« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
When Abraham was called to go out of his own land, he knew not whither he was going; to what country, or to wbat kind of residence. He knew not whether the people would prove friends or enemies, kind or cruel, comfortable or uncomfortable neighbours to him ; nor whether his own situation, and that of his family, would be happy or unhappy. Wholly uninfluenced by these considerations, and all others, by which men are usually governed in their enterprises, he still adventured upon an undertaking in which his own temporal interests and those of his family were finally embarked. Why did he thus adventure? The only answer to this question is, he was induced to go by a regard to the character of the person who called him. This regard was of a peculiar kind. It was not reverence, love, nor admiration. Neither of these is assigned by the apostle as the cause of his conduct. They might, they undoubtedly did, exist in his mind; but they did not govern his determination.
The emotion, by which he was compelled to leave his home, was confidence. God summoned him to this hazardous and important expedition, and he readily obeyed the summons. The true and only reason was, he confided entirely in the character and directions of God. God, in his view, was a being of such a character, that it was safe, and in all respects desirable, for Abraham to trust himself implicitly to bis guid
Such were his views of this glorious being, that to commit himself, and all his concerns, to the direction of God was, in bis estimation, the best thing in his power; best for him, and best for his family. He considered God as knowing better than he knew, and as choosing better than he could choose for himself. At the same time he experienced an exquisite pleasure in yielding bimself to the direction of God. The divine character was, to his eye, beautiful, glorious, and lovely; and the emotion of confiding in it was delightful. Sweet in itself, it was approved by his conscience, approved by his Creator, and on both accounts doubly delightful.
The prime object of this confidence was the moral character of God; his goodness, mercy, faithfulness, and truth. Unpossessed of these attributes, he could never be trusted by us. His knowledge and power would, in this case, be merely objects of terror, and foundations of that dreadful suspense, which is finished misery. The confidence of Abraham there
fore was, evidently, confidence in the moral character of God.
It ought here to be observed, that the person, to whom Abraham's confidence was immediately directed, was the Lord Jesus Christ. • No man hath seen God,' the Father, at any time.' The person appearing under the name of God to the patriarchs, was the Lord Jesus Christ. This is decisively proved in many ways; and, particularly, by the direct declaration of St. Paul, 1 Cor. x. 9,' Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, aud were destroyed of serpents.' The passage here referred to, and the only one in which this event is recorded by Moses, is Numb. xxi. 5, 6: · And the people spake against God, and against Moses ; Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, reither is there any water ; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they hit the people, and much people of Israel died.' The God, the Jehovah, here mentioned, is unequivocally declared by St. Paul to be Christ; and that it was the same God who destroyed the Israelites on this occasion, that appeared throughout the Old Testament to the patriarchs and their descendants, will not be questioned. Christ, therefore, was the immediate object of confidence to Abraham.
Let me endeavour to exhibit this subject with greater clearness by a familiar example. A parent sets out upon a journey, and takes with him one of his little children, always accustomed to receive benefits from his parental tenderness. The child plainly knows nothing of the destined journey; of the place to which he is going, of the people whom he will find, the entertainment which he will receive, the sufferings which he must undergo, or the pleasures which he may enjoy: Yet the child goes willingly, and with delight. Why? not because he is ignorant; for ignorance by itself is a source to him of nothing but doubt and fear. Were a stranger to propose to him the same journey in the same terms, he would decline it at once, and could not be induced to enter upon it without compulsion. Yet his ignorance here would be at least equally great. He is wholly governed, as a rational being ought to be, by rational considerations. Confidence in his parent, whom he knows hy experience to be only a benefactor to him, and in whose affection and tenderness he has always found safety and pleasure, is the sole ground of his cheerful acceptance of the proposed journey, and of all his subsequent conduct. In his parent's company he feels delighted, in his care, safe. Separated from him, he is at once alarmed, anxious, and miserable. Nothing can easily restore him to peace, or comfort, or hope, but the return of his parent, In his own obedience and filial affection, and in his father's approbation and tenderness, care and guidance, he finds sufficient enjoyment, and feels satisfied and secure. He looks for no other motive, than his father's choice, and his own confidence. The way which his father points out, although perfectly unknown to him, the entertainment which he provides, the places at which he chooses to stop, and the measures, universally, which he is pleased to take, are, in the view of the child, all proper, right, and good. For his parent's pleasure, and for that only, he inquires; and to this single object are confined all his views, and all his affections.
No characteristic is by common sense esteemed more amiable or more useful in little children, more suited to their circumstances, their wants, and their character, than confidence. Nor is any parent ever better pleased with his own little children, than when they exhibit this characteristic. The pleasure of receiving it, and that of exercising it, are substantially the same.
In adult years, men of every description reciprocate the same pleasure in mutual confidence, wherever it is exercised. Friends, husbands and wives, rulers and subjects, demand, experience, and enjoy this affection in a manner generally corresponding with that I have described.
The second passage, from which I propose to show that this confidence was the faith of Abraham, is Rom. iv. 20—22. • He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised he was able also to perform; and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.' The faith of Abraham here described, in which he was
strong, giving glory to God,' and · which was imputed to him for righteousness,' was faith in the promise of God concerning the future birth of Isaac, through whom he was to become the progenitor of Christ, and the father of many nations, especi
ally of believers of all ages. This faith was built on the moral character of the promiser. But faith in a promise, when it is directed to the disposition of the promiser, as is plainly the case here, because the fulfilment of the promise must depend entirely on this disposition, is the very confidence of which I have been speaking. 2. This is the faith of the Old Testament.
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,' says Job, chapter xiii. 15.— I will trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever,' Psalm lii. 8.- I will trust in the covert of thy wings,' Psalm lxi. 4.— The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him,' Psalm lxiv. 10.— They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.' Psalm cxxv. 1.-Who is among you that feareth the Lord ?-let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God, Isaiah 1. 10.- Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.' Jer. xvii. 5, 6.
No person acquainted with the Scriptures can, I think, hesitate to admit, that the exercise of mind mentioned in these passages under the name trust, is the same with that which in the, New Testament is called faith. It is the character of the same persons, viz. the righteous, and their peculiar and pre-eminent character. The importance and the obligations assigned to it are the same ; and the blessings promised to it are the same. All who possess and exercise it are pronounced blessed ;' and all who do not possess it are declared.cursed.'
In the verse following that last quoted from Jeremiah, the peculiar blessings of faith are declared to be the blessings of • the man, who trusteth in the Lord. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh ; but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful, in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.' The peculiar character as well as peculiar blessing of faith, is, that he who is the subject of it, shall • abound in the work of the Lord.'
Such, precisely, is the glorious blessing here annexed to him
who trusteth in the Lord; a blessing which is evidently the greatest of all blessings; for our Saviour informs us, that it is more blessed to give, than to receive;' to communicate good, than to gain it at the hands of others : a declaration, which $t. Paul appears to make the sum of all that Christ taught .concerning this interesting subject.
3. It is l apprehend, the faith of the New Testament, also.
In various places in the New Testament this exercise of the mind is directly called by the names trust and confidence.
• In his name shall the Gentiles trust;' quoted from Isaiah xlii. 4, where it is rendered, the isles shall wait for his law;' in Matthew xii. 21, and Rom. xv. 12. That the word • trust,' used here, denotes the faith of the Gentiles in the name of Christ, will not be questioned.
Ephesians i. 12, St. Paul says, that we,' (that is, himself and his fellow-christians,) should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.'
1 Tim. iv. 10, . For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe.'
2 Tim. i. 12, For I know whom I have believed.' The word WETIO TEUXQ is, by the translators, rendered • trusted,' in the margin. It is rendered also in the same manner by Cruden, and, I think, correctly.
Heb. iii. 14, · If we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end ;' that is, our faith already begun.
Heb. xi. 1, Faith is the confidence of things hoped for.' This may, perhaps, be regarded as a general definition. The word TOTEW, of which one of the meanings is trust, ought, I think, to be extensively rendered by this English term, in order to express the true sense of the original. The same thing may also be observed concerning its derivatives.
But the proof which I especially mean to allege at the present time, is contained in the following things :
(1.) The faith of Abraham is the faith of the New Testament; and this has, I flatter myself, been already proved to
; be the confidence above mentioned.
(2.) In that extensive account of faith which is given us in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, we are taught, that the