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      The editor's note: There is sometimes something instructive in the history of a sermon. Many a minister could disclose interesting facts as to the origin of some of his most useful discourses. This sermon, delivered at the annual session of the Association, when, in the recommendation of a monthly meeting for prayer, originated the great missionary enterprise, was not composed with strenuous application in prospect of the service he had undertaken. On his way to the Association, the roads in several places were flooded, and Mr. Fuller came to one part which being deep, and he a stranger, he was somewhat reluctant to go on. A plain countryman residing in the neighbourhood, and better acquainted with the depth of the water than our traveller, recommended him to urge his horse through the water. "Go on, sir, you are quite safe." Mr. Fuller went on, but the water touched his saddle, and he paused to think. "Go on, sir," exclaimed the man, "all is right." Taking the man at his word, the traveller proceeded, and the text was suggested: "We walk by faith, not by sight." He delivered the sermon, which his brethren wisely requested him to print. - Joseph Belcher, "Complete Works."

The Nature and Importance of Walking by Faith
A Sermon by Andrew Fuller

"We walk by faith, not by sight." - 2 Corinthians v. 7.

[Preached at Nottingham before the Northamptonshire Association, June 2, 1784.]

      MUCH is said concerning faith in the Holy Scriptures, especially in the New Testament; and great stress is laid upon it, especially by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. This, I apprehend, is not very difficult to be accounted for. Ever since the fall of man, we have been entirely dependent on the mercy of God, through a Mediator. We all lie at his discretion, and are beholden to his mere sovereign grace for all the happiness we enjoy. We have nothing on which we can rely for the possession or continuance of any good, but the word and will of God. The only life, therefore, proper for a fallen creature in our world, is a life of faith - to be constantly sensible of our dependence upon God, continually going to him, and receiving all from him, for the life that now is and that which is to come.

      Believers, and they only, are brought to be of a spirit suitable to such a kind of life. The hearts of all others are too full of pride and self-sufficiency; but these are contented to be pensioners on the bounty of another, can willingly commit their all into Christ's hands, and venture their present and everlasting concerns upon his word. "The just shall live by faith."

      Self-renunciation, and confidence in another, are ideas which seem ever to accompany that of faith. The apostle speaks of being justified by faith; that is, not by our own righteousness, but by the righteousness of another: - of living by faith; that is, not by our own earnings, so to speak, but by the generosity of another: - of standing by faith; that is, not upon our own legs, as we should say, but upon those of another: and here, - of walking by faith; which is as much as if he had said, - We walk, not trusting our own eyes, but the eyes of another; we are blind, and cannot guide ourselves; we must therefore rely upon God for direction and instruction. This, my brethren, is the life we must live, while in this world, and this


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the manner in which we must walk in our progress toward the heavenly state. Great is the wisdom and goodness of God in so ordering it; great glory hereby redounds to him, and great good accrues to us.

      All I shall attempt will be to explain the NATURE, and show the IMPORTANCE, of the Christian's walk by faith. Both are necessary: the one, that we may form just ideas of what we have to do; and the other, that we may feel our hearts excited to do it. Oh may the same Spirit who indited the sacred passage breathe upon us, that these ends may be accomplished!

      I. Let us inquire WHAT IS INTENDED by the sacred writer, when he says, "We walk by faith, not by sight." Faith and sight, it is easy to see, here stand opposed; as, indeed, they do in many other parts of Scripture; especially in that remarkable definition of faith wherein the apostle to the Hebrews calls it "the evidence of things not seen." But what kind of sight it is opposed to may deserve our attentive inquiry.

      And here, before I proceed any further, in order to make the way clear, I will advert to a notion which has been too generally received, but which appears to me unscriptural and pernicious; what I refer to is, that faith is to he considered as opposed to spiritual sight, or spiritual discernment. It is true I never heard of any person, either in preaching, writing, or conversation, who said so in express words; but expressions are often used which convey the same idea. When the terms faith and sense are used, it is common with many to understand, by the latter, sensible communion with God. So it is common to hear a life of faith opposed to a life of frames and feelings. Those times in which we have the most spiritual discernment of God's glory, sensible communion with him, and feel our love most ardently drawn out to him, are thought to have the least of the exercise of faith. It is common to say, - There is no need for faith then; at those times we live by sense: but that when all our graces seem dead, and we can see no evidence from which to draw the favourable conclusion, then is the time to walk by faith. The meaning is, then is the time to believe all is well, and so rest easy, whether we have evidence that it is so or not.

      Thus we have often heard several passages of Scripture applied, or rather miserably misapplied; for instance, that in the last chapter of Habakkuk: "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." As if by the fig tree not blossoming, &c. were meant the Christian graces not being in exercise; and that then was the time to walk by faith, to rejoice in the God of our salvation! That passage also concerning Abraham, "who, against hope, believed in hope," has been understood as if to be strong in faith, giving glory to God, like Abraham, was to maintain an unshaken persuasion of the goodness of our state, whether we have evidence or no evidence.

      So also that passage in the fiftieth of Isaiah has been frequently brought for this purpose: "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that. walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." As though a state of darkness there meant a state of mind wherein a person could discern no evidence whatever of his being a good man; and as though such were there encouraged to make themselves easy, and leave the matter with God, not doubting the goodness of their state. Our Lord's rebuke to Thomas has been understood in the same manner: "Because thou hast seen me, thou bast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." As if a blessing should rest upon those who, destitute of


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all discernible evidence of their Christianity, nevertheless believe it with an unshaken confidence. If this is to walk by faith, then faith must stand opposed to spiritual sight or spiritual discernment.

      I doubt not but there is such a thing as to live upon frames; which ought to be guarded against. If I imagine, for instance, that God changes as I change - that he admires me at one time, and not another - or that his great love, whence all my hope of salvation springs, rises and falls according to the state of my mind; this is, doubtless, to dishonour God, as it strikes at the immutability of his love. So if I derive my chief consolation from reflecting upon what I am, instead of reflecting upon what Christ is, this is to dishonour Christ, and may very properly stand opposed to living by faith. But this is not the common idea of living upon frames. It has been usual with many to account that man to live upon frames, who, when he is stupid, and dark, and carnal, cannot be confident about the safety of his state; and him to live by faith who can maintain his confidence in the worst of frames. Allow me, brethren, to offer three or four plain reasons against this notion of the subject.

      1. Faith is the only means of spiritual discernment and communion with God; and therefore cannot be opposed to them. Our best frames are those in which faith is most in exercise; and our worst when it is the least. Faith is the eye of the mind. It is that by which we realize invisible and spiritual objects, and so have fellowship with God. Yes, it is by this grace that we "behold the glory of the Lord," and are changed into the same image from glory to glory, by the "Spirit of the Lord."

      2. If faith is opposed to spiritual discernment and communion with God, then it must work alone; it must never act in conjunction with any of those graces wherein we feel our hearts go out to God; for this would be to confound faith and sense together. But this is contrary to fact. When we have most faith in exercise, we have most love, most hope, most joy; and so of all the graces; all sweetly act in harmony. Thus the Scriptures represent it as ever accompanied by other graces; especially by love, purity, and lowliness of heart. It is expressly said to "work by love;" and, it should seem, never works without it. It is also said to "purify the heart." The exercise of faith, therefore, and the exercise of holiness, can never be separated. Equally true is it that it is ever attended with "lowliness of heart." There are two instances of faith recorded which our Lord particularly commended, saying, he had not seen such great faith, no, not in Israel: the one was the case of the woman of Canaan, and the other that of the Roman centurion; and both these were attended with great humility. The one was contented to be treated as a dog, and the other thought himself unworthy that Christ should come under his roof. A confidence unaccompanied with these, if it may be called faith at all, seems nearly to resemble what the apostle James called "faith without works;" which he pronounced to be "dead, being alone."

      3. If faith is to be understood in this sense, then it not only works without other graces, but contrary to them. The Scriptures encourage a spirit of self-examination and godly jealousy. These are modest and upright graces, and constitute much of the beauty of Christianity. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith," say the inspired writers; "try your own selves!" - "Let us fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it." - "Let us pass the time of our sojourning here in fear." But always to be confident of the safety of our state, let the work of sanctification go on as it may, is not only unfriendly to such a spirit, but subversive of it. Hence it is common, with some, to call every degree of godly jealousy by the name of unbelief,


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and to impute it to the enemy; yea, to shun it, and cry out against it, as if it were itself a devil! This is not the most favourable symptom of an honest heart. Surely a heart truly upright would not wish to receive comfort itself, but upon solid evidence; and where it was taught to call such a fear by the name of unbelief I know not; I think I may say, it never came from the word of God. If the veracity of God were called in question, no doubt it would be unbelief; but the question, at those times, with a sincere mind, is not whether God will prove faithful in saving those that trust in him, but whether he be indeed the subject of that trust. His doubts do not respect God, but himself. Love and fear are the two great springs and guardians of right action. When love is in exercise, we do not stand in need of fear to stimulate or guide us; but when we are not constrained by the former, it is well to be restrained by the latter.

      4. Faith, in that case, must be unsupported by evidence. God's word affords us no warrant to conclude ourselves interested in his promises, and so in a state of safety, unless we bear the characters to which the promises are made. We have no right, for instance, to apply to ourselves that promise - "Fear thou not, for I am with thee be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness," - unless we bear the character of the party there addressed. This is expressed in the foregoing verse, "But thou, Israel, art my servant," &c. If, from the real desire of our hearts, we yield not ourselves servants to God, no impression of this passage upon our minds can warrant us to conclude that God is indeed our God, or that we shall be strengthened, helped, or upholden by him. So also no man has any right to conclude himself interested in that promise, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee," unless he be so drawn from the love of sin, self, and the world, as to love God better than any of them. But if we are to hold fast the confidence of our safety, whatever be the condition of our mind or the evils in our conduct, then we are, in that instance, to believe without evidence. If the work of sanctification be the only Scriptural evidence of our interest in Christ, then, in proportion to that work increasing or declining, our evidence must be strong or weak. When we degenerate into carnality and indifference, it must, of course, diminish. To say, then, that those are the times in which we exercise most faith, is the same thing as to say we exercise most faith when we have least evidence; and, consequently, it must be a kind of faith, if it be faith at all, that is unsupported by evidence.*

      There are but two cases, that I recollect, in the whole system of true
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     * All true faith must have TRUTH for its foundation. That faith to which the Scriptures promise salvation is founded upon evidence; and that evidence is the TESTIMONY of God. Hence it is, with great propriety, by the apostle, defined the belief of the truth. This definition includes more than many seem to apprehend. To believe the truth in reality is cordially to credit the account which God has given of himself, of us, of sin, of Christ, of earth, of heaven, &c. Whoever thus realizes divine truth must, of necessity, feel its influence. The same apostle tells us that those who receive the word as it is find it effectually to work in them. Hence we are to be sanctified through the truth, to know the truth, and to be made free by it. I cannot believe God to be that amiable and gracious being which his word represents him to be, without loving him. I cannot believe myself to be that vile and worhless being that God represents me to be, without abhorring myself in dust and ashes. If I really credit what God hath said of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, it is impossible but that I should hate it, and perceive its dreadful demerit, and plainly see myself righteously condemned for being a subject of it. If I really believe the record that God has given of his Son, that is the same thing as to think of his excellences, in measure, as God thinks of them; and, in that case, I cannot but embrace him with all my heart, and venture my everlasting all upon his atonement. If, from my heart, I believe what God hath said of the vanity of this world, and the substantial bliss of that to come; if I realize the emptiness of all the enjoyments of the former, and the eternal weight of glory pertaining to the latter; I shall necessarily labour, not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life.

      If this be a just notion of faith, then it will follow, 1. That all unconverted men are truly, and in the most literal and proper sense of the word, UNBELIEVERS. Whatever they may pretend, they do not realize what God has revealed of his character or their own, of the nature of sin and its dreadful demerit, of the excellence of Christ, of the vanity of this world, and the solid bliss of the next. Nor can this their unbelief be removed but by their becoming entirely new creatures, by a work of the almighty Spirit of God.
     2. That a mere cold assent to things, commonly called believing the doctrines of the gospel, unaccompanied with love to them, or a dependence on Christ for salvation, is very far from being true saving faith. Let but the doctrines of the gospel be really and heartily believed, as God has re­vealed them, and, as before said, it will be impossible but that we should feel a determina­tion to venture upon Christ alone for salvation, with all the proper effects of living faith. But persons may profess to believe those doctrines when they do not, or may believe them partially, but not as God has revealed them. Yea, a person may think these his profes­sions to be true, and these his notions to be just, and yet be an infidel at heart. The Jews professed to believe Moses, and no doubt verily thought they did; but our Lord told them, "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me." We are un­der a necessity, therefore, of concluding that, where these effects are not produced, the faith of such persons is, in a great degree, pretended, and not real; and in that degree in which it is real, it is very superficial; it reaches only to the shell of truth, at farthest. The essence and glory of the gospel is by them neither discerned nor believed.
      3. That all that confidence which is unsupported by evidence, held fast by so many, is not faith, but presumption or delusion. If faith is the belief of the truth, then whatever I believe ought to be a truth, and a truth supported by evidence, prior to, and independently of, my be­lieving it. This is certainly the case respecting the excellence and all-sufficiency of Christ. He is what he is, whether I believe it or not. However I may disallow him, he is chosen of God, and precious. Whatever real excellence I at any time discern or believe to be in him, I only believe the truth, and what would have been the truth if I had never believed it. Faith, therefore, draws aside the veil, and discovers things in some measure as they are. So if that persuasion which I may have of my interest in Christ have any right to the name of faith, it must be a truth, and a truth capable of being proved by Scripture evidence at the time. [Note: The last paragraph in this footnote is on the bottom of p. 121 in the document.]


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Christian experience, which so much as seem to resemble this notion; and these are, in fact, essentially different from it. One is that of the most eminent Christians having a general and well-grounded persuasion of their interest in Christ, even at those times wherein they may not experience such evident and sensible exercises of grace as they do at other times. But then, it is to be observed, grace has more ways than one of being in exercise: the grace of love, for instance; sometimes it is exercised in the most tender and affectionate feelings of the heart towards Christ, longing to be with him, and to enjoy him, in the world to come; at other times, it works more in a way of serving him, and promoting his interest in the present world. This latter may not so sensibly strike the person himself as being an exercise of love; but perhaps other people may consider it superior evidence.

      The industrious peasant, sitting in his evening chair, sees his children gathering round him, and courting his affections by a hundred little winning ways. He looks, and smiles, and loves. The next day he returns to his labour, and cheerfully bears the burden of the day, in order to provide for these his little ones, and promote their interest. During his day’s labour, he may not feel his love operate in such sensible emotions as he did the evening before. Nay, he may be so attentive to other things as not immediately to have them in his thoughts. What then? he loves his children: indeed he gives proof of it, by cheerfully enduring the toils of labour, and willingly denying himself of many a comfort, that they might share their part; and were he to hear of their being injured or afflicted, he would quickly feel the returns of glowing affection, in as strong, and perhaps stronger, emotions than ever.

      Thus the believer may have real love to God in exercise, exciting him to a cheerful and habitual discharge of duty, and a careful watch against evil, and yet feel little, or none, of that desirable tenderness of heart which, at other times, he experiences. He has grace in exercise, only it does not


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work in the same way as it does at some other times; and he in general enjoys a conscious satisfaction that the more he knows of God, his holy law, and glorious gospel, the more he loves them. During this, he may have an abiding satisfaction that things are right with him. But this is a very different thing from a person, at all events, maintaining the safety of his state; yea, and reckoning himself, in so doing, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God, while carnality governs his spirit, and folly debases his conversation.

      The other case is when, on a failure of evidence from a reflection on past experiences, the believer has recourse to an immediate application to the Lord Jesus Christ, casting himself directly on his mercy, and relying on his word; seeing he has said, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." This case no doubt often occurs. The believer, through the prevalence of carnality, with some other causes, too often finds his evidences for glory so obscured, that past experiences will afford but small consolation. At such a time, his mind is either easy and carnally disposed, (in that case, a few painful fears will do him no harm,) or else his heart is depressed with perplexity and gloom, in which case nothing is better than immediately to go to Christ as a poor sinner for salvation. This is the shortest, and it is commonly the surest way. It is not best in such a state of mind to stand disputing whether we have believed or not; be that as it may, the door of mercy is still open, and the Redeemer still says, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." It is best, therefore, to make a fresh venture of our souls upon him; that if we have never before trusted in him, we may now.

      This is no more than he has a warrant at any time to do, let things be as they may with him; for though internal qualifications are necessary to our concluding ourselves interested in Christ, yet it is not so in respect of application to him. The perplexed soul need not stay, before he ventures, to inquire whether he be fit to come to Christ. It is not required that he should prove his saintship before he applies for mercy, though it is before he claims an interest in gospel blessings. All that is necessary here is that he be sensible of his being a vile and lost sinner; and that is not to be considered as a qualification, giving him a right to come, but as a state of mind essential to the act itself of coming.

      Many a Christian has found sweet rest to his soul by such a direct application to Christ; and surely it would be much better for Christians who go almost all their life in painful perplexity, lest they should be mistaken at last, if, instead of perpetually poring on past experiences, they were to practise more in this way. This would furnish them with present evidence, which is much the best, and what God best approves; for he loves to have us continue to exercise our graces, and not barely to remember that we have exercised them some time or other heretofore. This in some sort may be called walking by faith, and not by sight; and, in this case, faith may in some sense be opposed to spiritual sight. It is opposed to that discernment which we sometimes have of being true Christians, from a review of past experiences. But then this is ever attended with present spiritual discernment of Christ's excellence, and a longing desire after interest in him; and herein essentially differs from what we have been opposing. Confidence in the one case is nothing else but carnal security, tending to make men easy without God: confidence in the other is an actual venture of the soul afresh on the Lord Jesus, encouraged by his gracious testimony. The subject of the one considers himself as an established saint; the other as a poor lost sinner, and deals with Christ for salvation just as he did when he first applied to him. To the one we say, "Be not high-minded, but


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fear;" to the other, "Fear not, thou shalt not be ashamed; none ever trusted in him, and was confounded."

      In what sense then do we walk by faith, and not by sight? I answer in general, Walking by faith is a GOING FORWARD IN THE WAYS OF GODLINESS, AS INFLUENCED, NOT BY SENSIBLE, BUT BY INVISIBLE OBJECTS - OBJECTS OF THE REALITY OF WHICH WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE BUT THE TESTIMONY OF GOD. But perhaps faith may be considered as opposed to sight more particularly in three senses; namely, to corporal sight, to the discoveries of mere reason, and to ultimate vision.

      1. To walk by faith is opposed to walking by corporal sight. In this sense we shall find it plentifully used in the eleventh chapter to the Hebrews, concerning Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and others. Thus Abel, by faith, offered a more excellent offering than Cain. God had said in effect, once for all, that he would never speak nor be spoken to in a way of friendship by any of the human race, but through a mediator. This was intimated partly by man's being debarred from all access to the tree of life, partly by the promise of the woman's Seed, and partly by the institution of sacrifices. Cain overlooked all these, and approached God without an expiatory sacrifice; as if there had been no breach between them, and so no need of an atonement. This was an instance of daring unbelief. Abel, on the contrary, took God at his word, perceived the evil of sin and the awful breach made by it, dared not to bring an offering without a victim for atonement, had respect to the promised Messiah, and thus, by faith in the unseen Lamb, offered a more excellent offering than Cain.

      Thus also it is said of Noah, "By faith he, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world," &c. No doubt the world were ready to despise Noah, while building his ark, as an enthusiast whose faculties were probably deranged, who put himself to a deal of trouble, and wanted to put other people to as much, merely through a notion that ran in his head that the world should be drowned. Why, was there any thing in the world that looked like it, or seemed to portend such an event? Nothing at all: all things seemed to continue as they were from the creation. What then could induce Noah to do as he did? Nothing but the testimony of God, which he credited, and acted accordingly.

      So also it is said of Abraham, when called to go into another country, "by faith he obeyed, and went out, not knowing whither he went." A pretty errand it would seem to his friends and neighbours! It is possible that some of these, observing him preparing for a journey, might inquire whither he was going. - Going? I am going to a land which the Lord is to show me. - And have you ever seen this land? - No: I neither know the country, nor a step of the way to it. - A fine tale, indeed! but, seriously, what in the world can move you to such an undertaking? - I rely upon the testimony of God. He hath said, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, unto a land that I will show thee:" I take him at his word, and act accordingly.

      These were cases in point for the apostle to quote. The Hebrews seemed hardly contented with an unseen High Priest, an invisible religion. They had been used to priests and sacrifices that they could hear, and see, and handle with their bodily senses. Like their fathers by Moses, therefore, they were ready to say of Jesus, - We know not where he is gone; come, let us make us a captain, and return to Judaism. - Judaism! says the apostle - methinks true Judaism would condemn you. All your forefathers acted upon a principle which you seem about to abandon. They walked by faith, not


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by sight. They lived, they died, in the faith, even in the faith of that very Messiah of whom you make so light.

      In this sense, it is easy to see, faith and sight are to be taken in our Lord's rebuke to Thomas, when he says, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." It is as if he had said, - You think you have acted very prudently; - but what must the Christian world do in after-ages, if they act upon your principle? Christianity in the whole of it will depend upon testimony; whoever receives it after your death, yea, in your lifetime, besides yourselves, must receive it upon your testimony. Blessed are they that shall cordially so receive it; and blessed had you been, Thomas, to have set them the example, by believing the testimony of your brethren.

      2. Faith may be considered as opposed to the discoveries of mere reason unassisted by revelation. In this sense it seems to be used in reference to Sarah. "Through faith she received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised." How Sarah should have a son was not only indiscernible by the corporal eye, but by an eye of reason; since it must be, if at all, entirely beside the common course of nature. She had nothing to rely upon in this case but the promise of God.

      We do not suppose faith and right reason to be opposites: that be far from us. On the contrary, nothing is more evident than that Christianity is entirely a rational system; and it is its glory that it is so. We should never have been required to give a reason for the hope that is in us, if there had been no reason to be given. But though nothing in revelation be contrary to right reason, yet there are many things which our reason could never have found out, had they not been made known by the Supreme Intelligence. The plan of redemption by Jesus Christ, in particular, contains a set of truths which the eye had never seen, nor the ear heard, nor had they entered the heart of man to conceive, had not God revealed them to us by his Spirit. For all the pleasure that we enjoy, brethren, in contemplating these glorious truths, we are wholly indebted to the testimony of God. Indeed, so far are they from being discoverable by mere reason, that every blessing contains in it abundantly more than men or angels could have asked or thought! It staggers our reason to receive it, even now it is told us. At every pause we must stand and wonder, saying, "Is this the manner of man, O Lord!"

      Not only was our reason incapable of finding out many truths before they were revealed; but even now they are revealed, they contain things above our comprehension. It is one thing to say that Scripture is contrary to right reason, and another thing to say it may exhibit truths too great for our reason to grasp.* God must have told us nothing about his own existence
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      * May not the great disputes which have taken place concerning faith and reason, as if the one were opposite to the other, have arisen, in a great degree, from using the term rea­son without defining it? The word reason, like the word understanding, has two senses. 1. It signifies the fitness of things. So the apostles used it, when they said, "It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables;'' that is, it is not fit or proper. 2. It signifies our power or capacity of reasoning. So it is said of Nebuchadnezzar that his reason returned to him; that is, his power or capacity of reasoning. Now it is easy to see that these are two essentially different ideas: the one is perfect and immutable, remaining always the same; the other is shattered and broken by sin, and liable to a thousand varia­tions through blindness and prejudice. No Divine truth can disagree with the former; but it may be both above and contrary to the latter.

      If people were to talk, in matters of science and philosophy, as some have affected to talk in religion, they would be treated as fools, and deemed unworthy of attention. A phi­losopher, for instance, tells an unlettered countryman that it is generally thought that the earth turns round, everyday, upon its own axis, and not the sun round the earth. The countryman replies, "I don't believe it." "Very likely," says the philosopher; "but why not?" "It is contrary to my reason." "Contrary to your reason? that may be; but I hope you do not think that everything contrary to your reason is contrary to right reason!" Were men of the greatest understanding but to consider that there is a far greater dispro­portion between some truths respecting the existence of a God and their capacities than between any truths of human science and the capacity of the most ignorant rustic, they would be ashamed to disbelieve a truth because it is not according to their reason.

      It is right, and stands commended in Scripture, to apply our hearts to understanding; but it is wrong, and stands condemned in Scripture, by the same pen, and in the same page, to lean to our own understanding. So, I apprehend, it is right to adhere to right reason, and to use all means to find out what it is; but it is wrong and presumptuous to set up our reason as a standard competent to decide what is truth, and what is error; for that is the same thing as supposing that our ideas of fitness and unfitness always accord with the real fitness of things. [The last portion of this footnote is on the bottom of page 125 in the document.]


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and infinite perfections, if he had told us nothing but what we could fully comprehend. In this case, it becomes us to know our littleness, and to bow our understandings to the Supreme Intelligence. It is the most rational thing in the world so to do. If God has said any thing, we ought to rest assured that so it is. In these cases, we ought to trust his eyes, so to speak, rather than our own, and be content to walk by faith, not by sight.

      3. Faith may be considered as opposed to ultimate vision. The saints in glory are described as "seeing Christ as be is," as "knowing even as they are known," and as being citizens of a city where there shall be "no night," and where they shall need "no candle, neither light of the sun, nor light of the moon, for the Lord God shall be the light thereof." Our knowledge of things there will be immediate and intuitive, and not, as it is here, through the medium of the word and ordinances. The sacred Scriptures are to us (with reverence be it spoken) like a letter from a distant friend; but when we come face to face, ink and paper shall be needed no more. However, for the present, it is otherwise. We are yet in the body; and while such, as the apostle observes in the verse preceding the text, "we are absent from the Lord," and must be glad of these helps. Let us make much of this letter, and be thankful that we can walk by it through this world, as by a "light in a dark place," till we come to a better, where we shall no more walk by faith, but by sight.

      Thus far I have dwelt chiefly upon the terms; but, that we may obtain a more comprehensive view of the thing itself, (namely, of a Christian's walking by faith,) let us take a view of a few of those circumstances and situations through which he has to pass during the present life. It is in these that faith, as well as every other grace, is exercised. Allow me, then, to request your attention, brethren, to four or five observations on the subject.

      1. There are many dark seasons in God's providential dealings with us, in which we can see no way of escape, nor find any source of comfort, but the testimony of God. God's friends are not distinguished in this world by an exemption from trying providences; he views that, methinks, as too trifling a badge of distinction. They shall be known by what is far more noble and advantageous; namely, by patience, obedience, submission, and Divine support under them. Moreover, as we profess to be friends of God, and to trust the salvation of our souls, with all our concerns, in his hands, he sees it proper to prove the sincerity of our professions, and the stability of our hearts. He brings us into such circumstances, therefore, as shall try us, whether we will confide in him or not.

      Christ has told his followers, once for all, that "all power in heaven and earth is in his hands;" that he is "Head over all things to the church;" that he "will surely do them good;" that, however things may seem, "all things shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose;" that, as to temporal things, let them but "trust in the Lord, and do good, and they shall dwell in the land, and verily


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they shall be fed;" and as to eternal things, if they have a few light afflictions, they shall last but for "a moment," and shall "work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." These promises seem easy to be believed, when things are smooth and pleasing; and it is very natural for us, in a day of prosperity, to talk of these things, and try and comfort those with them who are labouring in adversity. But the greatest trial is when it comes home to ourselves. Then it is well if we fall not under the reproof of Eliphaz, "Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees: but now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled." Then, if ever, is the time for us to walk by faith, and not by sight.

      We create to ourselves darlings, and place much of our happiness in their enjoyment. God not unfrequently takes these first away, as being most his rivals. If one child is more beloved than all the rest, if he must be clothed with a coat of many colours, the coat must quickly be returned without the owner; yes, the period must soon arrive when it shall be said, Joseph is not! These, with a few more strokes of the kind, will try Jacob's faith to the uttermost; and he will find it hard work to reconcile promises with providences. "Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good;" but "all these things are against me." Ah, he fails! He fails, like Asaph in a similar condition, who could not see how God could be "good to Israel," when "waters of a full cup were wrung out to them." The Shunammitish woman will set us a better example than either the patriarch or the prophet. "Is it well!" said Elisha's servant, when her child lay dead in her house. She replied, "It is well." This was, in effect, saying, - Whether I can see it or not, I know he doth all things well. - This is believing when we cannot see, taking God at his word, against all the rebellion of sense and feeling. This is what Jacob should have done; but oh that Jacob had failed alone! If to resemble him, in this instance, would constitute us Israelites, we should most of us be Israelites indeed!

      We are often very thrifty in devising plans for futurity, and apt to promise ourselves great degrees of happiness, when they are accomplished. Here it is common for God to throw confusion upon our schemes, and cause things to run in a different channel from what we expected. Job, while in prosperity, sat, like a bird in her well-feathered nest, and thought within himself, - I shall live to enjoy numerous years of uninterrupted prosperity, to see children's children, and then go down to the grave in peace; or, as he himself afterwards, in the bitter hour of reflection, expressed it, "I said, I shall die in my nest, I shall multiply my days as the sand!" Well, so he did at last; but there was a melancholy chasm in his life, which he never expected. Such there are, more or less, in all our lives; and, in such situations, it is well if we do not think hard of our best Friend. Some have been ready to ask, Is this love? Is this His doing who has said, I will surely do thee good? Yes, and you shall see it in the end, as Asaph did; who, after he had been to God's sanctuary, and saw things as they were, went home, it seems, and penned the seventy-third Psalm, beginning it all in ecstasy, saying, "Truly God is good to Israel!" Christians, how criminal, how cruel, that He that never failed us at any time should be so mistrusted as he is! It should seem to suggest as if he were such a God that we cannot trust him out of sight!

      How amiable is that spirit, how happy is that heart, that, in every situation, places unbounded confidence in JEHOVAH'S word! Such may be hedged up on every side, and encompassed, like Israel at the Red Sea, with seemingly insurmountable difficulties; yet, even here, they will follow Israel's example, they will cry unto God, and rely upon his mercy. If means


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can be used, they will use them; if not, they will "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." "Speak unto the children of Israel," said the Lord, "that they go forward." Go forward! they might have replied, what, leap at once into the jaws of destruction! But nothing of this. At first, indeed, their faith seemed to fail them, but they soon recovered themselves. "Speak unto the children of Israel," said the Lord, "that they go forward" - they went - a way was made in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters. Well, may it be said, By FAITH Israel passed through the Red Sea. Minds thus disposed might defy the united sources of worldly sorrow to render them unhappy. Let poverty stare them in the face, let pinching want stretch over them her miserable sceptre, they have been known, even here, by faith, to break forth into songs of praise. Thus sang good Habakkuk, (and this evidently appears to be his situation, and not a state of spiritual declension,) "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Thus also sang the church, even in her captivity, when her country was laid waste, Jerusalem razed to the ground, and the temple burnt to ashes: "The Lord is my portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him!"

      2. In all our approaches to and fellowship with Christ, it is by faith in the account that God has given of him in his word. Christ's excellence, undertaking, and benefits are the joy, and even the life, of our souls, if we are true Christians. But what evidence have we of all or any of these? Yea, what evidence have we that there is, or ever was, such a person as Jesus Christ? or if there was, that he was the Messiah, the Son of God? We neither saw him alive, nor die, rise again, nor ascend to heaven. We never saw the miracles he wrought, nor heard the voice from the excellent glory, saying, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." We speak of his personal excellences, Divine and human; of his love, zeal, righteousness, meekness, patience, &c.; but what know we of them? We rejoice in his being constituted our Surety, to obey the law and endure the curse in our stead; but how know we that so indeed it is? We glory in the imputation of his righteousness, and exult in the hope of being found in him, and being for ever with him, faultless before his throne, to serve him day and night in his temple; but on what do we rely for all this? If our expectations are but just, truly they are noble; but if groundless, extravagant. Are they, then, well-founded? Yes, the testimony of God is the rock whereon they rest. He has told us by the mouth of his servants, the inspired writers, all that is necessary for us to know, of the character, conduct, and errand of his Son; of every office he sustained, and every end for which he came into the world. To all this he has added that "whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." So they have preached, and so we have believed. We have, through grace, ventured our everlasting ALL in his hands; nor is it in the hands of we know not whom "we know whom we have trusted, and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which we have committed to him against that day." For though none of these things are visible to our mortal eye, yet, having evidence that God has said them, we are satisfied. We would as soon trust God's word as our own eyes. Thus we walk, like Moses, "as seeing him who is invisible;" and thus answer to that description, "Whom having not seen ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory."

      In all our applications to Christ, we have to rely merely upon the testimony of God. Here is a poor, self-condemned sinner, who comes pressing through the crowd of discouraging apprehensions, that he may, so to speak,


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touch the hen of the Redeemer's garment, and be made whole. As he approaches, one set of thoughts suggests, How can such a monster hope for mercy? Is it not doubtful whether there be efficacy enough in the blood of Christ itself to pardon such heinous crimes? - I know my crimes are heinous beyond expression, replies the burdened soul, and I should doubtless give up my case as desperate, but that I have heard of him that "He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him." I will go, therefore; who can tell? — As he goes, other objections assail him, questioning whether Christ can find in his heart to accept of such a one? - I should think not, indeed, rejoins the poor man; but he has said, "Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out." I know, were I to consult nothing but my feelings, and only to fix my eyes on the enormity of my sin, I should utterly despair; but encouraged by HIS WORD, I will go forward; I will walk by faith, not by sight: O, I hear him say, "Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden and ye shall find rest unto your souls!" This, this is what I want! Depart from me, all ye that vex my soul; I will go in the strength of the Lord God!

      3. We have to give up many present enjoyments, for Christ's sake, wherein we have no visible prospect of recompence, none of any kind but what arises from the promise of God. Self-denial is one of the initial laws of Christ's kingdom. Far from enticing people into his service by promises of wealth, ease, and honour, he set out with this public declaration, "Whosoever will be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." But who would enter upon these terms? Who would give up houses, lands, friends, and reputation, and expose himself to hardships, persecution, and death, for nothing? Yet many followed him, and that to the day of their death; yea, and upon these very terms too: "they left all, and followed him." What then induced them? Did not they act irrationally? Prophets, apostles, and martyrs! what mean ye? Have ye no regard for yourselves? What! are you destitute of the feelings of men? — No such thing; we "have respect unto the recompence of reward." - Reward! what can that be? nothing surely below the sun, unless it were everything the reverse of what is agreeable to human nature! - True; but our Lord has declared, "Whosoever shall forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold and inherit everlasting life." We rely upon this, and this supports us.

      God's friends, in all ages, have forsaken sensible for invisible enjoyments. Encouraged by considerations like these, Ruth forsook her father and her mother, and the land of her nativity, and came to a people whom she knew not. It was this that determined her to go forward, when, as Naomi told her, there were no earthly prospects before her. It was this that made her resolve not to go back with Orpah, but to cast in her lot with the friends of the God of Israel. "The Lord recompense thy work," said Boaz to her afterwards, "and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust!"

      The same things influenced Moses, it seems, to refuse a crown. It has been thought that, in virtue of his adoption, he might have been king of Egypt; but that throne not only, like other thrones, exposed him that sat thereon to numberless snares, but probably was inaccessible to any but those who would continue the system of idolatry and oppression. In that case Moses, in order to become king of Egypt, must have sacrificed a good conscience, despised a crown of glory that fadeth not away, and united in persecuting his own and the Lord's people. Moses seems fully to have weighed this matter. The result was, he "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to


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enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming even the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." He, therefore, freely leaves the life of a courtier; avows himself the friend of the poor despised captives; and dares to retire into Midian, to lead the life of an obscure shepherd. I say, he dared to retire; for it required a greater degree of courage thus to deny himself, than to stand in the forefront of a battle, or to face the mouth of a cannon! But "by faith he forsook Egypt, and went and lived a stranger in a strange land; for he endured as seeing him who is invisible;" yes, "he had respect unto the recompence of reward."

      In short, through this, the holy tribes of martyrs, in all ages, loved not their lives unto the death. By faith in invisible realities, as the apostle to the Hebrews largely proves, they bore all manner of cruelties, not accepting deliverance itself upon dishonourable conditions; suffered all kinds of deaths with unremitting fortitude, and, in some sort, like their glorious Leader, triumphed over principalities and powers when they fell.

      Indeed, every man in the world may be said to walk either by faith or by sight. There is not only a giving up sensible for invisible enjoyments, by actually parting with them, but by not setting our hearts upon them, as our chief good. This may be done where there is no call actually to give them up, and is done by all real Christians in the world. Men whose chief good consists in the profits, pleasures, or honours of this life live by sight; they derive their life from objects before their eyes, having neither patience nor inclination to wait for a portion in the world to come. But good men, as well the rich as the poor, derive their life from above, and so live by faith; their "life is hid with Christ in God."

      Perhaps here, as much as any where, is required the peculiar exercise of faith. For one actually divested of earthly good to look upward, and set his heart on things above, is faith; but for one still possessed of this — one on whom Providence smiles, prospering him in all he sets his hand to, blessing him with wife and children, houses and lands, in abundance — for him to exercise such a degree of indifference to all these as to derive his chief happiness from invisible realities, this is faith indeed! This seems to have been exemplified in Abraham, and other patriarchs. Of him it is said, "By faith he sojourned in the Land of Promise, as in a strange country." How is this? We do not wonder that when he and Sarah went into Egypt, on account of a famine, he should consider himself a sojourner there; but how is it that he should do so in Canaan, the Land of Promise, his own estate, as it were? The next verse informs us; "for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." So Jacob, when before Pharaoh, called his whole life a pilgrimage, though the far greater part of it was spent in the Land of Promise; and "they that say such things," adds the apostle, "declare plainly that they seek a country." Though God had given them the good land, they would not make it their chief good. They could not be contented with this Canaan, but longed for another. Noble souls! bid them lift up their eyes eastward, and westward, and northward, and southward, and tell them all they can see is their own; still they will not live by sight, but by faith; "they will desire a better country, that is, a heavenly."

      4. There are many low and distressing seasons to which the church of God is subject, in which there is little or no visible ground of encouragement, scarcely any but what arises from the promise of God. The whole church of God, as individuals, has, in all ages, had its day of adversity set over against the day of prosperity. Israel, after their deliverance from Egypt and settlement in Canaan, enjoyed pretty much prosperity, especially in the days of David and Solomon. But afterwards, by a series of provocations,


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they procured to themselves the Babylonish captivity. At that melancholy period, those amongst them that feared the Lord must be supposed to be all in darkness. Jerusalem laid waste; the temple burnt with fire; Judah carried captive; ah, what becomes of God's interest in the world! The "foundations" of his visible kingdom seemed to be "laid in the holy mountains" round about Jerusalem; if these are destroyed, what can the righteous do? They had long sighed and cried for the idolatrous abominations of their countrymen, and prayed and hoped that mercy might be lengthened out; but now all seems over. For their idolatry, they must go, and have enough of idolaters: they that feared the Lord must also go with them. By the rivers of Babylon they must go, and sit down. Those that had been used to sound the high praises of God in Zion must now hang their harps upon the willows, as having no use for them! Nor is this the worst; they must be taunted, and their GOD derided, by their insulting lords: "Come," said they, "sing us one of the songs of Zion;" as if they had said, Now see what your religion has availed you! This was your favourite employ, and these were the songs wherewith you addressed your Deity, in whom you confided to deliver you out of our hands; what think you now? Poor Zion! "She spreadeth forth her hands, but there is none to comfort her. The Lord hath commanded that her adversaries should be round about her:" her captive sons can only remember Jerusalem and weep! Alas, "how can they sing the Lord's song in a strange land!"

      But is there no help from above? Is there no physician there? Yes, the God whom Babel derides, but Judah adores, looks down, and sees their affliction. To his disheartened friends, in this situation, he addresses himself, saying, "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." As if he should say, For a season you must walk by faith, and not by sight; but, trust me, that season shall soon be over. Seventy years, and Babylon shall fall, and Judah return! By these declarations the church was encouraged in her captivity, and furnished with an answer to her insulting foes; yea, and, what is wonderful, breaks forth into one of the Lord's songs in a strange land! (Hearken, O Babel, to "one of the songs of Zion!") "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me; he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the Lord thy God?"

      This is encouraging to us as churches and as ministers. We have, in many cases, to walk in darkness, and have no light, and to go on in our ministrations, in a great degree, like the prophet Isaiah, lamenting that there are so few who have believed our report, so few to whom the arm of the Lord has been revealed. When death removes worthy characters, we must sometimes live, and lament to see their places unoccupied by others of the like character; and, what is worse, instead of increase by Christ's conquests, we must sometimes live to see a decrease by the conquests of the evil one! Many a faithful minister has had to preach, year after year, till, either by public scandals or private disgusts, many of his people have gone off, and walked no more with him. But let him then remember the testimony of God: "Him that honoureth me I will honour." Let him go on, and faithfully discharge his duty, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear; let him, and those that are with him, walk by faith, and not by sight. It often proves that, after such a night of weeping, comes a morning of rejoicing.


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Let us not be discouraged; better breath than ours has been spent apparently in vain. Our Lord himself seemed to labour in vain, and to spend his strength for nought; but he comforted himself in this, (herein leaving us an example,) "Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength."

      This may encourage and direct us in larger concerns; concerns which respect the whole interest of Christ in the world. If we compare the present state of things, or even the past, with the glorious prophecies of the word of God, we cannot think, surely, that all is yet accomplished. By these prophecies the Christian church is encouraged to look for great things at some period or other of her existence. She is taught to look for a time when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea;" when "a nation shall be born at once;" when "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ;" and he "shall reign from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." But surely, for the present, though great things, upon the whole, have been done in the world, yet nothing like this has ever come to pass. Instead of the world being conquered, what a great part yet continues to stand out against him! Heathenism, Mahomedism, popery, and infidelity, how extensive still their influence! In all probability not a single country, city, town, village, or congregation has ever yet been brought wholly to submit to Christ! Nay, is it not very rare to find, in any one of these, so many real friends as to make even a majority in his favour? May not the Christian church then, for the present, adopt that language, "We have been with child, we have as it were brought forth wind, we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen?" What then, shall we despair? God forbid! "The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry;" and, meanwhile, "the just shall live by faith."

      Let us take encouragement, in the present day of small things, by looking forward, and hoping for better days. Let this be attended with earnest and united prayer to him by whom Jacob must arise. A life of faith will ever be a life of prayer. O brethren, let us pray much for an outpouring of God's Spirit upon our ministers and churches, and not upon those only of our own connexion and denomination, but upon "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours!"

      Our hope of a better state, when this is over, is built on faith in God's testimony. We have no sort of evidence but this that any such state exists. We cannot see any thing of the kind, or aught from which we can infer it. We cannot learn it from any of our senses. Reason itself could never have found it out. Reason might have taught us the idea of a future state, but not of a future state of bliss. Though much might be argued from the fitness of things, to prove that man is not made barely for the present life, yet nothing could thence be drawn to prove that rebels against the Supreme Being should live in a state of eternal felicity; no, for this we are wholly indebted to the word of promise. Hence faith is said to be "the substance, ground, or foundation of things hoped for." Supported by that, we sustain our heaviest losses; and, attracted by these, we come up out of great tribulations, following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, till we shall overcome, and "sit down with him in his throne, as he also hath overcome, and is set down with his Father in his throne."

     II. We will now add a few words on the IMPORTANCE of such a life. If, all things considered, it would have been best for us to have always seen our


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way before us, - to have been guided, so to speak, with our own eyes, and not to have implicitly followed the directions of God, - no doubt so it would have been ordered. But he who perfectly, and at once, saw the beginning and end of all things, judged otherwise. With the highest wisdom, no doubt, he formed the resolution, "the just shall live by faith." It may be impossible for us, in the present state, to find out all the reasons for this resolution; but two or three seem to present themselves to our view.

      1. Such a life brings great glory to God. Confidence is universally a medium of honour. To confide in a fellow creature puts honour upon him in the account of others, and affords a pleasure to himself; especially if he be a wise and upright character, as it gives him an opportunity of proving his wisdom and fidelity. Though the great God cannot be made more honourable than he is, by any thing we can do, yet his honour may, by this, be made more apparent. We honour him, so far as we form just conceptions of him in our own minds, and act so as to give just representations of him to others. God is graciously pleased to declare that "he takes pleasure in those that hope in his mercy;" and why? surely, among other things, because it gives him occasion to display the glory of his grace. And as he takes pleasure in those that hope in his mercy and rely upon it, so he takes pleasure in ordering things so that we may be put to the trial, whether we will rely on him or not. It was this which induced him to lead Israel through the wilderness, rather than by the ready road to Canaan. He knew they would be, in fact, dependent upon him, let them be where they would; but they would not be sensible of that dependence, nor have so much opportunity of entirely trusting him, in any way as in this; and so it would not he so much for the glory of his great name. He therefore would lead a nation, with all their little ones, into an inhospitable desert, where was scarcely a morsel of meat to eat, and, in many places, not a drop of water to drink; "a land of deserts and of pits, of scorpions and fiery flying serpents:" here, if any where, they must be sensibly dependent on God. They must be fed and preserved immediately from heaven itself, and that by miracle, or all perish in a few days! Here God must appear to be what he was - here mercy and truth must appear to go with them indeed!

      What an opportunity was afforded them to have walked these forty years by faith! what grounds for an entire confidence! but, alas, their faithless hearts perverted their way, and, in the end, proved their ruin! Ten times they tempted God in the desert, till at length he swore, concerning that generation, that, for their unbelief, they should die in the wilderness, and never enter his rest. Few, if any, besides Joshua and Caleb, would dare to trust him, notwithstanding all his wonders and all his mercies! they, however, for their part, took hold of his strength, and thought themselves able, having God on their side, to encounter any thing! Their spirit was to walk by faith, and not by sight; and herein it is easy to see how they glorified God.

      O brethren, let the glory of God be near our hearts! Let it be dearer to us than our dearest delights! Herein consists the criterion of true love to him. Let us, after the noble example of Joshua and Caleb, "follow the Lord fully." Let us approve of every thing that tends to glorify him. Let us be reconciled to his conduct, who "suffers us to hunger, that we may know that man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." If he should bring us into hard and difficult situations, situations to an eye of sense impossible to be endured, let us remember that it is that he may give us an opportunity of glorifying him, by trusting him in the dark. The more difficult the trial, the more glory to


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him that bears us through, and the greater opportunity is afforded us for proving that we can indeed trust him with all our concerns - that we can trust him when we cannot see the end of his present dispensations.

      Those very much dishonour God who profess to trust him for another world, but in the common difficulties of this are perpetually murmuring, peevish, and distrustful. How different was it with Abraham, in offering up his son Isaac. What, offer up Isaac! my son, my only son of promise! Why, is not the Messiah to spring out of his loins? What are to become of all the nations of the earth, who are to be blessed in him! How natural and excusable might such questions have seemed! much more so than most of our objections to the Divine conduct. Sense, in this case, had it been consulted, must have entered a thousand protests. But the father of the faithful consulted not with flesh and blood, not doubting but God knew what he was about, if he himself did not. (Oh that we may prove ourselves the children of faithful Abraham!) Against hope, in appearance, he believed in hope of Divine all-sufficiency; fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able to perform, he stretched forth his obedient arm; nor had he recalled it, had not Heaven interposed: he was "strong in faith, giving glory to God."

      2. It is productive of great good to us. The glory of God and the good of those that love him (thanks be to his name!) always go together. It is equally to their benefit as to his honour, for instance, to lie low before him, and to feel their entire dependence upon him. It is essential to the real happiness of an intelligent creature to be in its proper place, and to take a complacency in being so. But nothing tends more to cultivate these dispositions than God's determining that, at present, we should walk by faith, and not by sight. Faith, in the whole of it, tends more than a little to abase the fallen creature; and to walk by faith (which is as much as to acknowledge that we are blind, and must see with the eyes of another) is very humbling. The objects of our desire being frequently for a time withheld, and our being at such times reduced to situations wherein we can see no help, and thus obliged to repose our trust in God, contribute more than a little to make us feel our dependence upon him. Agur saw that a constant fulness of this world was unfriendly to a spirit of entire dependence upon God; therefore he prayed, "Give me not riches; lest I be full, and deny thee." Whatever tends to humble and try us tends to "do us good in the latter end."

      Great and wonderful is the consolation that such a life affords. In all the vicissitudes of life and horrors of death, nothing can cheer and fortify the mind like this. By faith in an unseen world we can endure injuries without revenge, afflictions without fainting, and losses without despair. Let the nations of the earth dash, like potsherds, one against another; yea, let nature herself approach towards her final dissolution; let her groan as being ready to expire, and sink into her primitive nothing; still the believer lives! His all is not on board that vessel His chief inheritance lies in another soul!

"His hand the good man fastens on the skies,
And bids earth roll, nor feels her idle whirl!"

      3. It will make vision the sweeter. It affords a great pleasure, when we make a venture of any kind, to find ourselves at last not disappointed. If a considerate man embark his all on board a vessel, and himself with it, he may have a thousand fears, before he reaches the end of his voyage; yet should he, after numberless dangers, safely arrive, and find it not only answer, but far exceed his expectations, his joy will then be greater than if he had run no hazard at all. What he has gained will seem much sweeter than if it had fallen to him in a way that had cost him nothing. Thus believers
[p. 134]
venture their all in the hands of Christ, persuaded that he is able to keep that which they have committed to him against that day. To find at last that they have not confided in him in vain — yea, that their expectations are not only answered, but infinitely outdone — will surely enhance the bliss of heaven. The remembrance of our dangers, fears, and sorrows will enable us to enjoy the heavenly state with a degree of happiness impossible to have been felt, if those dangers, fears, and sorrows had never existed.

      My hearers! we all of us live either by faith or by sight; either upon things heavenly or things earthly. If on the former, let us go on, upon the word of God; everlasting glory is before us! But if on the latter, alas, our store will be soon exhausted! All these dear delights are but the brood of time, a brood that will soon take to themselves wings, and, with her that cherished them, fly away. O my hearers! is it not common for many of you to suppose that those who live by faith in the enjoyments of a world to come live upon mere imaginations? But are ye not mistaken? It is your enjoyments, and not theirs, that are imaginary. Pleasures, profits, honours, what are they? The whole form only a kind of ideal world, a sort of splendid show, like that in a dream, which, when you wake, all is gone! At most it is a fashion, and a fashion that passeth away. To grasp it is to grasp a shadow; and to feed upon it is to feed upon the wind. Oh that you may turn away your eyes from beholding these vanities, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the substantial realities beyond the grave, for your never-failing portion!

      But if not, if you still prefer this world, with its enjoyments, to those which are heavenly, how just will it be for the Lord Jesus to say to you, at the last great day, Depart! Depart, you have had your reward! you have had your choice; what would you have? You never chose me for your portion: you, in effect, said, of me and my interest, "We will have no part in David, nor inheritance in the son of Jesse: see to thyself, David." Ah, now, see to thyself, sinner!

      Christians, ministers, brethren, all of us! let us realize the subject. Let us pray, and preach, and hear, and do every thing we do with eternity in view! Let us deal much with Christ and invisible realities. Let us, whenever called, freely deny ourselves for his sake, and trust him to make up the loss. Let us not faint under present difficulties, but consider them as opportunities afforded us to glorify God. Let us be ashamed that we derive our happiness so much from things below, and so little from things above. In one word, let us fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life!

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[From Joseph Belcher, The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, Volume I, 1845; reprint, 1988, pp. 117-134. Document provided via CD by David Oldfield, Post Falls, ID. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]


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