« PoprzedniaDalej »
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, therefore, 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 tempi Christ, as some of them also tempted, and 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, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit 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
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 by 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 VOL. II.
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, whenever 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 rightcousness. 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, especially 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.
2dly. This is the faith of the Old Testament.
Though he slay me, yei 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 Ixi. 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 shali 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 St. Paul appears to make the sum of all that Christ taught concerning this interesting subject.
3dly. It is, I 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 WERIOTEUXQ 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 steadfast 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 Fioruw, 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 xi. chapter of Hebrews, we are taught, that the faith, exercised by the saints of the Old Testament, is the same with the faith of the Gospel ; and this is not only generally called Trust in the Old Testament itself; but, as has been already proved in several instances, and, were there time or necessity, might be proved in all, is no other than the confidence which I have specified. All these persons confided in the promises of God, and in the moral character of him by whom they were given.
4thly. The nature of the case, and the situation of the penilent, when he exercises faith in Christ, clearly evince the truth of the doctrine. The sinner is condemned, and ruined. By the Law of God all
, hope of his recovery and salvation is precluded. Left to himself, therefore, in his present situation, he cannot be saved. While he is in this miserable condition, Christ declares, that he is able, willing, and faithful, to save him; and that, to this end, the sinner must, indispensably, surrender himself into his hands, or give himself up to him; and consent to be saved by him in his own way. Now what can induce the sinner, in a case of this infinite magnitude, thus to give himself into the hands of Christ? Nothing but an entire confidence in his character, as thus able, willing, and faithful to save. But how shall the sinner know this? Or if he cannot know it, how shall he be persuaded of it? Know it, in the proper sense of knowledge, he cannot ; for it is plainly not an object of science. The word of Christ is the only ultimate evidence, by which he must be governed; and this word depends, for all its veracity and convincing influence, on the moral character of Christ; on his goodness, faithfulness, and truth. Whenever the sinner, therefore, gives himself to Christ, according to his proposal, and in obedience to his commands, he does it merely because he places an entire confidence in his moral character, and in the declarations which he has made. In these he confides, because they are the
declarations of just such a person, possessing just such a moral
If he trusts in the instructions, precepts, and ordinances of Christ,
The same things are true of his faith in the invitations, promises, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, government, intercession, presence, protection, and universal blessings, of the Redeemer. The faith of the Christian is exercised towards all these things. But all of them, separated from his moral character, are nothing to the believer.
From these considerations it is, I think, sufficiently evident, that the faith of the Gospel, whatever may be its immediate object, is no other than confidence in the moral character of God, especially of the Redeemer.
If I am asked, “What is Confidence in moral character ?" I an-
Confidence, or trust, is a complex emotion of the mind; and in-
It involves, also, Complacency in the object; or approbation of his character. We cannot thus trust any person, whom we do not esteem.
It involves a Conviction, that the attributes, which awaken our confidence, really exist in the person whom we trust.
It involves a Persuasion, that, in the case, and on the terms, proposed, the person, in whom we confide, is ready to befriend us. Until this is admitted by us, there will be nothing, about which our confidence can be exercised.
It involves a sincere delight, in every exercise of it. No emotion yields higher enjoyment than confidence.
It involves a cheerful devotion to the interests, and pleasure, of the object trusted; a disposition to promote those interests, and to conform to that pleasure. Towards a superior, it is thus the foundation of constant and ready obedience.
Generally, it is the true and supreme attachment of a creature to