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thy Redeemer is mighty; “ the Lord of Hosts is his name.” Praise him for the grace he has shown to thee, and trust him for the accomplishment of all his promises.
FAITH OF THOMAS.
JOHN XX. 29.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me,
thou hast believed : blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
You recollect, my brethren, the occasion on which these words were uttered: Jesus had risen from the tomb; he had appeared to all the apostles except Thomas; their united testimony to this great truth could not convince him; he had insisted on the testimony of his own senses, exclaiming, “ Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Jesus might justly have left him in his unbelief, but he condescends to satisfy his desires. Thomas, convinced by his own senses, was confounded at his former unbelief, and adored Jesus as his Lord and
his God. The Redeemer then addressed him in the words of the text: “ Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
Faith, resting upon the word of promise, upon a divine testimony, is more noble, spiritual, and ingenuous; displays more candour and humility, and brings more glory to God, than that which is the result of sensible manifestation.
In illustrating these words, let us,
I. Examine the nature of that faith which is here commended by our Saviour; and,
II. Show that those who possess it are blessed.
I. What is the nature and what are the properties of that faith, to which a peculiar blessing is here promised by the Saviour?
Faith, in its most general sense, is the strong persuasion of any truth, the firm assent of the mind to it. This persuasion may be founded on the evidence of our senses: thus Thomas believed that Jesus was risen, because he saw, felt, and heard him; thus I believe there is a sun, because I behold it, and am warmed by its beams. Sometimes this persuasion is founded on the deductions of reason : thus, because I discover in the universe so many effects, to produce which there must have been an intelligent First Cause, I believe there is a God. Thus our Saviour says to the Jews, (John X. 37.) “ If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works ;": where he calls upon them to rely not merely upon his testimony concerning himself, but to consider rationally the quality of his works, and to ground their assent to his claims not merely upon authority, but upon principles of reason.
But though the word faith is thus used, both in common language and in the scriptures, to signify that persuasion which is founded on the evidence of the senses or the deductions of reason, yet, in its more strict and proper sense, it denotes that assent of the mind which is founded on testimony. It is in this manner we believe, although we do not see. Thus I am told that there is such a city as Rome, such a river as the Nile; and though I have never seen them, I am persuaded of their existence, because it is confirmed to me by witnesses who had opportunities of knowing, and who had no interest in deceiving me. Their testimony fully supplies the place of the evidence of the senses or the deductions of reason. If the testimony be that of man, there results from it human faith; if the testimony be that of God, there results from it divine faith; if it be of God through Jesus Christ and his apostles, there results Christian faith. Thus, in their general na
, ture, that human faith, whereby we are regulated in our worldly pursuits, in our studies, and our sentiments; and that divine faith, whereby the life of the Christian is directed, agree; although they differ in their objects. They both consist in crediting facts past or to come, facts authentically attested, facts which we believe without having seen them, and which we cannot refuse to believe, without rejecting or invalidating the authority of the witnesses and the certainty of their testimony. It is true the scriptures sometimes use the word faith in a more vague sense, but this is its natural and proper signification : an assent of the mind to all revealed truths, which we believe without having seen them, on the testimony of God. Thus it is exhibited by the apostle when he declares, (John iii. 33.) “ He that hath received
his testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true;"> while “ he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he hath not believed the record which God gave of his Son.” (1 John v. 10.)
But that we may more fully understand the nature of this faith, let us consider a few of its properties :
1. It is enlightened. , To believe without seeing, is very different from believing without evidence or proof. The declaration of our Saviour only shows us that faith, instead of being supported merely by our senses or our reasonings, rests upon a different and a firmer foundation, the testimony of that God “ who cannot lie.” The believer is not a weak being, receiving every thing without examination; nor an enthusiast, assenting without motive or light. He is commanded to “ prove all things, as well as to hold fast what is good; to search, to examine, to try the spirits ;" he has been illumined by a celestial light; he has seen the clearest evidence that the scriptures are the word of Him who can neither be deceived nor deceive; he devotes the powers of his mind to the examination of the divine testimony ; and is “ ready to give a reason of the hope that is in him."
2. This faith is humble. A thousand objects connected with the being, attributes, and purposes of God, with the schemes of providence, or the plan of redemption, necessarily present to him abysses which no finite mind can fathom; but, filled with veneration and wonder before the Infinite, the incomprehensible, he submits his understanding; he strives not to break through those barriers which the Eternal has placed around his throne; with the seraphim he veils his face while he cries, 66 Othe depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" Instead of disputing when God has clearly pronounced ; instead of forgetting his nothingness, and citing before the tribunal of our feeble reason Him, “ whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain," he submits his understanding to the instructions of the All-Wise, and answers every objection by remembering, “ the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
3. Thus humble, it is also firm. The foundation of his belief is more stable than the heavens and the earth. Instead of being shaken by every wind of doctrine, the sport of every illusion, he rests upon the decisions of Him who is immutably faithful and true ; in the midst of conflicting human systems, he has an anchor entering within the veil. It is not a mere probability, a wavering hope, an uncertain guess ; but the declaration of God, on which he rests his assured belief, and his everlasting interests.
4. This faith is universal in its object: receiving as true the whole of the sacred volume, its histories, its predictions, its doctrines, its precepts, its threatenings, its promises. Since all the scriptures proceeded from God, and since when he speaks there can no longer be any doubt, there can be no event so surprising, no doctrine so mysterious, no prediction so improbable, as to be rejected. In this manner the believer is distinguished from those inconsistent men who, while they acknowledge the scriptures to be the word of God, and receive part of it as true, reject all that they cannot fully comprehend. It is true, indeed, that while faith extends to the whole revelation of God's will, it especially centers on the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the plan of redemption; but though it rightly regards this as the