen .things, which, if they exist at all, must immeasurably transcend things seen, cannot be as certain to a man as things seen, if that man give them not the preference, and far more if he treat them with neglect: Now this turns the definition in our text to good account, forasmuch as it operates to the separating historical faith from saving faith, the faith of the great mass of men from that intended by the apostle when he said, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness." If, then, we now turn to justifying faith, we shall have to give it a seat in the heart as well as the mind — and see whether this will not make it correspond with the apostle's definition. .And when a man thus believes with the heart as well as with the mind, faith will be to him "the substance of things hoped for." The things on which his expectation rests will be the things promised in the Bible. These, as the chief good, will seem to him immeasurably preferable to any good already in possession. They will, therefore, be the objects of his hope. But will they be mere shadows, brilliant and beautiful, but perhaps only meteors, which may cheat him to the last, and vanish within his grasp? Not so; faith gives them a present subsistence. .And this "faith is" moreover "the evidence of things not seen"; it gives to the invisible the sort of power possessed by the visible. A thing may be unseen and yet have just the same power as if it were seen. Let me be only sure that a man concealed by a curtain is taking aim at me with a murderous intent, and I am moved with the same fear, and make the same spring for my life, as if the curtain were away and I were face to face with the assassin. Now faith takes away the curtain; not that faith which is only the assent of the understanding, for this may leave me indifferent as to the emotions of the mind, but that faith which, having its seat in the affections, must excite dread of danger and desire to escape. This faith takes away the curtain; not so, indeed, as to make the man visible, but so as to make me as sure of his being there, and with the purpose of bloodshed, as if he were visible. Therefore is such a faith the conviction of things not seen; and the believer, he who believes in God's Word with the heart as well as with the understanding, may be said, in virtue of that great principle, to draw back the veil which to every other eye hangs so darkly between the temporal and the spiritual, and therefore suited to inspire him with confidence. It is in this way, then, that faith, which is such an assent of the mind to the truth of God's Word as flows into the heart, and causes the soul to build upon that Word, answers thoroughly to both parts of that definition of faith which St. Paul has ]aid down in our text. But now you will say to me, Is this justifying faith? have I not rather given a description generally of faith, than of that particular faith which is represented as appropriating the blessings of the gospel? Not so. True, saving faith has for its object the whole revealed truth of God, though we call it justifying faith, as it fixes specially on the promise of remission of sins by the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be my faith in one particular declaration or doctrine which justifies me, but, nevertheless, my faith in that one particular doctrine is noways different from my faith in every other doctrine similarly announced and similarly established. The "things hoped for" from Christ are especially the pardon of sin, the gift of righteousness, and admission to the kingdom of heaven. Of these things is faith the substance; to these it gives a sure and present subsistence, making them as though not only promised, but performed; so strong while faith is in true exercise, is the sense of acceptance, the assurance of being "heirs of God," yea, "joint heirs with Christ." And the "things not seen" are the past work of Christ in His humiliation and the present work of Christ in His glory. But of these "things not seen" faith is the evidence or conviction. The believer is just as sure of Christ's having died for him, as if he had seen Him die; just as sure of Christ's ever living for him, as if, with Stephen, he " saw heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." There is, however, one caution which should be here introduced; for otherwise, whilst we wish to give instruction, we may but darken knowledge, and minister to anxiety. You are not to confound faith and assurance, as though no man could be saved by believing, unless he believe himself saved. "It seems," says Archbishop Usher, "that justifying faith consisteth in these two things, in having a mind to know Christ and a will to rest upon Him; and whosoever sees so much excellency in Christ, that thereby he is drawn to embrace Him as the only rock of salvation, that man truly believes unto justification. Yet it is not necessary to justification to be assured that my sins are pardoned and that I am justified, for that is no act of faith as it justifieth, but an effect and fruit that followeth after justification. For no man is justified by believing that he is justified — he must be justified before he can believe it; no man is pardoned by believing that he is pardoned — he must be pardoned before he can believe it. Faith as it justifieth, is a resting upon Christ to obtain pardon. But assurance, which is not faith in Christ, but rather faith in my faith, may, or may not follow on the justifying faith. You see, then, that our text accurately defines what is justifying faith, though it does not distinguish that faith from faith generally, neither does it leave us to confound it with assurance. You are not to go away and say, "Oh! saving faith is something altogether strange and mystical, unlike any other species of faith; it is not a kind by itself, it is peculiar only in its object. All faith which is not merely historical, is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"; and he who has this faith in the truth that God made him, has the principle of which he has but to change the direction, and he has faith in the truth that Christ redeemed him.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

This is the only place in the Bible where we have what we can call a definition of faith. That faith which is the foundation of all other Christian graces — the title by which we keep our place as Christians — the inward working which has its fruit in good works — the hand by which we lay hold on God and on Christ, is here said to be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen; and by substance, no doubt, is here meant firm confidence, and by evidence is meant conviction. Faith is the laying hold of the future in the midst of the present, of the unseen in the midst of the seen. It is this which marks the true disciple of Christ, that he walks by faith and not by sight. If the world were what it ought to be, there would be little trial of this faith. But though the world was made very good, and though all that cannot be touched by the influence of our sins is still very good, yet the world, as we have made it, is by no means like the handiwork of God. We see all around us a strange contradiction to what we are told, that justice, and truth, and goodness are the most precious of all things known to man. We see often wrong prevail over right; we see the highest honour constantly given to what we know not to be the highest desert; we see mere strength, whether of body or mind, receive the consideration which ought to be reserved for real goodness. How often do we see plain instances of the success of mere rude strength; sometimes of forwardness; sometimes eve,, of cunning and want of strict truth. Nor is this all. Besides this incessant evidence that good does not govern the world, we are perpetually betrayed in the same thought by a traitor within ourselves. At every moment temptation comes; and the temptation is ever close at hand; the evil consequences of yielding seem far away. However much we may be convinced that in the end obedience to duty is better than sin, we find it hard to remember our conviction at the moment that it is wanted. But in the midst of all this, in spite of what our eyes perpetually tell us, and in spite of the strange forgetfulness which our inclinations perpetually cast over Us, in spite of contradictions without and weakness within, there is a voice from the depths of our own souls that never ceases to repeat that right is really stronger than wrong, and truth is better than falsehood, and justice is surer than injustice. To believe this voice, and to obey it; to surrender to it the guidance of the life in the firm conviction that it will guide us to the true end of our being; to do this is faith. This trusting to the voices that speak within, even when they flatly contradict the voices that speak without, is obviously not peculiar to Christians. The Jew had put into his hands the Word of God as far as it was then written. He was put under a system which God had commanded to be observed. Both in one and in the other he found much that was unintelligible, much that seemed either without a purpose or with a purpose not worth pursuit. Through all that was strange and dark, and even contradictory, it was impossible not to know in his heart that the Spirit which inspired the Bible was the same Spirit as that which sometimes whispered and sometimes thundered in his own conscience, an authority which he could not awe, and could not influence, entering into the very secrets of his soul, and yet no part of himself, and that this Spirit was the voice of God. To throw himself unreservedly on the power which was thus revealed to him, both from within and from without, to accept with unconditional submission the guidance of that Word: of God which was, in fact, the fuller expansion of the message given by conscience, to trust in Him who was thus revealed, in spite of every trial and every temptation; this was the faith of the Jew. Their revelation was imperfect. There still remained one question unanswered. The enemy which is hardest for us to encounter is not after all the sight of this world's wrong and injustice. It is when conscience, at the very moment of demanding our obedience, proclaims also our sinfulness. We would believe, and live by our belief, in spite of all the contradictions and evil with which the world is filled: but we are so weak, so wicked, so hampered with the fetters both of nature and of habit. Will that awful voice, whose authority we dare not doubt, really lead us to peace or to our own destruction? The gospel gave the answer. We read there of One whose life, and words, and death force us to confess that He is the express image of that Father of whom our own conscience, and the prophets of old, have ever told us. We read of One who laid hold on human nature and made it His own, and consecrated it with a Divine power. We read His promises exactly corresponding to that very need which our souls feel every day more keenly. And all this is written down not merely in words but in the deeds of a history such as never man passed through beside, of a history whose every word touches some feeling of our heart, echoes some whisper of our spirit. He bids us surrender ourselves to Him, following His leading, trust in His protection, His power; He promises us by sure, though it may be by slow degrees, but with the certainty of absolute assurance, to join us to His Father and to Himself: He promises not merely to undo some day the riddle of the world, and give the good and the just a visible triumph over the evil and the wrong, but, what we need much more, He promises to give us the victory over sin within ourselves, and to prove to us that God has forgiven us by the infallible token of His having cleansed us. To throw ourselves on these promises, to purify ourselves in the full assurance that Christ's love can carry us through all that we shall encounter, to cling to Christ not only in spite of pain and darkness, and strange perplexity, but in spite of our own sins also, this is our substance of things hoped for, this is our evidence of things not seen, this is Christian faith. This is, St. John tells us, the victory which overcometh the world. This is the power which, both in great things and in small, both in hard trials and in easy, ever supports the disciple of Christ by bringing within his reach all the strength of his Master.

(Bp. Temple.)

I. FAITH IS THE CONFIDENT PERSUASION OF UNSEEN THINGS. The word translated " substance" occurs in Hebrews 3:14; 2 Corinthians 9:4; 2 Corinthians 11:17, and is translated "confidence." The word translated "evidence" is from a verb which signifies "to convince." "Faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

1. Faith is not belief on the evidence of the senses.

2. Faith is not credulity. God is essential truth, then it is reasonable to repose in what He has said.

3. Faith is not a mere assent of the understanding.

II. FAITH IS THE SOURCE OF ALL SPIRITUAL ACHIEVEMENT. "By it the elders" achieved all that this chapter records. Faith was the secret of what they were and did.

1. The New Testament ascribes all Christian life to faith. "Whosoever believeth shall not perish," &c.; "sanctified by faith"; "this is the victory that,"&c.; "wherein believing ye rejoice," &c.; "kept by the power," &c.

2. This is due to the fact that all Christian life is the result of heavenly influences, and faith lifts it into these. It raises the soul into the heavenly world; brings future things near, and makes Christ live before us. The effect of this on our spiritual nature is its development, like that of a tropical plant brought from a cold land into its native clime and proper conditions.


1. This shows our personal responsibility with regard to faith.

2. This is a strong consolation to infirm and secluded believers.

(C. New.)

There were those who one time asked the Saviour, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?" To this He replied, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." The issue, then, between God and men is narrowed down to this — "only believe."


1. Sometimes the word refers merely to a creed, with no notion in it of spiritual experience at all (1 Timothy 4:1; Jude 1:3).

2. When the Bible speaks of faith, it sometimes means mere belief in facts (ver. 3). This kind of faith is necessary, in a certain sense, to salvation: "for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." The facts of the Saviour's life are to be received in that way. But this is not saving faith at all.

3. Again; faith sometimes means that conviction of the understanding which results from proofs laid before it, or arguments adduced. This is that which the woman wrought among her neighbours when she came back from the conversation with Jesus at Jacob's well. This also is the faith which Thomas had when asked to put his hand in the side of his Lord. But this is not saving faith; for our Lord immediately added, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

4. And sometimes the Bible means the faith of miracles. This was a peculiar gift, bestowed by Christ upon His immediate followers. Now, whatever was the nature of this peculiar endowment, it is evident enough that there was no grace in it to save the soul; for the Saviour Himself declared (Matthew 7:22, 23).

5. Then, lastly, the Bible means saving faith; the true belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, through which we are justified, and by which we live.

II. THE NATURE OF THIS EXERCISE. The old writers used to say that faith was composed of three elements: a right apprehension, a cordial assent, and an unwavering trust. Let me seek to exhibit these in turn in a very familiar way.

1. To apprehend is really a physical act, and means to seize hold of. When applied to mental operation, it signifies to conceive clearly any given object, and hold it before the mind for examination and use. It does not always include a full comprehension. A drowning man may catch a rope that hangs near him, and be rescued by it, without knowing who threw it to him, or who will draw it in, or what vessel it trails from. He apprehends it, but he does not comprehend it. He sees it, but he does not see all with which it is connected. The two essential things for every man to apprehend, are his own need and Jesus Christ's fitness to supply it. There is the inward look, and then there is the outward look. I cannot help myself, and the Saviour can help me are the two thoughts that must lie buried deep in his soul. It matters little how these things are learned.

2. Then comes the second element of faith, already mentioned — namely, assent. This is a step in advance of the other. A simple illustration will make plain what is meant by it. An invalid is sometimes very unwilling to admit his danger, even when he has nothing to oppose to the reasoning of one who proves it. He feels his weakness, but he resorts to a thousand subterfuges to avoid yielding to the physician. His judgment is convinced, but his will is unbroken. He apprehends his danger, and knows the remedy; but he refuses to be helped. What he needs now is assent; and this requires humility and the renunciation of self-will. Faith includes this. It calls for a cheerful submission to God's requirements, the moment we apprehend them, no matter how humiliating the assertion of our ill-desert may be.

3. The third element of saving faith is trust. By this I mean reliance on the truth of what God said He would do; a quiet resting on His promises to accomplish all we need for salvation.

III. THE USE TO BE MADE OF THIS ANALYSIS comes next to view. Your experience hitherto has been something like this. You have seen your need; you have gone in prayer to Jesus confessing it. You said in your prayer, "O Lord, I am vile, I come to Thee; I plead Thy promise that Thou wilt not cast me out; I give myself away in an everlasting surrender; I leave my soul at the very foot of the Cross!" And then you rose from your knees, murmuring, "Oh, I am no better; I feel just the same as before!" You saw that you had made a failure. Now, where was the lack? Simply in the particular of trust. You would not take Jesus at His word. When you have given yourself to Christ, leave yourself there, and go about your work as a child in His household. When He has undertaken your salvation, rest assured He will accomplish it, without any of your anxiety, or any of your help. There remains enough for you to do, with no concern for this part of the labour. Let me illustrate this posture of mind as well as I can. A shipmaster was once out for three nights in a storm; close by the harbour, he yet dared not attempt to go in, and the sea was too rough for the pilot to come aboard. Afraid to trust the less experienced sailors, he himself stood firmly at the helm. Human endurance almost gave way before the unwonted strain. Worn with toil, beating about; worn yet more with anxiety for his crew and cargo; he was well-nigh relinquishing the wheel, and letting all go awreck, when he saw the little boat coming with the pilot. At once that hardy sailor sprang on the deck, and with scarcely a word took the hehn in his hand. The captain went immediately below, for food and for rest; and especially for comfort to the passengers, who were weary with apprehension. Plainly now his duty was in the cabin; the pilot would care for the ship. Where had his burden gone? The master's heart was as light as a schoolboy's; he felt no pressure. The pilot, too, seemed perfectly unconcerned; he had no distress. The great load of anxiety had gone for ever; fallen in some way or other between them. Now turn this figure. We are anxious to save our soul, and are beginning to feel more and more certain that we cannot save it. Then comes Jesus, and undertakes to save it for us. We see how willing He is; we know how able He is; there we leave it. We let Him do it. We rest on His promise to do it. We just put that work in His hands to do all alone; and we go about doing something else; self-improvement, comfort to others, doing good of every sort.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. No faith will carry us through the difficulties of our profession, from oppositions within and without, giving us constancy and perseverance therein unto the end, BUT THAT ONLY WHICH GIVES THE GOOD THINGS HOPED FOR A REAL SUBSISTENCE IN OUR MINDS AND SOULS. But when by mixing itself with the promise which is the foundation of hope, it gives us a taste of their goodness, an experience of their power, the inhabitation of their first-fruits, and a view of their glory, it will infallibly effect this blessed end.

II. The peculiar specificial nature of faith, whereby it is differenced from all other powers, acts, and graces in the mind, lies in this, THAT IT MAKES A LIFE ON THINGS INVISIBLE. It is not only conversant about them, but mixeth itself with them, making them the spiritual nourishment of the soul (2 Corinthians 4:18).

III. THE GLORY OF OUR RELIGION IS, THAT IT DEPENDS ON AND IS RESOLVED INTO VISIBLE THINGS. They are far more excellent and glorious than anything that sense can behold or reason discover (1 Corinthians 2:9).

IV. GREAT OBJECTIONS ARE APT TO LIE AGAINST INVISIBLE THINGS, WHEN THEY ARE EXTERNALLY REVEALED. Man would desirously live the life of sense, or at least believe no more than what he can have a scientifical demonstration of. But by these means we cannot have an evidence of invisible things; at best, not such as may have an influence into our Christian profession. This is done by faith alone.

1. Faith is that gracious power of the mind, whereby it firmly assents unto Divine revelations, upon the sole authority of God the revealer, as the first essential truth, and fountain of all truth.

2. It is by faith that all objections against invisible things, their being and reality, are answered and refuted.

3. Faith brings into the soul an experience of their power and efficacy, whereby it is cast into the mould of them, or made conformable unto them (Romans 6:17; Ephesians 4:21-23).

(John Owen, D. D.)




(R. Balgarnie, D. D.)

First, then, this chapter shows us the different ways and modes of the working of faith. And secondly, it speaks to all characters of persons, showing the manner in which faith will affect particular characters. New men declare faith to be unreasonable. "Acting on trust! " says a godless man, "how strange a mode of acting! Surely those who do it are trusting to some vague fancy or feeling, they scarce know what, and call it faith." I answer, Although the thing which we believe, the object of faith, is most marvellous, yet faith itself, belief in the object, is no such strange or unusual thing. Every man constantly acts on faith, and the very man who laughs at another for acting on faith acts on faith himself every day.

1. That man trusts his memory. He does not now see or feel what he did yesterday, yet he has no doubt it happened as he remembers it.

2. Again, when a man reasons he trusts his reasoning powers; he knows one thing is true, and sees clearly that another follows from that. For example, he sees long shadows on the ground; then he knows the sun or moon is shining without looking round to see. But some one raises an objection. He says, "Very true; but in memory, reason, and daily life we trust ourselves; in religion we trust the word of another, and. that is hard." But there is no real difficulty. In this world we act on the evidence of others. What do we know without trusting others? Are there not towns and cities within fifty miles of us we never saw, yet we fully believe they are there.

(E. Munro.)

Out of the first clause let me observe — That a lively faith doth give such a reality and present being to things hoped for and yet to come, as if they were already actually enjoyed. And thus it is said of Abraham (John 8:56).

I. How DOES FAITH GIVE A SUBSISTENCE OR PRESENT BEING TO THINGS HOPED FOR? How can we be said to have that happiness which we do but expect?

1. By a lively hope it doth as it were sip of the cup of blessing, and foretaste those eternal delights which God hath prepared for us, and affects the heart with the certain expectation of them, as if they were enjoyed. It appears by the effect of this hope, which is rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).

2. Faith takes possession, and gives a being to the things hoped for in the promises. There is not only the union of hope, but a clear right and title; God hath passed over all those things to us in the covenant of grace. When we take hold of the promises, we take hold of the blessing promised by the root of it, until it flows up to full satisfaction. Hence those expressions, believers are said "to layhold of eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:12-19), by which their right is secured to them; "And he that heareth My words, and believeth in Me, hath eternal life" (John 5:24). Christ doth not only say, He shall have eternal life, but he hath a clear right and title to it, which is as sure as sense, though not as sweet. Faith gives us heaven, because in the promise it gives us a title to heaven; we are sure to have that to which we have a title; he hath a grant, God's Word to assure him of it. He is said to haste an estate that hath the conveyance of it, but it is not necessary he should carry his land upon his back.

3. We have it in our Head. That is a Christian's tenure; he holds all in his head by Christ. Though he be not glorified in his own person, he is glorified in his Head, in Jesus Christ. Therefore as Christ's glorification is past, so in a sense a believer's glorification is past; the Head cannot rise, and ascend, and be glorified without the members (Ephesians 2:6).

4. Faith gives being in the first-fruits. The Israelites had not only a right to Canaan given them by God, but had livery of Canaan, where the spies did not only make report of the goodness of the land, but brought the clusters of grapes with them; so doth God deal with a believing soul, not only give it a right, but give it some first-fruits. A believing soul hath the beginnings of that estate which it hopes for; some clusters of Eschol by way of foretaste in the midst of present miseries and difficulties. This is the great love of God to us, that He would give us something of heaven here upon earth, that He wil make us enter upon our happiness by degrees.


1. It is very necessary we should have such a faith as should substantiate our hopes, to check sensuality, for we find the corrupt heart of man is all for present satisfaction. And though the pleasures of sin be short and inconsiderable, yet because they are near at hand, they take more with us than the joys of heaven, which are future and absent.

2. It gives strength and support to all the graces of the spiritual life. The great design of religion is to bring us to a neglect of present happiness, and to make the soul to look after a felicity yet to come; and the great instrument of religion, by which it promoteth this design, is faith, which is as the scaffold and ladder to the spiritual building.

Use 1. To examine whether you have this kind of faith or no, which is the substance of things hoped for. To discover how little of this faith there is in the world, consider —(1) Many men say they believe, but alas, what influence have their hopes upon them? Do they engage them as things present and sensible do?(2) You may discern it by your carriage in any trial and temptation. When heaven and the world come in competition, can you deny present carnal advantages upon the hopes of eternity? do you forsake all as knowing you shall have a thousand times better in another world?(3) If faith do substantiate your hopes, though you do not receive present satisfaction, you may discern it by this, you will entertain the promises with much respect and delight. Are they dear and precious to you? You would embrace the promises if you looked upon them as the root of the blessing.(4) You may discern it by this, the mind will often run upon your hopes. Where the thing is strongly expected, the end and aim of your expectation will still be present with you. Thoughts are the spies and messengers of the soul. Hope sends them out after the thing expected, and love after the thing beloved.(5) You may discern it by your weanedness from the world. They that know heaven to be their home reckon the world a strange country.(6) There will not be such a floating and instability in their expectation. You have already blessedness in the root, in the promises; and though there be not assurance, there will be an affiance, and repose of the mind upon God: if there be not rest in your souls, yet there will be a resting upon God, and a quiet expectation of the things hoped for. Faith is satisfied with the promise, and quietly hopes for the performance of it in God's due time (Lamentations 3:26).

Use 2. To exhort you to work up faith to such an effect, that it may be the substance of things hoped for.(1) Work it up in a way of meditation. Let your minds be exercised in the contemplation of your hopes (Matthew 6:21).(2) Work it up in a way of argumentation. Faith is a reasoning grace (ver. 19).(3) Work it up in a way of expectation. Look for it, long for it, wait for it (Titus 2:13; Jude 1:21).(4) Work it up in a way of supplication. Put in thy claim — Lord! I take hold of the grace offered in the gospel; and desire the Lord to secure thy claim (Psalm 73:24).(5) Work it up in a way of close and solemn application. In the Lord's supper, there thou comest by some solemn rites to take possession of the privileges of the covenant, and by these rites and ceremonies which God hath appointed, to enter ourselves heirs to all the benefits purchased by Christ, and conveyed in the covenant, especially to the glory of heaven; there you come to take the cup of blessing as a pledge of the" new wine in your Father's kingdom" (Matthew 26:29). God here reacheth out to us by deed, our instrument, which was by promise due to every believing sinner before.(6) Work it up in your conversations by constant spiritual diligence. Is heaven sure, so sure as if we had it already, and shall I be idle? Oh what contriving, striving, fighting, is there to get a step higher in the world! How insatiable are men in the prosecution of their lusts I and shall I do nothing for heaven, and show no diligence in pursuing my great happiness!

Use 3. To press you to get this faith. There are some means and duties that have a tendency hereunto.(1) There must be a serious consideration of God's truth, as it is backed with His absolute power.(2) You must relieve faith by experiences: by considering what is past we may more easily believe that which is to come.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. FAITH IS A SUBSTANCE. I know this is not generally received, for such are the vague, carnal, infidel notions that are abroad in the world, that not a grace of the Holy Spirit is owned; and instead of faith being admitted to be a principle of grace, it is spoken of as nature's actings, and is sometimes said to consist merely in the credence of a revealed fact. An opposite party, however, makes faith to consist in a crouching, a cringing, and a conformity to a crafty priesthood. Now I have no such faith as either of these. The one is the faith of the infidel; the other is the faith of heathenism. And they neither of them have any substance. I want a faith that will manifest itself as having substance. I have seen it printed that faith is nothing more than the credence of a revealed fact. But we know that infidels and devils have that sort of faith; for infidels credit thousands of revealed facts, and cannot deny them as matters of fact, yet they have no faith after all. Faith is a substance; and they who are taken up with shadows and vanities do not know the value of it. They cannot value it. They cannot possess it. Faith is a substance worth more than all the miser's stores, than all the monarch's revenue, than all the wealth of India. Faith is a substance that can never be frittered away. It overcomes all the world, repels all the devils in hell, and lays hold on eternal life. But, most probably, you will better understand what I mean by this substance of faith if I lead your attention to its origin and its object. Its origin: It grows not in nature's garden. It is not the produce of the schools. It is not hereditary from father to son. It is far above that. Like every good gift, and every perfect gift, it cometh down from the Father of Lights. It is of the operation of the Holy Ghost, and its object will prove its substance. Its object is Christ; the Person of Christ; the official character of Christ; the perfect work of Christ; the covenant headship of Christ. And the faith of God's elect fastens on all these. Further, the object of faith lies greatly in the enjoyment of Christ as well as in confidence in Him. And this will perhaps bring the nature of your faith to the test better than any other principle. I must have a Christ who will bring heaven to me on earth in the enjoyment of Him here. And this will prove whether your faith is a substance or not. The soul which possesses this living, saving faith, sighs, waits, and cannot be satisfied without the sensible enjoyment of the presence of Christ. That faith which is a substance hath a saving power communicated with it. Hence it is called, sometimes properly, sometimes improperly, a saving faith. Bring your faith up to this test again. It is spiritual faith — the substance of things hoped for, that discovers all that is in Christ; the wisdom, the righteousness, the sanctification, and the redemption that are in Him: the pardon, the peace, the justification, the joy, the security, the victories, the triumphs of all the Church of God in Christ, seen wholly in His Person.

II. This saving faith which so discovers and appropriates Is SURE TO GO AND PLEAD BEFORE THE THRONE IN EXERCISE; "for whatsoever is not of faith is sin," and cannot be acceptable before God; and there it pleads the merits, the name, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ for acceptance, relying upon the declaration of the precious Lord Himself, "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, believing, ye shall receive." Now I pray you let us look closely into this substance, and raise the inquiry, Does it belong to me? "Faith is the substance of things hoped for." Then the first part of the interrogation here would be, What are the things that I hope for? I know if I were to ask the worldling this question, he would reply that he thinks upon worldly prospects, emoluments, and personal gratifications. But not. so the Christian; not so the household of faith. Well, now, if I might simplify this, and put it in the plainest possible manner, I should say that the believer hopes to know more and to enjoy more of Christ to-day than he did yesterday, or than ever he had done before. Faith is the substance of it. The believer in Jesus hopes to be more conformed to the image of Christ; "that as he has borne the image of the earthly, he shall also bear the image of the heavenly." Faith is the substance of that. The believer in Jesus — the real Christian — hopes to attain to more intimacy with heaven and to have a measure of heaven began in the soul on earth. Let us inquire as regards experimental participation. There is such a thing as the joy of faith. There is such a thing as the triumph of faith. There is such a thing as the race of faith, and it is always a winning race. There are joys experienced in this substance which none but the possessor can know. I hasten on to mark its sanctifying operations. The apostle says concerning this, in his account of the progress of the gospel, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, that God "put no difference" between Jews and Gentiles, "purifying" — mark the expression — "purifying their hearts by faith." That faith that will not purify the heart, is not the substance. It may illumine your head till you are giddy; it may enlighten your understanding till you are as proud as Lucifer; it may inflame your pride as a professor till you are as vain as the devil can wish you to be; but if it does not purify the heart, it is not of God — "purifying their hearts by faith."

III. I will now proceed to speak of THE WEALTH WHICH THIS FAITH REALISES. It is a substance. Now, most people are ready to travel a good many miles in order to learn how to acquire wealth. They forego much carnal ease to get riches. But, after all, they make a terrible mistake. This is not true wealth. Riches make to themselves wings, they fly away, and defy all control. But the wealth which faith realises is altogether of a different kind. It has no wings. It is not subject to thieves. It cannot be hoarded up and be useless to its possessor; for it is that good principle which works by love. And thus faith realises the inheritance both of grace and of glory, and by it the title deeds to both are clearly read and lodged in the bosom of Deity. Oh, happy man, who goes so far in the attainment of faith! The wealth which faith realises is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for all who are kept by the power of God through faith. I am not fond of relating anecdotes in the pulpit, but I cannot refrain on the present occasion from telling you one which I heard from my dear father's lips when I was a boy. It was of a godly man who possessed much wealth, and used it for the glory of God, but who lived to prove that he could not clip its wings. All flew away, and he was reduced to living in a furnished room, where he was supported entirely by the charity of his friends. One of his visitors who had been very kind to him, once asked him this question, "How is it that I find you to be as happy now as when you were in possession of all your wealth?" His immediate answer was, "When I possessed all this world's goods I enjoyed God in all; and now I possess none I enjoy all in God." Now that is faith; that is substance; a fine specimen, a fine witness of it.

(J. Irons.)

1. Faith is the confidence — the firm persuasion — of things hoped for. In the ancient games the runner hoped to win the race, to wear the crown of pine or olive leaves around his brow, and to have his name handed down as victor to untold generations; so, in the confidence of this, he strained every nerve and sinew to reach the goal. That was natural faith. The student hopes to win the prize and find his name in the honours list, and he gives his days and nights to reading. The farmer ploughs the land and sows the field, in hope that in due season he shall put in the sickle and gather the harvest. The merchant and tradesman hope to gain a competency or to make a fortune, and put forth their efforts day by day. These are illustrations of natural faith. So it is with the faith that has to do with spiritual things. The Christian sets before him, not the crown of fading leaves, but the crown that shall never fade away, which the Lord will place upon the brow of all who endure unto the end. He seeks for the smile and approbation of the Saviour, for the treasures in heaven, for the bags which wax not old. This is spiritual faith.

2. Faith is the demonstration of things not seen. Columbus believed that there was another world in the western hemisphere; he was as fully assured of its existence as if it had been demonstrated by mathematical proof. Yet he had not seen the new world; he had never looked upon its mighty rivers, or upon the broad expanse of its prairies and savannahs. He had not ever seen in the dim distance the peak of any of its mountains, or the outline of its coast. No navigator had told him, "I have seen the new world; I have cast anchor in its harbours; I have set foot upon it." Yet, in the full conviction that there was another world, he toiled and waited many years, until his eye rested upon it and he landed on its shores. This was natural faith — the demonstration of things not seen. Some years ago the astronomers, Mr. Adams of Cambridge, and M. Leverries of Paris, were convinced that there must be a large planet that had never been seen through a telescope or marked down in any star-map; so they watched the midnight heavens in a certain direction until the planet came within the range of their glass. This was the way the planet Neptune was discovered. This was natural faith. It is even so with the faith that has to do with spiritual things. God is unseen; His glory is dimly reflected in His works. We see the work of His fingers in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Creation is a book in which we may read, page after page, His handwriting, His own Divine autograph; but the Almighty Writer is unseen. In the flowers of the field we see the forms of beauty which He has pencilled and coloured and enamelled; the Divine Artist we see not. We stand and gaze with wonder and admiration upon a part of this beautiful temple of creation, but we see not the Divine Architect; yet, as in St. Paul's Cathedral, we read of the architect, Sir Christopher Wren, "If you seek his monument, look around," so we see in the skill and wisdom displayed in this glorious creation the monument of the Almighty Builder. We believe that God is, and that He is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. We believe in the great love which He has towards us, which He has revealed in Jesus Christ; that, like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him; that He watches over us by day and by night, that His ear is open to our prayer, His arm stretched out for our defence. We believe that He is present with us in the house of prayer, and we can say with the confidence of Jacob, "Surely the Lord is in this place," &c. We believe that He has given to us exceeding great and precious promises, that we may be partakers of the Divine nature; and that, although the heaven and the earth pass away, not one of these promises will fail. We believe in an unseen Saviour, &c.

(W. Bull, B. A.)





Faith is the source of all truly religious feeling, and the ground of all acceptable service. Without it we can neither come to God nor perform any work which is acceptable to Him.

1. Faith is the condition of justification: "Being justified by faith"; "He that believeth is not condemned; he that believeth not is condemned already."

2. It is the source of spiritual life: "The just shall live by faith." "He that believeth hath everlasting life; he that believeth not shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him."

3. It puts us in possession of every Christian privilege.(1) The gift of the Spirit: "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? .... In whom also after that ye believed, .ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise."(2) Adoption into the Divine family: "To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name;" "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."(3) Peace with God and peace of mind: "Being justified by faith we have peace with God;" "He that believeth shall not make haste." Joy in God: "In whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."

4. It is the source of all Christian feeling and action. Our hearts are "purified by faith." Our prayers to be acceptable must be offered "in faith." If we would ask successfully, we must "ask in faith, nothing wavering."

(W. Landels, D. D.)

Faith has many workings, many results, many frets — and some select one of these and call it faith itself. But the text goes to the source when it says, "What faith is this." The word here rendered "substance," means properly the act of "standing under" so as to support something. Thus in philosophical writings it was applied to the essence which forms, as it were, the substratum of the attributes; that supposed absolute existence (of thing or person) in which all the properties and qualities, so to say, inhere, and have their consistence. In this way the word is once applied in Scripture, in the third verse of this Epistle, to the essence of God Himself, and the Divine Son is said to be "the express image of His person" — the very "impress," as it might be otherwise rendered, "of His essence." But there was another use of the word, in which it meant the act of the mind in standing under (so as to support, and bear the weight of) some statement or communication, making, as we say, a heavy demand upon the faculty of believing. It thus passes from the idea of " substance" into that of "assurance" or "confidence." It is thus used by St. Paul in two passages of the second Epistle to the Corinthians, where he speaks of his "confidence" in the readiness of their alms-giving, and again of the "confidence of his glorying," though it be in weakness, about himself. And so, once again, in the third chapter of this Epistle to the Hebrews, we find the expression, "If we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." There can be no question as to the meaning of the word in the verse now before us. "Faith is the assurance of (confidence in) things hoped for." Faith is that principle, that exercise of mind and soul, which has for its object things not seen but hoped for, and which, instead of sinking under them as too ponderous, whether from their difficulty or from their uncertainty, stands firm under them — supports and sustains their pressure — in other words, is assured of, confides in and relies on them. It is not the Christian only who lives by faith. Faith is no dreamy, imaginative, or mystical thing, which it is fanciful if not fanatical to talk of. The schoolboy who expects a holiday, to be earned by his diligence or forfeited by his misconduct, exercises faith in that expectation. the husbandman who expects the harvest is exercising that "confidence in things hoped for" which is faith. The parent who anticipates the manhood of his child is an example of that "walking by faith" which only madmen and fools disparage or dispense with. When Christ bids us to be men of faith, He is not contradicting nature, He is not even introducing into the world a new principle of action; He is only applying a principle as old as Nature herself, to matters beyond and above nature, which it needed a new revelation from the God of nature to disclose and to prove to us. If this proof be given us, it becomes as reasonable to anticipate and to prepare for eternity as it is reasonable to anticipate and to prepare for a holiday or a harvest, a wedding, or a profession. "Faith is confidence in things hoped for"; and whether the expected future be a later day of this life, or a day which shall close this life and usher in an everlasting existence, the principle which takes account of that future is one and the same — only debased or elevated, profaned or consecrated, by the length of the vision and by the character of the object. We must walk by faith if we would not be the scorn and laughingstock of our generation. The only question is, What, for us, are those "things hoped for," which faith makes its object? Are they the trifles of time, or are they the substances of eternity? Are they the amusements, the vanities, the luxuries, the ambitions, which make up the life of earth — or are they the grand, the satisfying, the everlasting realities which God has revealed to us in His Son Jesus Christ — such as the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, victory over evil, the communion of saints, a growing likeness to Christ, a death full of hope, and a blessed immortality in God's presence?

(Dean Vaughan.)

An unseen and heavenly world is required to correspond to our faith just as much as a material world to correspond to our senses. I stand in the midst of nature on some lovely spring morning. The fragrance of flowers from every bright and waving branch, dressed in pale and crimson, floats to me. The song of matin birds falls on my ear. All this beauty, melody, and richness are the correspondence to my nature of the material world through my senses. Now there are inward perceptions and intuitions just as real as these outward ones, and requiring spiritual realities to correspond with them, just as much as the eye requires the landscape, or as the ear asks for sounds of the winds and woods and streams, for the song of birds, or the dearer accents of the human voice. To meet and answer the very nature of man, a spiritual world, more refined modes of existence, action, happiness, must be, else his nature, satisfied and fed in one direction, and that the lowest, is belied and starved in another direction, and that the highest. But, without illustrating further, in this general way, the rooting of faith in the primary ground of our being, let me show the peculiar light in which the great doctrines and practical influences of religion are brought to us, by thus considering "faith" itself as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." And first the great doctrine or fact of the being of a God is one of the things that corresponds to our faith, of which faith itself, as a faculty of the soul, is the basis and evidence. We want no other reason for believing in God. Faith itself is the reason, and the best reason. "He that believeth hath the witness in himself." We need nothing put under our faith to support that, any more than under our direct outward perceptions, our positive knowledge, the dictates of our consciences, or the affections of our hearts, going forth to fix upon their appropriate objects. Like them, it is a radical part of our very constitution — only a part which Christ has come specially to bring out, enrich, and ennoble with the truth he utters, and the actual objects he presents. To the man in whom this principle or sentiment of faith is thus enlivened by meditation, prayer, and the whole stimulus of the gospel, the Supreme One does not appear simply as a first Cause, an original Creator, far back out of our present reach, but as the perpetual Sustainer and Renewer of all things, to whom he joins with the angelic choir of the poet in singing, "Thy works are beautiful as on the first day." His God is near him, nay, with him; breathes upon him in the freshness of the morning; folds him tenderly in the shades of night, and answers every entreating or confiding desire which he silently ejaculates, with peace, sanctity, assurance that can be felt; "the benediction from these covering heavens falling upon him like dew." As, sailing in northern latitudes, the needle dips to an unseen power, so his heart inclines to the unseen power of heaven and earth. With an ever-quickening sense of the Divine Being, comes also, through this vitally unfolded power of faith, the feeling of a share in the permanence of that Being; a persuasion, and, so far as in the flesh such a thing can be, realisation of the immortality of the soul. As we believe in the world below because we have senses, and not because somebody attempts logically to prove it to us, so we believe in the world above by the inner perceptions of faith. In fine, the same faith, while convincing us of this durableness of our real life, redeems us from the bondage of death, to which many, all their lifetime, are subject. Thus the apostle declares of Christ, that he " abolished death." For just in the degree that, through a religious faith, the feeling of immortality grows in the soul, the death of the body loses power to disturb or alarm it. Principles and affections are developed, on which, we know and are inwardly assured, death cannot lay that icy finger which must chill every flowing drop in the circulation of animal life. The spirit, alive to its relations to God and to all pure beings, is conscious of nothing in common with the grave, has nothing that can be put into the grave save the temporary garment that it wears; and its mounting desires, its ardent love, its swelling hopes, its holy communings, are not stuff woven into the texture of that garment, but are as separable from it as the lamp from its clay vase, as the light of heaven from the clod it for a passing moment illumines. In fact, in this state of inward life, the ideas of the spirit and death, of dust and the soul, cannot be brought together, any more than can the ideas of virtue and colour, thought and material size.

(C. A. Bartol.)

It is a certain and evident fact that every one of us is living, every moment, in two worlds: a material world and a spiritual world. All nature, all with which our bodies only have to do is one; all thought and memory and hope, and the inner workings of the mind, all that lies far away out of sight, all beyond the grave, all that concerns other worlds than this, that is the other world. The spiritual world which we cannot see is as real as the material world which is always before us. The power which makes the spiritual world a fact, by which we realise it, is "faith." And that power is one with which it has pleased God to endow us all for that end. And where that " faith" is in full exercise, the unseen becomes more real than the seen — for the seen can only be when it is actually present, and must cease with our natural life, while the unseen, though invisible now, will soon be all that we shall see, and will last for ever. Hence, "faith," which is the sight of the mind, is a far greater thing than the sight of the eyes; for it has to do with the inner nature of a man which he carries with him everywhere, which is always going on: and it takes in, and makes real and present, God and heaven, and all that God hath said and done, or will say and will do; and all the grandnesses of the eternity. It makes "substance" of all these things, and gives "evidence" of our hope that these substances are ours. If I had to define "faith" I should call it a loving trust, a loving, personal approbation, merging into a holy life. But what is the groundwork of faith? what is its warrant? what justifies you in believing all this? God's voice. How does God's voice speak to me? Partly in His word, partly in His works, partly in His whisperings to my soul. There are two things which must never be forgotten about "faith." The one is that though faith is a reasonable and intellectual exercise of the mind, nevertheless it lies more in the heart than in the head. It is not written without a distinct point and sufficient reason, "The evil heart of unbelief." How can you believe and sin? The belief comes from God only. And the second and most important consideration is that all "faith" is a gift. However much you may read and study and think, you will never obtain faith except by prayer. It lies in the sovereignty of God.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Faith is really a sign of human progress. It is the first thing that distinguishes us from the beasts of the field. Let me use an illustration: If there is grass for the ox, the ox feeds; if there be none it dies. It knows nothing of tillage or preparation of the soil for its provender. It knows no future. So, in a measure, is it with the savage. In his rudest state he is only one step above the brute. He hunts for his food, or gathers the wild fruit of the earth. Then take the stage of human life next above this — the simple, wandering, pastoral life. The shepherd or herdsman has to shift his flock from one district to another. He looks forward but a very little. Then comes the agricultural life, in which some provision has to be made for the future. The field is ploughed and sown in prospect of the next year's harvest. Then comes a more civilised age, that of building and teaching. The pious ecclesiastic lays the foundations of some grand cathedral, in which he has faith to believe that future generations will worship. The poet or the prophet speaks, content that men unborn shall acknowledge the truth of his message or his song. And this indicates the onward progress. According as a man is animated by some lofty purpose, so his view is wide and far-reaching. As he is simply selfish, and believes only in his present gains and in what serves his present purpose, so his view and place is small. It is faith, or trust in what is distant and unseen, which alone raises him and makes him great.

(H. Jones, M. A.)

These key-words of Scripture meet the same fate as do coins that have been long in circulation. They pass through so many fingers that the inscriptions get worn off them. We can all talk about faith and forgiveness and justifying and sanctifying, but how few of us have definite notions about what these words that come so easily from our lips mean. There is a vast deal of cloudy haze in the minds of average church and chapel goers as to what this wonder-working faith may really be.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Faith — true, living faith — is not mere blind confidence; it is confidence for a reason.

(Hy. Dunn.)

Faith might perhaps, not improperly, be denominated the repose of the intellect and the repose of the affections; i.e., the understanding perfectly admitting the Divine testimony and the heart confidently trusting the Divine assurances.

(T. Binney)

The evidence of things not seen.
I. First, concerning the ACT. Faith is said to be " the evidence." It is a grace that representeth the things of religion with such clearness and perspicuity of argument, that a believer is compelled to subscribe to the truth and worth of them; as a man yieldeth, when he seeth clear evidence to the contrary. There are in faith four things:

1. A clear light and apprehension. As soon as God converteth the soul, He puts light into it.

2. Faith is a convictive light, that findeth us corrupt and ill-principled, and full of prejudices against the doctrine of the gospel; and it is the work of faith to root out of the soul those carnal prejudices, counsels, reasonings, and carnal excuses which shut out that doctrine which the gospel offereth to us.

3. It is an overpowering and certain conviction, that is, such as dispossesseth us of our corrupt principles, and argueth us into a contrary opinion and belief.

4. It is a practical conviction. He that believeth is so convinced of the truth and worth of these things, that he is resolved to pursue after them, to make preparation for his eternal condition.Use: To put us upon examination and trial, whether we have such a faith or no, as is an evidence or convincing light; you may try it by the parts of it. There is the assent of faith and the consent of faith; a clear light and firm assent, and a free consent to the worth of the things of God.

1. There is a clearness and perspicuity in the light of faith, which doth not only exclude the grossly ignorant, but those that have no saving knowledge.

2. We may know whether faith be an evidence by the firmness of our consent. If men were more convinced there would be a greater conformity in their practices to the rules of religion.

II. I come to the OBJECT, "Things not seen." Faith is an evidence, but what kind of evidence? of things that cannot be otherwise seen, which cloth not disparage the evidence, but declare the excellency of faith. "Not seen," that is, not liable to the judgment of sense and reason. What are those "things not seen"? Things may either be invisible in regard of their nature, or of their distance and absence from us. Some things are invisible in their own nature — as God, angels, and spirits; and all the way and work of the Holy Ghost in and about the spiritual life. Other things are invisible in regard of their distance and absence; and so things past and to come are invisible; we cannot see them with our bodily eyes, but they are discovered to us by faith. In short, these " things not seen," are either matters of constant practical experience, which are not liable to outward sense, or principles of knowledge, which are not suitable to natural reason.

1. Matters of practical experience. The blessings of religion as the enduring substance (Hebrews 10:34), the benefit of affliction, the rewards and supplies of the spiritual life, answers of prayer, they are things not seen in regard of the bodily eye and carnal feeling; but faith expects them with as much assurance as if they were corporeally present, and could be felt and handled, and is assuredly persuaded of them, as if they were before our eyes.

2. Principles of knowledge. There are many mysteries in religion above reason; until nature put on the spectacles of faith, it cannot see them.That the evidence of faith is conversant about things unseen by sense or natural reason.

1. Because much of religion is past, and we have bare testimony and revelation to warrant it; as the creation of the world out of nothing, the incarnation, life, and death of Christ; these are truths not liable to sense, and unlikely to reason — that God should become a man and die. Now upon the revelation of the word, the Spirit of God makes all evident to faith.

2. Much of religion is yet to come, and therefore can only be discerned by faith. Fancy and nature cannot outsee time, and look beyond death (2 Peter 1:9); unless faith hold the candle to hope we cannot see heaven at so great a distance. Heaven and the glorious rewards of religion are yet to come; faith only can see heaven in the promises and look upon the gospel as travailing in birth with a great salvation.

3. That of religion which is of actual and present enjoyment, sense or reason cannot discern the truth or worth of it; therefore faith is still the evidence of things unseen.If the object of faith be things unseen, then —

1. Christians should not murmur if God keep them low and bare, and they have nothing they can see to live upon. As long as they do their duty, they are in the hands of God's providence.

2. In the greatest extremity that can befall us there is work for faith, but no place for discouragement; your faith is never tried till then.

3. A Christian is not to be valued by his enjoyments, but by his hopes. "He hath meat and drink which the world knows not of" (John 4:32).

4. Christ may be out of sight, yet not out of mind.Reproof to those that are all for sense and for present appearance.

1. Such as "do not believe without present feeling.

2. Such as cannot wait upon God without present satisfaction.(1) This is a great dishonour to God, to trust Him no further than we see Him. You trust the ground with your corn, and can expect a crop out of the dry clods, though you do not see how it grows, nor which way it thrives in order to the harvest.(2) It is contrary to all the dispensations of God's providence. Before He gives in any mercy there are usually some trials.(3) It is contrary to the nature of faith.(4) It will weaken our hands in duty when we look to every present discouragement. If faith be such an evidence of things not seen, then let us examine — have we this faith that can believe things not seen? This is the nature of true faith. Hope built upon outward probability is but carnal hope; but here is the faith and hope we live by, that which is carried out to things not seen with the bodily eye.Take these directions to discover it.

1. How doth it work as to Christ now He is out of sight? Alas! to most Christians Christ is but a name, a fancy, or an empty conceit, such as the heathens had of their topical gods, or we of tutelar saints, some for this country and some for that. Do you pray as seeing Him at God's right hand in heaven pleading your cause, and negotiating with God for you?

2. How doth it work as to His coming to judgment? Is the awe of that day upon your hearts? and do you live as those that must give aa account even for every idle word, when the great God of recompenses shall descend from heaven with a shout?

3. How can you comfort yourselves in the midst of all your straits and sorrows with the unseen glory of another world? Do not you faint in your duty, but bear up with that courage and constancy which becomes Christians (2 Corinthians 4:16). 4, How doth it work as to the threatenings of the Word? Can you mourn for a judgment in its causes, and foresee a storm when the clouds are but a gathering?

5. How doth your heart work upon the promises in difficult cases? Thereby God tries you, and thereby you may try yourselves (John 6:5, 6).

6. You may try your assent to the promises by the adventures you make upon God's word.

7. You may know whether you have this faith, which evidenceth things to come, and find out the weakness or strength of it by observing the great disproportion that is in your affections to things of sense, and things of faith. It is true, a Christian is not all spirit, and therefore sensible things work more with the present state of men than things spiritual. But yet certainly in a child of God, one that believes, that hath the evidence of things not seen, there will be some suitableness.

8. You may know whether you have this faith by your thoughts of the ways of God, when they are despised or opposed. Faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, can see a great deal of beauty in a despised way Of God, and glory in a crucified Christ; as the good thief upon the cross could see Christ as a king, when he hung dying on the cross in disgrace (Luke 23:42).To press you to get this faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, that you may believe that which God hath revealed in His Word, and that solely upon God's authority and the account of His Word; to quicken you to get this faith, which is of such great use to you.

1. Consider that all the difficulty in assenting to doctrines of Scripture was not only in the first age.

2. Consider the benefit of a sound conviction. A clear evidence of the mysteries of salvation is a great ground of all reformation of life.

3. The more faith depends upon the warrant of God's Word the better; and the fewer sensible helps it hath, the more it is prized (John 20:29).

4. Sensible things will not work, if we do not believe the Word; those that think Moses and the prophets are but a cold dispensation in comparison of this, if one should come from the dead, for then they would repent and turn to God, let them read (Luke 16:29-31).

5. We have need now to look after this faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, because the great reigning and prevailing sin is infidelity and unbelief; which is seen by our cavilling at every strict truth, by our carelessness in the things of God, by the looseness and profaneness of those that would be accounted Christians.

6. We ought to look to this faith, because none are so resolved in the great matters of faith, but they may be more resolved; no man doth so believe but he may believe more (1 John 5:13).Direction to get and increase this faith.

1. Beg the illumination of the Spirit of God to show you the truth of the Word, and the good things offered therein. This evidence is from the Spirit; thereof Paul prays for the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:17, 18).

2. Employ your reason, serious consideration, and discourse. The devil throws the golden ball in our way, of honour, pleasure, and profit, to divert us from heavenly things; and the intention of the mind being diverted, the impressions of religion are weak and faint.

3. Labour to get a heart purged from carnal affections. Where there is more purity there will be more clearness (Matthew 5:8).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

What a mighty thing as a motive-power this faith must be! If a man is possessed by it, that something can be done; in some sure sense, it is done already, and only waits its time to come into visible existence in the best way it can. Just as one of those noble groups John Rogers fashions for us is done the moment the conception of it has struck his heart with a pang of delight, though he may not have so much as the lump of clay for his beginning; while I might stand with the clay in my hand to doomsday, and not make what he does, because I could not have the " Faith... the evidence of things not seen." What cannot be done, cannot be of faith. There can be no real faith in the soul toward the impossible; but make sure that faith is there, and then you can form no conception of the surprises of power hidden in the heart of it. And, trying to make this thing clear to you, I know of no better way to begin, than by saying, that faith is never that airy nothing which often usurps its place, and for which I can find no better name than fancy — a feeling without fitness, an anticipation without an antecedent, an effect without a cause, a cipher without a unit. A mere fancy, to a pure faith, is as the "Arabian Nights" to the Sermon on the Mount. Then faith is not something standing clean at the other extreme from fancy, for which there is no better name than fatalism — a condition numbers are continually drifting into, who, from their very earnestness, are in no danger of being sucked into the whirlpools of fancy; men who glance at the world and life through the night-glass of Mr. Buckle; who look backward and there is eternity, and forward and there is eternity; and feel all about them, and conclude that they are in the grasp of a power beside which what they can do to help themselves is about what a chip can do on the curve at Niagara. And yet their nature may be far too bright and wholesome to permit them to feel that the drift of things is not on the whole for good. They will be ready even to admit that "our souls are organ-pipes of diverse stop and various pitch, each with its proper note thrilling beneath the self-same touch of God." But, when a hard pinch comes, they smoke their pipe, and refer it to Allah, or cover their face and refer it to Allah; but never fight it out, inch by inch, with all their heart and soul, in the sure faith that things will be very much after all what they make them — that the Father worketh hitherto, and they work. And these two things — the fancy that things will come to pass because we dream them, and the fatalism that they will come to pass because we cannot avoid them — are never to be mistaken for faith. It is true that there is both a fancy and a fatalism that is perfectly sound and good — the fancy that clothes the future to an earnest lad with a sure hope; that keeps the world fresh and fair, as in nature like that of Leigh Hunt, when to most men it has become arid as desert dust; — the bloom and poetry, thank God, by which men are converted, and become as little children. And there is a fatalism that touches the very centre of the circle of faith — which Paul always had in his soul. When sounding out some mighty affirmation of the sovereignty of God, he would go right on, with a more perfect and trusting devotion to work in the line of it. Fancy and fatalism, are the strong handmaidens of faith; happy is the man whose faith they serve. But what, then, is faith? Can that be made clear? I think it can. A young man feels in his heart the conviction, that there in the future is waiting for him a great destiny. Yet that destiny depends on his courage, and that courage on his constancy; and it is only when each has opened into the other, that the three become that evidence of things not seen, on which he can die with his soul satisfied — though all the land he had to show for the one promise was a graveyard; and all the line for the other, a childless son. Another feels a conviction, that here at his hand is a great work to do — a nation to create out of a degraded mob, and to settle in a land where it can carry out his ideas and its own destiny. But the conviction can be nothing without courage; and courage, a mere rushing into the jaws of destruction, without constancy. Only when forty years had gone, and the steady soul had fought its fight, did conviction, courage, and constancy ripen into the full certainty which shone in the eyes of the dying statesman, as he stood on Nebo, and death was swallowed up in victory. And yet it is clear, that, while courage and constancy in these men was essential to their faith, faith again was essential to their courage and constancy. These were the meat and drink on which the faith depended; but the faith was the life for which the meat and drink were made. A dim, indefinable consciousness at first it was, that something was waiting in that direction, a treasure hid in that field somewhere, to be their own if they durst but sell all they had, and buy the field. Then, as bit by bit they paid the price in the pure gold of some new responsibility or sacrifice, the clear certainty took the place of the dim intimation, and faith became the evidence of things not seen. This is the way a true faith always comes. Conversing once with a most faithful woman, I found that the way she came to be what she is lay at first along the dark path, in which she had to take one little timid step at a time. But, as she went on, she found all the more reason to take another and another, until God led her by a way she knew not, and brought her into a large place. Yet it was a long while before any step did not make the most painful drafts on both her courage and constancy. And so the whole drift of what man has done for man and God is the story of such a leading — first a consciousness that the thing must be done, then a spark of courage to try and do it; then a constancy that endures to the end; and then, whatever the end may be — the prison or the palace, it is all the same — the soul has the evidence of things not seen, and goes singing into her rest. Now, then, we want to make sure of three things, then we shall know that this faith is our own —

1. That God is at work without me — that is, the Divine energy — as fresh and full before I came, as the sea is before the minnow comes.

2. That He is at work through me — that is, the Divine intention — as certainly present in my life as it was in the life of Moses; and —

3. That what we do together is as sure to be a success as that we are striving to make it one. There may be more in the graveyard than there is in the home. In the moment toward which I have striven forty years with a tireless, passionate, hungry energy, my expectation may be cut off, while my eye is as bright and my step as firm as ever. It is no matter. The energy is as full, the intention as direct, and the accomplishment as sure, as though God had already made the pile complete. And when, with the conviction that t can do a worthy thing, and the courage to try and the constancy to keep on, I can cast myself, as Paul did, and Moses and Abraham, into the arms of a perfect assurance of this energy, intention, and accomplishment of the Eternal — feel, in every fibre of my nature, that in Him I live and move and have my being — I shall not fear, though the earth be removed, because —

"A faith like this for ever doth impart

Authentic tidings of invisible things;

Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power,

And central peace, subsisting at the heart

Of endless agitation."

(R. Collyer, D. D.)

I. THE OBJECT IS SOMETHING NOT SEEN. Things unseen are not only such things as are invisible, and such as cannot be received by the eye, but also such as are not perceivable by any of our senses. Neither are things insensible meant, but such as are above the reach of reason. So that things unseen are such as are neither perceivable by the sense nor reason, so as to have either an intuitive or demonstrative knowledge of them. These are such as are conveyed to the soul by Divine revelation, without which man could not have known them; and such propositions as the connection of the terms depend upon the will of God.

II. FAITH IS THE EVIDENCE OF THESE THINGS UNSEEN; because we, having a certain knowledge of God's veracity, and His revelation of these things, are as certainly persuaded of the truth of them; and give as firm assent unto them as if they were seen and intuitively and demonstratively known unto us. Yet here you must consider —

1. That though the things and propositions be above reason, yet this persuasion or firm assent and this certain knowledge of the Divine revelation are acts of reason, and in the book of reason are they written.

2. That this object is of greater latitude than the former. For things hoped for, which are to come, are not seen; and not only they, but many things past and present.

3. That the things not seen in this place are not all things not seen, but such as God hath revealed to be the matter and object of our Divine faith.

4. That though substance and evidence may differ, yet both are a firm assent; but in respect of the things hoped for, may include a firm confidence and a certain expectation; for in respect of that object, that assent is more practical than this evidence which respects things unseen; so that here wants but little of a perfect definition.

5. The faith here defined is Divine faith in general, not that which is called justifying as justifying, for that is but a particular branch of this general, looking at a particular object, which is Christ's sacrifice and His intercession.

(G. Lawson.)

In the realm of the unseen faith examines and discriminates. Faith is not credulity. Faith is not the promiscuous acceptance of this, that, and everything which lies out of sight. Faith is the criterion and touchstone of things unseen. When one comes to her with a professed doctrine, saying, "In the world out of sight, the world of spirit and heaven, there exists such or such a truth, such or such a reality, such or such a being;" faith, the faculty by which we take account of the unseen, applies herself to the subject, puts it to the test of Scripture, asks its evidences and examines them, rejects the worthless, ratifies the true, and finally gives judgment upon the result and upon the issue. Faith has lived long enough to know — even from Scripture — how confident sometimes are "lying wonders," how easy it is to find evidences for any folly, how far we might drift from the moorings of truth and duty if we gave heed to every doctrine which professed to rest (as St. Paul once expressed it)upon "spirit, or word, or letter as from us." It is the office of Faith to test and to discriminate things unseen — to decide whether they belong to the revealed invisible, or to the conjectured, imagined, fancied invisible — and according to her judgment upon this question, so to determine the further question, Shall I accept, or shall I refuse? Faith takes God's Word, and tests every professed truth by it. Faith is the touchstone of all matters lying in the region of spirit — she decides whether, for her, they are true or false, by seeing whether they agree, or whether they conflict, with her own one guide, which is the revelation, the inspiration, of God. This exercise of faith implies, then, one earlier. Before faith can test things unseen by the Word of God, she must have that Word, and she must know it.

(Dean Vaughan.)

"Things hoped for" are "things not seen." St. Paul says in the 8th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, "Hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" But the "unseen" is not coextensive with the "hoped for." There are "things not seen" elsewhere than in the future. Faith is wider than hope. Faith has other spheres than futurity. Whatever is invisible, whether past or present or future, is an object of faith. Every fact in history is apprehended by faith. Every past event, every record of birth and death, of battle and revolution, of dynasty founded and fallen, of historical person and character, can be grasped, can be accepted, only by faith. To be assured that certain portions of this island were successively occupied by Roman, by Saxon, by Dane, by Norman — that the established religion of this country was once Pagan, once Romanist, once Puritan — that a sovereign of this country was executed at Whitehall and buried at Windsor — that there ever was such a person as Alexander or Caesar or Napoleon — is an exercise, a strong exercise, of faith. That which is not at this moment seen and handled and tasted — that storm or that Shipwreck or that fire which the public paper tells of as having happened a month ago or happened yesterday, but which we ourselves did not see happen and can only know of by testimony — belongs, for that reason, to the realm of faith. The province of faith is coextensive with "things not seen." And those unseen things may be either future, or past, or present. It is idle to deny that there are such. If we spoke only of earthly existences, how many of these, of the most certain of these, are at this moment out of our sigh! The friend from whom you heard yesterday — the person dearest to you in the world, not now by your side — it is faith, it is not sight, which represents that existence to you as real. But which of us, of the most sceptical of us, denies the fact of spiritual existences, spiritual agencies, which are of necessity, not by accident, but essentially, not now only, but always, things unseen? Faculties, habits, feelings, affections, motives, principles, processes and conditions of thought, laws of cause and consequence, souls and spirits of the dead and living, beings above us, a God of creation and providence, a Father and Saviour and Comforter — in whatever degree, to whatever extent, we have information or conviction of any of these, however confidently or however tentatively we have hold upon any of these, it is faith, faith alone, which grasps or deals with them — they too belong to that vast realm of the unseen, for the contemplation of which faith is the one faculty — that faith which is not only the assurance of things hoped for, but also — it is a far larger and wider term — "the evidence of things not seen."

(Dean Vaughan.)

Faith is a certain image of eternity; all things are present to it; things past and things to come are all so before the eyes of faith, that he in whose eyes. that candle is enkindled beholds heaven as present, and sees how blessed a thing it is to die in God's favour, and to be chimed to our grave with the music of a good conscience. Faith converses with the angels, and antedates the hymns of glory. Every man that hath this grace is as certain that there are glories for him, if he persevere in his duty, as if he had heard and sung the thanksgiving-song for the blessed sentence of doomsday.

(Bp. Jeremy Taylor.)

Faith, having seated itself upon the high tower and mountain — God's omnipotency and all-sufficiency — hath a great prospect. It can look over all the world, and look into another world too.

(W. Bridge.)

Faith altereth the tenses, and putteth the future into the present tense.

(J. Trapp.)

Faith is to sight and reason what the telescope is to the naked eye. By the use of this wondrous instrument the most distant planets are now made known to us in detail. A map of Mars has been published showing canal-like seas, islands and large mountains or table-lands covered with snow. Faith brings the distant near, makes the spiritual the most real, and gives us to dwell in heavenly places.

(H. O. Mackey.)

Men who see the invisible, estimate the more correctly the things temporal and the things eternal.

(T. B. Stephenson, LL. D.)

Christian World.
Dr. Parker, preaching when a dense fog prevailed, said "the fog had taught him to believe in the unseen world more than ever before. Close to him there were oak trees that were hidden the previous day by mist. But he knew them to be there. Men might say, 'If they were there we could see them.' But they are there and you cannot see them! A schoolbay would have laughed in his face if he had said the trees did not exist because the fog hid them. Yet there are men going on to old age who deny the unseen world because they cannot see it. But the trees are there and so are the angels!"

(Christian World.)

We know the power of any appeal to the great names of our secular history. There is no scholar, however humble or obscure, whose exhausted energy is not renewed when he is reminded of the famous students of former times. The honours which cluster and thicken, as the ages roll by, sound the names of great poets, artists, philosophers, statesmen, stimulate the enthusiasm and sustain the energy of those who, in distant times and countries, strive for the same glory. When nations are struggling for freedom, it is not living patriotism alone which gives strength to their arms and daring to their hopes — the memory of the patriots of other lands and of other centuries kindles enthusiasm and inspires heroic endurance. Defeated, while living, in their conflicts with tyranny, they triumph gloriously after death.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

By it the elders obtained a good report.
: —

I. THE FATHERS UNDER THE LAW HAD THE SAME KIND OF FAITH THAT WE HAVE. The same promises; upon the same terms; through the same merit of the blood of Christ.

II. THE APOSTLES ASCRIBE THEIR RENOWN IN THE CHURCH TO THEIR FAITH. Though the private soldiers do worthily in the high places of the field, yet the general bears away the honour, he gets the battle and wins the day; so here, all graces have their use in the holy life, all do worthily in their order and place; love worketh, hope waiteth, patience endureth, zeal sparkleth, and obedience urgeth to duty; but faith bears away the prize, this is the chiefest pin and wheel in the whole frame of salvation. Partly because it is the grace of reception on our part, by which we receive all the influences of heaven, and partly because it directs and quickens all other graces. It feeds hope, it teaches patience to wait, it makes zeal to sparkle, it gives relief to self-denial, and encourageth obedience. Faith is like a silken string, which runs through the chain of pearl; or like the spirits that run with the blood throughout all the veins.

III. THE FAITH OF THE ELDERS WAS AN ACTIVE FAITH, that discovered itself by good fruits and gracious actions; otherwise it could not have brought them into credit with the Church. God only knows the heart. It is actions that discover their faith, and the strength of their assent.


1. For the reasons of God's ordination and appointment. I shall touch upon those that are of a chief regard and consideration.(1) That every necessary blessing may be adopted and taken into the covenant, and provision made against all inconveniences that may befal us in the way of religion. As the Psalmist saith of Zion (Psalm 48:12, 13).(2) Because of the great inconveniences of reproach and infamy, either to God and religion itself, or to good men.(3) That God may retaliate with faith. Believers honour Him, therefore He will honour them (1 Samuel 2:30).(4) That this may be a bait to draw in others to a liking of His ways.

2. In what manner doth the Lord dispense this privilege? And it is grounded upon an objection, that may be framed thus; the servants of God are often clouded with black reproaches, "They took away the spouse's veil" (Song of Solomon 5:7), that is, her honour and name. David complains (Psalm 22:6). Therefore how doth God give in this recompense to the active faith? I answer, in several propositions.(1)The blessing is not absolutely complete in this life. As long as there is sin we are liable to shame. A good name is an outward pledge of eternal glory. When sin is abolished then may we expect perfect glory. In a mixed estate we must look for mixed dispensations.(2) The wicked are not competent judges when they judge of the faithful (Luke 6:26). General applause can seldom be had without compliance, and without some sin; therefore it is spoken as a cursed thing to gratify all, and seek to draw respect from all. There is one rare instance in the third Epistle of John, ver 12.(3) We have the approbation of their consciences, though not the commendation of their lips; and their hearts approve when their mouths slander; and we have their reverence, though not their praise.(4) There are some special seasons when God will vindicate His people from contempt. There is a resurrection of names as well as of persons.

3. Whether in the exercise of faith we may eye a good report? is not this vain-glory? I answer in four things.(1) Our chief care must be to do the duty, and trust God with the blessing; this is the temper of a Christian.(2) If we expect it as a blessing of the covenant, we must rather look for it from God than from men, expect it as the gift of His grace for our encouragement in the ways of religion.(3) All the respect that we have to men is by a greater care of duty, to prevent undue surmises and suspicion (2 Corinthians 8:21).(4) The glory of God and the credit of religion must be at the utmost end of all (Matthew 5:16).Uses:

1. Prize this blessing; it is a sweet encouragement to you in the work of God. I observe that usually men first make shipwreck of a good name, then of a good conscience.

2. Be careful how you prejudice the good name of a believer; you cross God's ordination. How ought you to tremble, when you go about to take off the crown which God hath put on their heads!

3. To press you to this active faith. There is great reason for it upon these grounds.(1) Because there are so many censures abroad.(2) Because there are so few good works abroad.

(T. Manton, D. D.)


1. Who these "elders" were is put beyond dispute by the ensuing discourse. All true believers from the foundation of the world, or the giving of the first promise, unto the end of the dispensation of the Old Testament, are intended.

2. This testimony was given them in the Scriptures; that is, it is so in particular of many of them, and of the rest in the general rules of it.




V. That faith whereby men please God ACTS ITSELF IN A FIXED CONTEMPLATION ON THINGS FUTURE AND INVISIBLE, from whence it derives encouragement and strength to endure and abide firm in profession, against all opposition and persecutions.


(John Owen, D. D.)





V. FAITH CAN MASTER INSUPERABLE DIFFICULTIES. Stormy seas forbid our passage; frowning fortifications bar our progress; mighty kingdoms defy our power; lions roar against us; fire lights its flaming barricade in our path; the sword, the armies of the alien, mockings, scourgings, bonds and imprisonment — all these menace our peace, darken our horizon, and try on us their power; but faith has conquered all these before, and it shall do as much again. Reckon on God's faithfulness. Look not at the winds and waves, but at His character and will. Get alone with Him, steeping your heart and mind in His precious and exceeding great promises. Be obedient to the utmost limit of your light. Walk in the Spirit, one of whose fruits is faith. So shall you be deemed worthy to join this band, whose names and exploits run over from this page into the chronicles of eternity, and to share their glorious heritage.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

1. All obtain some kind of report.

2. Some obtain a great report.

3. All may obtain a good report.

4. All ought to endeavour to obtain a good report.

5. A good report is not easily and at once obtained.

6. A good report is the best of all things that can be obtained. It is the only passport to heaven, and the only imperishable possession.

(D. Thomas.)

Christ crucified for us forms the great object of faith under the Christian dispensation. But the apostle's words, no less than the facts of the case, forbid the supposition that all God's testimony concerning His Son was embraced in the faith of these ancient worthies. In the case of Enoch, for example, the faith which the apostle's argument attributes by implication to him is the general belief "that God is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." In Noah's case no mention is made of any testimony or object of faith, except the Divine warning concerning the coming flood. In the case of Rahab, again, there is nothing in the book of Joshua, or in what the apostle says of her here, which can be construed as pointing to the Messiah. But supposing that in these cases, at least, their faith did not consciously embrace the Messiah, because the Messiah had not been revealed to it, it does not therefore follow either that they were saved in virtue of their faith as a meritorious act, or that they were saved independently of Christ. It is to be noticed, moreover, that the reason why their faith did not embrace so much as we are required to believe, was not because of anything defective in that faith, viewed as a mental act — the effects it produced forbid that supposition — but simply because of the want of a fuller revelation. They had not received the promise in its full and perfect form. Compared with that which we enjoy, their light was but as the dim dawn. And it is a striking testimony to the excellence of the principle, that a faith to which so little was revealed should sometimes so far surpass ours in the wonders which it wrought. Their faith is in fact a model for our own. It was proportioned to the degree of light which they possessed. They believed God's Word in so far as God had spoken to them. It was not that they received only one part of the Divine testimony, and wilfully rejected another — true faith never does that, but receives with equal readiness and confidence whatsoever God says. To believe only so much of what God says as suits our wishes, or accords with our prejudices, or commends itself to our reason, is not to believe the Divine testimony. The result of our own judgment, or our own fancy, it is in no sense faith. He is in no sense a believer who receives only so much of God's Word as pleases him, and gives the lie to all the rest. We insist the more on this because of the practical issues which it involves. Not only is our faith worthless, if it be not ready to give credence to all that God has said, but it will prove ineffectual for salvation, however much it may embrace, if it receive not the one truth which assures us of the freeness of the Divine love to us through Christ Jesus — that truth which constitutes the burden and substance of the gospel message. Even the faith of those earlier saints, limited as was the testimony presented to it, tended to this result. The revelations of God which they had received, declared or implied His righteousness and His friendship for man — a righteousness which would not allow sin to pass with impunity, and a friendship which promised mercy to those who would repent of sin and seek after God. Faith in these would naturally suggest to the believing soul the difficulty of their being exercised consistently with each other. But it would also convince them that, notwithstanding that difficulty, the Divine promise would be fulfilled. If the revelation given said how it was to be done, the same faith would receive its testimony. But if not — if the dim foreshadowing of the coming Saviour left them in ignorance of how God's promise could be fulfilled consistently with His righteousness — faith would nevertheless assure them of its fulfilment, and calmly receive it and rely on it, leaving Him to determine how it was to be accomplished; for the province of faith is to receive what God says, simply because He says it, not to show how God's Word can be true. In this way, we imagine, the faith of some of these earlier saints operated. Believing in God's righteousness, and yet believing His promise to forgive and receive those who came to Him, they verbally and by sacrifice made confession of their sins and evil deserts, and yet trusted to Him to find a way of rendering the fulfilment of His promise consistent with His own righteousness. Thus their faith wrought in them reconciliation to, and trust in God, and thereby proved the means of their salvation. It will now appear how it is that, although they might be saved, without conscious and intelligent faith in Christ we cannot — how it is that the revelation we are favoured with places us in a position entirely different from theirs. It is because that revelation is a test of the true state of our minds in relation to God. Possessed of it, if we do not believe in Christ we reject the Divine testimony, and prove that we have no faith in anything which God says, but are still in a state of unbelief and rebellion and enmity. In fine, in the absence of a revelation, confidence in God and submission to His will were possible, though under the circumstances faith in Christ was impossible. Whereas, in possession of a revelation, the want of faith in Christ shuts us out from a state of confidence in God, and submission to His will, and must therefore debar us. from the enjoyment of salvation.

(W. Landels, D. D.)

The "for," like so many "fors" in Scripture, rests upon a word or two unwritten. As if it were said, "A mighty grace" — "An ancient grace" — "A worldwide and an age-long grace" — "for by it" — or rather, "in it," on the subject of it, on the strength of it — "the elders," they of the old time, the saints and servants of God from the very beginning, "obtained a good report"; "were attested," were borne witness of, received an approving testimony, from Him who alone is the faithful and true witness, God Himself in His holy Word. In many things they and we are widely separated. But this verse teaches us the unity of all ages and all countries in one single comprehensive principle. In this "faith," the apostle says, to which I exhort you — his "faith" of which you will have so special a need in these coming days of trial and temptation — in this "faith" they lived and died to whom God in Scripture bore His emphatic testimony: in this, and no other — this same assurance of things not possessed but hoped for — this same discrimination of things not seen nor touched nor handled, yet existing in all the changeless reality of a world indestructible because immaterial, eternal because Divine. If we would ever know unity, we must seek it in the life of faith. Unbelief, like sin — unbelief, which is sin — is division, is disunion, at once. No two unbelievers, no two sinners, can be at one. Unity is to be found only in faith. Two men who are distinctly conscious of one God, one Lord, one Spirit — two men who are resolutely bent upon giving up everything contrary to the Divine Will as they read it — two men who are living holy lives in the pursuit of a life beyond death, everlasting and eternal — are at one with each other, whether they know it or not — for they are both living that life of faith in which the elders, like the men that are now, obtained a good report.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Character is man's noblest possession, the accomplished design of renewing grace, the crown and glory of human life. By virtue of it a man takes rank with the peerage of heaven, and holds an estate in the general goodwill. It is much more true that character is power than that knowledge is power. History teaches us that moral forces are the real rulers of the world. The influence of wealth is feeble in comparison with the influence of tried worth. No one is shut out from obtaining this best of all distinctions, this most priceless of all possessions. Every one should aim to deserve a good report. The text admonishes us how it is to be obtained. "By faith" the elders attained that excellence of character which gave them favour in the sight of God and man. Faith is declared to be the foundation and strength of character.

I. FAITH MAKES MEN MASTERS OF THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES. There are some persons who seem to have no character of their own. When hemmed in by moral restraints and moving in an atmosphere of religion, they exhibit a negative colourless goodness; but let them be thrown into a tide of dissipation and they yield without a struggle, and go with the multitude to do evil. The first truth, then, for faith to grasp is this: "I am a spiritual and immortal being, with power to choose my own lot, determine my own course, and form my own character. If I allow myself to be the sport of circumstances, I shall be unstable as water and never excel; but if I have faith in the invisible might of energy, and in the ultimate success of perseverance, I shall obtain the prize of my high calling."

II. NEXT COMES THE CONVICTION OF OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO GOD FOR THE USE OF THIS POWER. A great many wise decisions and virtuous struggles with temptation go to the building up of a good character. Human nature is a marshy soil for such a .structure, and needs a great deal done under ground and out of sight before its ,stability can be secured. There must be a strong foundation of moral concrete, of conscientiousness. But this cannot be laid without frequent appeals to conscience, and its judgments will be wavering and obscure unless faith unstops the ear to hear the sanction of God's voice. It is a sheet-anchor to a man in temptation, if he have sufficient faith in God's presence and authority to make him say, "How shall I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" Again, faith in God as our omnipotent Father and the Judge of all, creates a habit of referring everything to conscience. Believe that for every opinion you adopt you will be called to answer before God, and you will be careful not to take up hastily with any, and not to hold them in the clenched fists of prejudice.

III. MOST MEN WHO HAVE ATTAINED A GOOD REPORT HAVE HAD A DEFINITE PURPOSE IN LIFE, AND A CLEARLY DEFINED NOTION OF THE PLACE GOD INTENDED THEM TO FILL. Our forefathers had a deep impression of the Divine hand shaping the course of an ordinary man's life; hence they spoke of his business or occupation as his "calling." So long as a man's trade is useful to the community, fitted to serve the comfort or refinement of society, he has as much reason to believe that God has called him to it as he has to believe that God designed the earth to bring forth food for man's support. And, depend upon it, man will turn out all the better work, and do his duty with all the greater care, for believing that God accepts it as a service to Himself. In every walk of life we shall find scope for a career of usefulness and happiness, provided we buy up its opportunities. To begin with the duty lying nearest to us is the way to fulfil our mission.

IV. FAITH IN THE IMPERISHABLE WORTH OF TRUTH is another most necessary element in the formation of an honourable character. Integrity in word and deed is the backbone of character, and loyal adherence to veracity its most prominent characteristic. Seldom has a finer eulogium been pronounced upon any man than was spoken by the late Duke of Wellington on the occasion of the death of Sir Robert Peel. He said: "I was long connected with him in public life. We were both in the councils of our sovereign together, and I had long the honour to enjoy his private friendship. In all the course of my acquaintance with him, I never knew a man in whose truth and justice I had greater confidence or in whom I saw a more invariable desire to promote the public service. In the whole course of my communication with him I never knew an instance in which he did not show the strongest attachment to truth; and I never saw, in the whole course of my life, the smallest reason for suspecting that he stated anything which he did not firmly believe to be the fact."

V. BY FAITH, FEELING THEIR OWN WEAKNESS, THE EXCELLENT OF THE EARTH LAID HOLD ON THE STRENGTH OF GOD. In reference to all the distinctive traits of Christian character, we may say without the slightest qualification, "Severed from Christ, and without faith in His helpful Spirit, you can do nothing." These heavenly fruits of character do not grow on the wild olive-tree of humanity, but only after it has been grafted into the good olive-tree, the Lord Jesus Christ. They imply the possession of so much which a man who has only the prudential virtues, after the fashion of the world, is wholly destitute of. They imply faith in God's omniscience and care and a hope of eternal glory; they imply convictions which have broken the heart, made it jealous for God's honour, humbled it at the feet of Divine mercy, and inspired it with a love of peace and gentleness. Without these convictions and sentiments such traits of character are impossible. There is neither motive for them nor meaning in them. They are the fruits of the Spirit, and only possible, therefore, in those who have the Spirit. But in every age God has given His Holy Spirit to such as sought His aid.

(E. W. Shalders, B. A.)

Auvergne, a Breton warrior, called Grenadier of France, died fighting for his country. As a memorial, his comrades decided that his name should still stand on the rolls. It was regularly called, and a comrade answered for him, "Dead on the field." So is Hebrews 11., a roll-call of the victorious dead, a regimental register of God's heroes.

In almost every capital of Europe there are varieties of triumphal arches or columns upon which are recorded the valiant deeds of the country's generals, its emperors, or its monarchs. You will find, in one case, the thousand battles of a Napoleon recorded, and in another you find the victories of a Nelson pictured. It seems, therefore, but right that faith, which is the mightiest of the mighty, should have a pillar raised to its honour, upon which its valiant deeds should be recorded. The apostle undertook to raise the structure, and he erected a most magnificent pillar in the chapter before us. It recites the victories of faith.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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