Have faith in God. I.
WHAT FAITH IS.
1. Taking God at His word, about things unknown (Hebrews 11:7), unlikely (Hebrews 11:17-19), untried (Hebrews 11:28).
2. Trusting Jesus at His invitation. Trust your soul to His care; your sins to His cleansing; your life to His keeping.
II. WHENCE FAITH COMES.
1. From God's grace (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 12:3)
2. From God's Word (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:15).
3. From God's working (1 John 5:1; Colossians 2:12).
4. Out of the heart (Romans 10:10).
III. HOW FAITH WORKS.
1. It overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).
2. It purifies the heart (Acts 15:8, 9).
3. It works by love (Galatians 5:6).
Many years ago, when in my country charge, I returned one afternoon from a funeral, fatigued with the day's work. After a long ride, I had accompanied the mourners to the churchyard. As I neared my stable door, I felt a strange prompting to visit a poor widow who, with her invalid daughter, lived in a lonely cottage in an outlying part of the parish. My natural reluctance to make another visit was overcome by a feeling which I could not resist, and I turned my horse's head towards the cottage. I was thinking only of the widow's spiritual needs; but, when I reached her little house, I was struck with its look of unwonted bareness and poverty. After putting a little money into her hand, I began to inquire into their circumstances, and found that their supplies had been utterly exhausted since the night before. I asked them what they had done. "I just spread it out before the Lord!" "Did you tell your case to any friend?" "Oh no, sir; nobody knows but Himself and me. I knew He wouldn't forget, though I didn't know how He would help me, till I saw you coming riding over the hill, and then I said, 'There's the Lord's answer.'" Many a time has the recollection of this incident encouraged me to trust in the loving care of my heavenly Father.
()One winter morning, a poor little orphan boy of six or eight years begged a lady to allow him to clean away the snow from her door. "Do you get much to do, my little boy?" said the lady. "Sometimes I do," he replied, "but often I get very little." "And are you never afraid that you will not get enough to live on?" The child looked perplexed a moment, and then answered, "Don't you think God will take care of a boy if he puts his trust in Him, and does the best he can?"
Gotthold saw several sailors step into a boat to cross a river. Two took the oars, and, as usual, turned their backs upon the shore to which they intended to sail. A third stood and kept his face unaverted on the place where they wished to land, and which they very speedily reached. "See here," he said, to those about him, "what may well remind us of our condition. Life is a mighty river, rapidly flowing into the ocean of eternity, and returning no more. On this river we are all afloat in the bark of our vocation, which we must urge forward with the oars of industry and toil. Like these sailors, therefore, we ought to turn our back upon the future, put our confidence in God, who stands at the helm, and by His mighty power steers the vessel to where happiness and salvation await us, and diligently labour, unconcerned about anything else. We would smile, were these men to turn round and pretend that they could not row blindfold, but must needs see the place to which their course was directed; and it is no less foolish in us to insist on apprehending, with our anxieties and thoughts, all things, whether future or at hand. Let it be our part to ply the oar and toil and pray; but let us leave it to God to steer and bless and govern. O my God, be with me in my little bark, and bless it according to Thy good pleasure! I will turn my face to Thee, and, as Thou shalt enable me, I will diligently and faithfully labour; for all else Thou wilt provide."
A little child, whose father and mother had died, was taken into another family. The first night she asked if she might pray, as she used to do. They said, "Oh, yes." So she knelt down, and prayed as her mother had taught her; and when that was ended, she added a little prayer of her own: "O God, make these people as kind to me as father and mother were." Then she paused, and looked up, as if expecting an answer, and then added, "Of course you will." How sweetly simple was that little one's faith; she expected God to "do"; and, of course, she got her request.
An industrious tradesman had fallen on bad times; his business would not prosper, and he lost heart. His wife, however, kept cheerful; she went on praying, and tried to hearten up her husband. But it was no use; he kept on saying there was no hope for him, and he might as well go out of life, for there was nothing good to be looked for. One morning the cheery wife came down with a face as sad as her husband's. "What's the matter?" said he. "Oh," she replied, with a shudder, "I've had such a dreadful dream. I dreamt God was dead, and all the angels were going to His funeral!" "What nonsense!" said her husband. "How can you be so silly? Don't you know God can't die?" She thought a moment, and then brightened up. "That's true," she answered. "But, oh, husband! if He can't die, He can't change, either. He has taken care of us all our lives: why should we begin to think He has forgotten us now? It'll only be a passing cloud, may be, that's hiding the sun, just to try us. Let us trust Him through it all." "You're right, wife," said the man. "Seems to me I've believed in God without trusting Him. Let us ask Him to forgive me this sin of mistrust May be my ill luck has been a punishment for that same, sent to open my eyes." However that may have been, the tide did turn, and neither man nor wife ever mistrusted God again.
It is not only to faith, as a general spiritual force of boundless potency and value, that our Lord here directs our thoughts; but also, and more particularly, to the faith which sees what things are useless and ready to die, and puts them out of the way; the faith which confronts obstacles as big as solid mountains, and yet is sure that it can remove or surmount them; the faith which faints at no difficulty, no apparent impossibility even, but attacks even the greatest of them with courage and good hope. This is the faith to which Christ here invites us — the faith which He Him. self exercised, not only when He banned the fig tree, but also when He set Himself to save and raise the world against its will, and had therefore to face a world in arms. It is the faith which believes truth to be stronger than error, righteousness than unrighteousness, good than evil, even though all the world should have espoused the losing cause. It is the faith which believes not only that spiritual energies are stronger than material forces, but also that the good spiritual forces of the universe are stronger than its evil forces, and are sure to overcome them in the end. Nothing seems more doubtful to us at times than the victory of faith over the world; yet nothing is more certain. The whole history of the world is one long continuous testimony to the fact, that it is by faith in great principles that men are really swayed. What is the history of every great movement by which the world, or any portion of it, has been raised, purified, reformed, and renewed, but just this: Faith in some great truth or principle — faith in justice, faith in freedom, faith in wise laws and deep convictions — has grown to enthusiasm in a few hearts; and in the power of this faith they have spoken and toiled, facing and gradually beating down all opposition, detecting signs of decay in the most venerable and solidly established institutions, customs, statutes, and dooming them to perish; encountering whole mountains of obstacle and difficulty, yet taking them up and at last casting them into the sea.
There is Christ's command itself.
2. God's own character demands this faith.
3. God's gifts claim and warrant faith.
4. The way in which we specially honour Him is by having faith in Him.
5. Unbelief profits nothing.
6. Faith has dons wonders in time past, and it can do wonders still.
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