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Things about me are present and real : I see, I feel the World; and every Sense directs me to the Enjoyment of it: Buţ for Heaven, where is it? Distant it is, I am sure, and out of Sight ; and perhaps is only a Delusion of fickly Imagination. When this Reasoning prevails, as too often it does, tell me, I befeech
is it not a Victory gained by Sense over the Power of Faith ? Had Faith been strong enough to have placed in view the Substance of Things hoped for, to have made evident the Things not seen, could the World so easily have prevailed ? I trust, it could not ; for the Things of Faith as much excel the Things of Sense, as the Heavens are higher than the Earth. But, where Faith is not strong enough to make a Competition between the Things of Futurity and the present Pleasures, the World must triumph, and the Sinner will be loft for want of Faith. On the other Side, what is it that makes Men willingly endure Afflictions and Persecutions? Do you think the righteous Man fo very filly as not to know that Pleasure is better than Pain, Ease and Tranquillity to be preferred to Vexation and Torment ?. Can you imagine that he chuses Oppression for Oppreffion's Sake? No certainly : But his Faith,
his Trust and Confidence in God, make him esteem the Promises of God as if they were present before his Eyes ; to the Hopes of them he sacrifices the World ; and, after the Example of his great Master, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, for the Foy that is set before him, he endures the Cross, despising the Shame. Thus Mofes by Faith, when he was come to Years, refused to be called the Son of Pharaoh's Daughter, chusing rather to Juffer Affliction with the People of God, than to enjoy the Pleasures of Sin for a Season. Mark the Reason which follows, and the Power of his Faith : Esteeming the Reproach of Christ greater Reason than the Treasures in Egypt : For he had respect unto the Recompence of Reward. By Faith also be forsook Egypt, not fearing the Wrath of the King. But what Confidence was this? What Forces, what Allies, had he to support him against the united Strength of Egypt? Thus Sense indeed would reason. But through Faith he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible : Though he had no vifible Protector, yet through Faith he saw the Hand of God stretched out for his Deliverance. This was his Confidence, this his Support
Towards the Close of this eleventh Chapter the Apostle fings the Triumphs of Faith
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under allthe Cruelties of Men: Others, says he, were tortured; and others had Trial of cruel Mockings and Scourgings, yea moreover of Bonds and Imprisonments : They were stoned, they were fawn afunder, were tempted, were pain with the Sword; they wandered about in Sheep-skins and Goat-skins, being destitute, aflikted, tormented. All these persisted in Faith, not accepting Deliverance, that they might obtain a better Resurrection. The Resurrection was a State they had never seen ; it was what they could only hope for : But the Promise of God was to them more than the Evidence of Sight; and to their Trust and Confidence in him they willingly gave up all that their Eyes beheld, and submitted to the Evils, which Sense is ever warning us against.
From this Account it will be easy to understand what the Scripture means, when it tells us that Faith overcometh the World: For Religion is a Contest between the World and Faith, between Things present and Things to come. Faith puts us under the Conduct of future Hopes and Fears, exempts us from the Power and Influenceof Things present; which present. Things are the World: And therefore ’tis properly said of Faith, that it overcometh the World.
To this Notion of Faith agrees likewise what St. Paul had said concerning it in his Comparison between Faith, Hope, and Charity, and other spiritual Gifts, such as Speaking with Tongues, Prophesying, and Healing of Distempers. These shall cease: But now remaineth, says the Apostle, Faith, Hope and Charity; and the greatest of these is Charity : For Charity and universal Benevolence is the very Grace and Ornament of Heaven, the Employment and the Pleasure of blessed Spirits. Nor can Faith and Hope ever be parted from true Religion: For there is no Being so great as not to depend on Faith in God, and Trust in his Power and Wisdom, or to be above hoping any thing from his Goodness and Benevolence. And therefore the Apostle says exprefly of Faith and Hope, that they shall remain, with Charity, the greatest of the three. Other Gifts are bestowed for the Service of the Church, such as Tongues, Miracles, and the like ; and they may
well cease, when the Occasion which required them ceases : But Faith, Hope, and Charity are not occasional Gifts, but are essential to Religion, and must continue as long as Religion itself..
From this Account we may perceive likewife how the Heart comes to have such an
Interest and Influence in the Faith of a Christian. 'Tis the Love of the World that is the Enemy of Faith: And is not the Heart of Man the very Magazine from which the World supplies itself with Arms ? Where dwell Self-love, Luft, Envy, and Covetoufness, are not these the evil Treasure of an evil Heart ? and are not these the fierceft Combatants against Faith ? and may not an Heart thus stocked' be properly styled an Heart of Unbelief?
In other Matters of Faith, which seem to be of a more abstracted Nature, and to depend entirely on the Reason and Judgment of Men, the Heart often interposes with too much Success : For these are so nearly related to the Faith which subdues the World and the Heart, that the Heart, watchful for itself and the World, disturbs the Mind, and raises such Clouds of Passion, as intercept the Light of Truth. To believe Christ to be the Son of God, to have dwelt for ever in the Glory of his Father, from thence to have come to our Redemption, and to have published the Faith in Signs and Wonders and mighty Works, are such killing Blows to the Love of the World, that the Heart cannot be unconcerned whilst