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when fixed on an only child, and that the son of old age? Strong as is a parent's love, faith is yet stronger. Look at this same venerable patriarch, as he moves up the mountain with his tenderly beloved Isaac. Look at him, as he calmly builds an altar and places the wood upon it. See him with unshaken firmness bind his son and lay him on the wood. See him stretch forth his hand and take the knife, with full purpose to slay the dear child. God has so commanded--and he dares not refuse. He believes God is able to raise him even from the dead. O how triumphant his faith! If we except the actual sacrifice of an only-begotten Son, some centuries after, by a still more tender Father, where shall we find a scene so sublime !

The love of wealth is another strong principle in man. Persons of every age and rank are seen under its control. Its empire in the world is very broad. It has despotic sway. Yet how complete and glorious the victory which faith has been known to achieve over this passion! My eye fixes at once on Moses, " when by faith he forsook Egypt," " esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt." It was as if the possessor of an immense fortune were at this day cheerfully to relinquish the whole, that he might the better labor and suffer for Christ, and then go to inherit “ durable riches” in heaven.

And now look at this man of God once more. He was called "the son of Pharaoh's daughter.” The honor and the power of a prince were his: within his reach, the gay but guilty pleasures of a court. How then shall we account for his voluntary abandonment of these glittering objects. The love of power alone has often drenched whole kingdoms in blood. In the persons of conquerors and despots what fearful havoc has it made of liberty, property, and life! The love of honor is also a very strong passion by itself. The love of pleasure, too, controls its millions. But here is a man in favorable circumstances to feel in all their force and to gratify these strong propensities of our nature; and yet he gains a complete conquest, not merely over some one of them, but over them all. Yes, by faith Moses obtains an easy and triumphant victory over the combined influence of these four strong principles in human nature love of money, love of power, love of honor, love of pleasure. He turns from the whole array of earthly allurements to the service of God, lifting his eye to a brighter crown, to wealth more abundant, and to pleasures more pure and enduring.

Perhaps the strongest principle in our nature is desire of self-preservation, called love of life or dread of death. It seems to be a sort of instinct common to all animals. But even this has yielded to faith. Yes, the maxim, “ all that a man hath will he give for his life," does not always hold true. To the devoted servant of God there is one thing more dear than life itself—the divine favor. Look at Daniel. With all his love of life, he chooses rather to be cast among the lions than to incur the frown of God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, also, were men of like passions with us: equally capable of horror at the sight of a furnace open to receive them. Yet mark how faith gives them victory. In defiance of the king's wrath, they say meekly, but firmly; “ God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, 0 king;" we believe he will. “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” With this noble resolve, they surrender to his fury and the flames.

Thus far, we have noticed detached victories on inspired record, which faith has achieved in very unlike circumstances. We turn, now, to a series of triumphs in the case of Paul, which, if not more signal than the preceding, may yet show in a stronger light the long continued operation of this grace. For, in common warfare, the prowess of a soldier is better exhibited in a long, perilous, bloody campaign, than in one or a few battles, however tremendous. No sooner does the proud youth of Tarsus become a disciple of the despised Jesus, than he undervalues the lessons which he has learned in the schools of Gamaliel, and renounces without a sigh all his flattering earthly prospects. His lofty mind is at once humble and docile, and he ever afterward finds his delight at the feet of Christ, receiving his instructions as a little child, satisfied with his bare testimony on all subjects above his own comprehension. His late pride of intellect subdued, he is willing to be called “ the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things”—he can even “rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus.” Nor can any array of dangers daunt his spirit, or any endurance of sufferings lessen his ardor. From the date of his conversion he goes forth a champion of the cross, in the face of poverty and contempt, authority and threats, imprisonment, and death itself. And he goes fearlessly, he is “ bold as a lion.” The following summary of evils which he was allowed to suffer in honor of his Master, is from his own pen : “Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods ; once was I stoned ; thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day have I been in the deep. In journeyings often; in perils of waters; in perils of robbers ; in perils by mine own countrymen ; in perils by the heathen; in perils in the city; in perils in the wilderness; in perils in the sea; in perils among false brethren ; in weariness and painfulness; in watchings often; in hunger and thirst; in fastings often; in cold and nakedness.”—What a catalogue of sufferings is here! And by what mighty principle was the apostle carried forward through the whole? How shall we account for the fact that “he fainted not ?" that in the midst of his sufferings we even hear his songs? He himself has told us : “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God." Yes, it was faith working by love, its “twin sister.” This gave him victory in every conflict. He had no doubt of the great system of truth, and the unseen realities which God has revealed. He went forward as one who saw and knew these things to be realities. And he therefore knew that all the “light afflictions” he could suffer in the present life were not worthy to be compared with that “ weight of glory” which he had in prospect. So long as none of his trials could separate him from the love of Christ,” he was quite willing to endure them all. “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus.” He saw his crown, by faith, as clearly as if hung out of heaven, and declared to be his by the immediate voice of God. And he saw, too, how every affliction would add new splendor to that crown :-he saw it daily brightening, and thus he went forward joyfully, “fighting the good fight of faith." Moreover, he saw an infinitely brighter crown than his,—and he was eager to return love for love, and suffering for suffering, in gathering new jewels for the diadem of his Almighty Redeemer.

Here, then, we see the operation of faith to great advantage ;—not in one victory, however splendid, nor yet in a series of brilliant triumphs of a single class :--no, here is victory upon victory—triumph upon triumph, in every variety of conflict, through a long course of years. Not one defeat in the whole time. Not one inglorious wound. Not one tremor of cowardice ;--as if God would show how much a single Christian can do and suffer under the strong impulse of gospel faith.

From the preceding works of faith it would seem not difficult to ascertain,

II. SOME OF ITS LEADING CHARACTERISTICS.

In the first place, it is a belief in divine testimony respecting unseen things, with corresponding affections, purposes, and actions. So far as the things believod are lovely and desirable, “ faith works by love" to obtain them. So far as they are unlovely, or objects of dread, faith works by aversion or fear to avoid them:—thus Noah's faith operated through the passion of fear, when he built the ark. So far as the things believed afford ground of confidence, faith leads the soul to trust in them. So far as they relate to Christ, the bright center of revealed truth, and the hope of a lost world, faith prompts to a reliance upon him, as a divine, all-sufficient, altogether lovely and glorious Savior. So far as they require outward action, faith urges on to this result ; and without external works is not made perfect. And as the entire system of truth presented to the eye of faith is most pure and holy, persons under its influence do of course “purify themselves by faith.” Do any object to this definition as too complex? I ask, if one more simple would include the whole idea of faith, as gathered from its works? Is it defined, “ the simple belief of the simple truth?"--an exercise of the understanding merely--separate from affection, volition, and action-having complete existence by itself? Such faith, “ being alone,” an apostle has declared “ dead.” It is not the thing we are now considering. That, as we have seen, has vitality. It works. It brings into action the various faculties of soul and body. In its higher exercises, it exerts a controlling influence over the whole man. This “ faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;" it leads its possessor, in his feelings, purposes, and actions, to regard “ the things that are seen and temporal,” far less than “the things that are unseen and eternal.” It conducted Noah, Moses, Daniel, and Paul up to heaven: it will be a safe guide thither in all future time.

2. Faith is a reasonable thing. Some, with a contemptuous smile, would mark it as the essence of fanaticism-a delusion of the weak or the ignorant. But is not the process highly rational, by which its nature is ascertained ? Is it not the favorite mode of sound philosophy to learn the properties of things by their effects? Besides, what is more rational than a belief in the sayings of Him who cannot lie? a belief, too, that wakes up the affections and controls the life? And what more rational than a sacrifice of present good for something better in sure prospect ? Such faith, enthusiasm ! Far from it. No, it is the perfection of reason to believe, not this false world, not the father of lies, but God; and especially to believe Him on subjects of too large grasp for our puny minds, and quite beyond the range of our senses, not excepting his declarations on the high mysteries of the Trinity, and the atonement of his well-beloved Son. It is the perfection of reason to prefer the more ex-. cellent things; and such are the objects of faith—in kind and duration far superior to the objects of sense, and better suited to our deathless souls. The way of faith is then the way of truth and soberness. The man who takes it has no cause to blush. No, it is the opposite character -he who believes not “the true sayings of God”-he who feels not and acts not in accord with these announcements of Heaven; this man's course is glaringly irrational ; for he rejects the very best of testimony.

3. Faith is bold and unbending. It gives decision and inflexibility of purpose and action,—not from obstinacy, ambition, or other unworthy motive—but simply because it rests on immutable truth. A child of stern principle, not of circumstances, its recreation is to meet and surmount obstacles. The hardy plant can flourish amid snows, and mountains, and tempests. Yet a person under its influence may be meek as Moses, while firm as Daniel. He may even imitate “ the meekness and gentleness of Christ,” with none of that pliancy of conscience which sacrifices the plain will of God to considerations of interest or expediency. The man of sterling faith has his eye raised from earth to heaven. His ear is less open to the voice of man than of God. In time of emergency, he asks not, with pale and palpitating solicitude, What course will expose me to least danger ? What will best secure my own ease, reputation, or pecuniary interest? What will gratify friends ? What will this man of wealth or that man of influence approve ? What will be popular in the community ? Were these the chief questions, Noah had never built an ark, Moses had not turned his back on the glittering throne of the Pharaohs, and Daniel had failed to be “ greatly beloved" of God. But, with the man of faith, the first and the last great question is, What is the mind of God? This point settled, he lays his course, and turns not to the right hand to grasp a crown, or to the left to escape a wheel of torture.

4. Faith is very powerful. We have seen the proof, not in abstract reasoning, but in facts--in its actual works, exhibited by sundry devoted servants of God. Here is not theory but experiment, triumphant experiment, in accord with the inspired declarations ; " This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith"_" Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ?” We have just now seen how faith prompts its possessor to take his elevated course, in spite of the world's frown or smile, and to overcome all that is in it, “ the lust of the flesh, the last of the eye, and the pride of life.” It is thus a conqueror of the world, not like Alexander, but in the highest and

best sense.

Let the world bring out her whole array of power. Let her display the nameless attractions of home and country, and add to these the strongest endearments of relationship, and attempt to confine within such limits the affections and the desires : what can it avail with one who has

taken Christ for his Master and Lord, and who hears him

say;

“ He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me?" Or let the world spread out her hills and valleys, her flocks and herds, her gold and silver and diamonds, her ease and her luxuries ; let her come, too, with her learning and titles, her crowns, her pompous magnificence, to allure the man of faith from the path of duty; and let Satan concentrate in one fascinating spot “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” and offer immediate and full possession—the bribery utterly fails; --faith lifts the soul above the whole, as if they were children's toys: it counts them as nothing and vanity in its eager pursuit of the real, endless glories of heaven.

Unsuccessful here,- let the world now suddenly change her smiles for frowns. Let her point at the believer her finger of scorn, and toss up her head, and look down upon him with contempt, and add poverty to reproach ; let her bring forth the terror of her laws and customs, with the strength of her kings and armies, to compel obedience; let her set open the foul and dark recesses of her prisons, and show her instruments of torture, and heat her furnaces, and make her lions roar fearfully : 'tis all in vain. Faith, like the servant of the son of Shaphat, still sees a more powerful array with her than against her. She has often triumphed over such foes, and she can again. Yes ; and if the world could bring out far brighter charms and darker frowns than are now in her storehouse, faith would still get the victory.

5. Another attribute of faith is sublimity. The scene spread out before its eye, how vast! how boundless! even the whole circle of revealed truth. For “ faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Here is the unseen world in all past ages—so far as the Scriptures place it before us—and added to this, the unseen world as it now exists; and then the prophetic view, down to the end of time, and onward for endless ages.

the
eye
of faith

ranges back to the beginning, and forward for ever and ever, upward to heaven, downward to hell. What length, and breadth, and height, and depth! And then, the stupendous exhibitions of power and wisdom, of grace and justice, of bliss and wo, that come within the view !

The perfections of Jehovah, with their grand results ! Here are things vast to be admired, things excellent to be loved and sought, things revolting to be shunned. How unlike the trifles of earth! How suited to expand the intellect, to improve the moral feelings, to ennoble the whole man! Here is room for the largest grasp of mind. How then can the believer, whose“ eye

affecteth his heart," dwell amid these scenes-be familiar with them, and not be wakened to intense interest? How can his mind fix, as in a trance, upon his own Redeemer, the bright center of this scene of magnificence, and his soul not burn with a holy desire to be clothed in his likeness? Such was the fact with Paul, and such has been the truly heroic and sublime course of not a few kindred spirits. The sons of earth may misname the objects and the works of faith low and contemptible; but the light of a burning world will show alike the dignity of these and the vanity of all inferior things.

6. Another obvious characteristic of faith is its moral excellence. The

Yes,

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