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« an heir of the righteousness of faith,” is just to participate in the blessing of justification by believing—to be justified by believing. In this part of his statement, I apprehend the Apostle refers to two passages in the book of Genesis : the first, ch. vi. 8, “ Noah found favour in the sight of the Lord;" and the second, ch. vi. 9, “ Noah walked with God;" which, as the Apostle has explained it in the preceding context, is equivalent to—Noah was well-pleasing to God,'—Noah was a justified person—a person treated by God as if he had been righteous, as an object of His peculiar favour; and, as the Apostle has shown, if he was so, it must have been through believing.
These are the facts of the case. Let us now see how they illustrate the efficacy of faith for enabling to perform duties, to endure trials, and to obtain blessings.
It has been supposed by some, that the Apostle means to say that it was by faith that Noah was “ warned of God of things not seen as yet;"—that is, that the warning given to Noah was a proof of God's peculiar regard to Noah; and that this token of peculiar regard, like every other, was bestowed on him as a believer. But I rather think that the phrase, “ by faith," is intended to refer to “moved by fear, prepared an ark;” the warning being considered as the revelation which was the subject of that faith through which Noah performed his difficult duties, endured his severe trials, and obtained the glorious reward. Had the warning not been believed, Noah would not have been “moved with fear"—he would not have“ prepared an ark.” He would have continued, like the unbelieving generation among whom he lived, careless and disobedient. But believing, as he did, the warning in all its extent, he could not but be “ moved with fear”- he could not but set about “preparing the ark.” Noah believed the whole testimony. It was a declaration of universal destruction, with the exception of himself and his family, and a declaration that even they could be saved only by the “ preparing of an ark.” Had Noah believed merely that “the end of all flesh was come before God," he would indeed have been filled with fear, but that fear would not have moved him to prepare an ark. It was the faith at once of the coming general destruction and the particular way of escape which produced the effect of his prosecuting the laborious and difficult work of preparing the ark.
As it was by faith that Noah prepared the ark, so it was by faith that he obtained the salvation of his family. That privilege was connected in inseparable union with a preceding duty, which preceding duty could not have been performed without faith. Had not the ark been prepared, Noah and his family could not have been saved; and had not Noah believed, the ark would not have been prepared. You see, then, how the salvation of Noah's family was the result of his faith.
It was by faith also that he “ condemned the world.” The revelation which he believed furnished him with the great subject of his condemnatory addresses ; and it was the faith of this revelation that enabled him, in defiance of their scorn, to tell them the truth. He believed, and therefore spoke.
It was by faith also that “ he became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” This scarcely requires any illustration. The language of the Apostle is not in reality, what it is in appearance, tautological. When he says, Noah by faith “ became heir of the righteousness which is by faith,” he just means, that Noah by his own personal faith obtained an interest in that method of justification, in which no man can obtain an interest but by believing.'
This example of Noah is thus admirably fitted to serve the Apostle's purpose. Faith enabled Noah to perform very difficult duties. It enabled him to make the laborious preparations, which must have occupied many years, for the approaching deluge; it enabled him to do his duty, and to persevere in doing it, amid many difficulties and discouragements ; it enabled him fearlessly, though alone, as “ a preacher of righteousness,” to pronounce the sentence of condemnation on a guilty world, though in doing so he must have exposed himself to cruel mockings, and very probably to imminent hazards. Faith enabled Noah to endure very severe trials. The conviction, that without building the ark he and his family must perish, and if it were prepared they were safe, rendered powerless the shafts of ridicule. He endured, as seeing what was yet invisible. Faith enabled him to obtain most important benefits,—the deliverance of his family, and a personal interest in the justification that is by believing.
1 The phrase, ý rata nior. dir., is plainly the same thing as ý dixo éx síor., Rom. i. 17, ix. 30, x. 6; and òrcè ziot., Rom. iii. 22, Phil. iii. 9 ; or simply òir, zier., Rom. iv. 13.
The example is the more instructive, as it naturally, and almost necessarily, brings before the mind the fearfully destructive efficiency of unbelief. The world that perished had materially the same message delivered to them as that which Noah received. Had they repented, there is no reason to doubt that the fearful infliction would not have taken place. Noah believed, and feared, and obeyed, and was saved. They disbelieved, and mocked, and were disobedient, and perished.
Faith and unbelief are the same things still. The believer, like Noah, has been “ warned of God of things not seen as yet.” He has heard that “all have sinned,” and that God cannot “ clear the guilty,” and “ the wicked must be turned into hell ;" and he has heard also, that “God hath set forth His Son a propitiation through His blood,” and that " whosoever believeth shall not perish, but have everlasting life;" and that by the believer seeking “ glory, honour, and immortality," eternal life shall assuredly be obtained. Like Noah, he believes the divine warning; he is filled with fear at the display which these truths give of the power, and holiness, and justice of God; he sees that everlasting destruction is his inevitable portion, unless he avail himself of the only way of escape, and that, availing himself of this way of escape, he is secure of everlasting happiness; and believing this, he “ flees for refuge to the hope set before him,"—and he continues fleeing for refuge; and in the way of God's appointment, the way of faith and holiness, he seeks perseveringly, and he obtains assuredly, “ the end of his believing, even the salvation of his soul.” He believes the whole of the divine testimony. If he believed only the first part of it, he would despair; if he believed only the last part of it, he would presume. But believing both, he both fears and hopes; and under the combined influence of fear and hope, he performs duty, endures trials, and ultimately obtains the promised blessing
The unbeliever, like the ungodly world in the days of Noah, hears the divine testimony, but will not receive it. Hell excites no fears--heaven no desires. He continues in impenitence and disobedience, till down comes the thunderbolt. He is conveyed into the regions of hopeless punishment, and learns, too late, how criminal and dangerous it is, under the influence of “ an evil heart of unbelief,” to “ depart from the living God.”
The fourth example of the efficacy of faith is derived from the history of Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation. Vers. 8–10. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise : for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Of the facts referred to in the 8th verse, we have an account in the beginning of the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis. "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the eartly be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran."
Though in the Mosaic history the account of this call is not given till after the account of the death of Terah in Haran, yet it is plain from the speech of Stephen that it took place in Mesopotamia, previously to his leaving that country along with his father. The call consisted of two parts,-a command and a promise. The command was, “ Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee.” The promise was partly implicit,—“I will give thee this land for an inheritance ;” and partly explicit,
_“I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
1 Theodoret supposes that καλούμενος Αβρααμ refers to the change of the patriarch's name from Abram to Abraham. Some MSS. and versions read ó ruhoúperos; but the whole context shows that the reference is to what is usually termed “the call” of Abraham,—his being divinely commanded to leave his native country, and go into a land to be pointed out to him.
2 Gen. xii, 1-4.
Abraham believed that both the command and the promise came from God; and therefore he obeyed the command, and expected the fulfilment of the promise. His faith was “ confidence in reference to things hoped for;" it was a conviction in reference to things not seen as yet.” Had Abraham not believed that the call came from God, or had he not believed that God was at once able and disposed to perform His promises, he would have disregarded the call, and continued in Mesopotamia; but because he believed, he obeyed. It was his faith which led him to break asunder those very strong bands which bind men to their country and their kindred, and to undertake a journey of unknown length, and difficulty, and danger,— towards a country of which he knew nothing, but that God had said to him, “I will show it thee." "He went forth, not knowing whither he went.” He proceeded in the direction which the divine call pointed out; and he went onward till the same divine call directed him to stop.
This certainly was a very remarkable manifestation of the power of faith in enabling a man to perform a difficult duty. It is difficult for us to form a distinct conception of it, as no case strictly analogous can occur among us. But let us suppose a person, previous to the discovery of America, leaving the shores of Europe, and committing himself and his family to the mercy of the waves, in consequence of a command of God, and a promise that they should be conducted to a country where he should become the founder of a great nation, and the source of blessings to many nations; and we have something like what actually took place in the case of Abraham.
The object for which this instance of the power of faith is brought forward is obvious, and it is well fitted to serve that object. Nothing but faith could have enabled Abraham to act as he did. Faith made what would otherwise have been impossible, easy. God was calling the Hebrew Christians to break through bands as strong as those which bound Abraham to Mesopotamia, in abandoning Judaism, and to take a course in a determined attachment to Christianity, the consequences of which were as apparently hazardous, and as completely unknown to them and beyond their control, as the circumstances of Abraham's journey from Mesopotamia to Canaan. Nothing could enable them to do this but faith—a full persuasion that the