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SERMON CXIV.

ON THE DISCOVERIES OF FAITH.

HEBREWS XI. 1.

"Now Faith is the Evidence of Things not seen."

1. FOR many ages it has been allowed by sensible men, Nihil est in intellectu quod non fuit prius in sensu: that is, "There is nothing in the understanding which was not first perceived by some of the senses." All the knowledge which we naturally have, is originally derived from our senses. And therefore those that want any sense, cannot have the least knowledge or idea of the objects of that sense as they that never had sight, have not the least knowledge or conception of light or colours. Some indeed have, of late years, endeavoured to prove, that we have innate ideas, not derived from any of the senses, but co-eval with the understanding. But this point has been now thorougly discussed, by men of the most eminent sense and learning. And it is agreed by all impartial persons, that although some things are so plain and obvious, that we can hardly avoid knowing them, as soon as we come to the use of our understanding, yet the knowledge even of these is not innate, but derived from some of our senses.

2. But there is a great difference between our senses, considered as the avenues of our knowledge. Some of them have a very narrow sphere of action: some a more

extensive one. By feeling we discern only those objects that touch some part of our body; and, consequently, this sense extends only to a small number of objects. Our senses of taste and smell (which some count species of feeling) extend to fewer still. But, on the other hand, our nobler sense of hearing has an exceedingly wide sphere of action; especially in the case of loud sounds, as thunder, the roaring of the sea, or the discharge of cannon: the last of which sounds has been frequently heard at the distance of nearly a hundred miles. Yet the space to which the sense of hearing itself extends is small, compared to that through which the sight extends. The sight takes in at one view, not only the most unbounded prospects on earth, but also the moon and the other planets, the sun, yea, the fixed stars, though at such an immeasurable distance, that they appear no larger through our finest telescopes than they do to the naked eye.

3. But still none of our senses, no, not the sight itself, can reach beyond the bounds of this visible world. They supply us with such knowledge of the material world, as answers all the purposes of life. But as this was the design for which they were given, beyond this they cannot go. They furnish us with no information at all concerning the invisible world.

4. But the wise and gracious Governor of the worlds, both visible and invisible, has prepared a remedy for this defect. He hath appointed faith to supply the defect of sense; to take us up where sense sets us down, and help us over the great gulf. Its office begins where that of sense ends. Sense is an evidence of things that are seen: of the visible, the material world, and the several parts of it. Faith, on the other hand, is the "evidence of things not seen," of the invisible world: of all those invisible things which are revealed in the Oracles of God. But, indeed, they reveal nothing, they are a mere dead letter, if they are "not mixed with faith in those that hear them.”

5. In particular: Faith is an evidence to me of the exist ence of that unseen thing, my own soul. Without this I

should be in utter uncertainty concerning it. I should be constrained to ask that melancholy question,

"Hear'st thou submissive, but a lowly birth?
Some separate particles of finer earth?"

But by Faith, I know it is an immortal spirit, made in the image of God, in his natural and moral image, "an incorruptible picture of the God of glory." By the same evidence I know that I am now fallen short of the glorious image of God: yea, that I, as well as all mankind, am "dead in trespasses and sins." So utterly dead, that “in me dwelleth no good thing;" that I am inclined to all evil, and totally unable to quicken my own soul.

6. By Faith I know, that besides the souls of men, there are other orders of spirits: yea, I believe that

"Millions of creatures walk the earth

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Unseen, whether we wake, or if we sleep."

These I term angels, and I believe part of them are holy and happy, and the other part wicked and miserable. I believe the former of these, the good angels, are continually sent of God," to minister to the heirs of salvation," who will be “equal to angels" by and by, although they are now a little inferior to them. I believe the latter, the evil angels, called in Scripture, devils, united under one head, (termed in Scripture Satan; emphatically, the Enemy, the Adversary, both of God and man,) either range the upper regions, whence they are called "Princes of the power of the air;" or like him, "walk about the earth as roaring lions, seeking whom they may devour."

7. But I know by Faith, that above all these, is the Lord, Jehovah; He that is, that was, and that is to come, that is God from everlasting, and world without end: He that filleth heaven and earth: He that is infinite in power, in justice, in mercy, and holiness: He that created all things, visible and invisible, by the breath of his mouth, and still upholds them all, preserves them in being, "by the word of his power:" and that governs all things, that are in heaven above, in earth beneath, and under the earth. By Faith I know," there are Three that bear record in heaven,

the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and that these Three are One:" that the Word, God the Son," was made flesh," lived and died for our salvation, rose again, ascended into heaven, and now sitteth on the right hand of the Father. By Faith I know that the Holy Spirit is the giver of all spiritual life; of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; of holiness and happiness, by the restoration of that image of God, wherein we are created. Of all these things, Faith is the evidence, the sole evidence to the children of men.

8. And as the information which we receive from our Senses, does not extend to the invisible world, so neither does it extend to (what is nearly related thereto) the eternal world. In spite of all the instruction which either the sight or any of the senses can afford,

"The vast, the unbounded prospect lies before us," But clouds, alas! and darkness rest upon it."

Sense does not let in one ray of light, to discover "the secrets of the illimitable deep." This, the eternal world, commences at death, the death of every individual person. The moment the breath of man goeth forth, he is an inhabitant of eternity. Just then, time vanishes away, "like as a dream when one awaketh." And here again, Faith supplies the place of sense, and gives us a view of things to come: at once it draws aside the veil which hangs between mortal and immortal beings. Faith discovers to us the souls of the righteous, immediately received by the holy angels, and carried by those ministering spirits into Abraham's bosom; into the delights of Paradise, the garden of God, where the light of his countenance perpetually shines : where the spirit departed converses, not only with his former relations, friends, and fellow-soldiers, but with the saints of all nations and all ages: with the glorious dead of ancient days: with the noble army of Martyrs, the Apostles, the Prophets, the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yea, above all this, he shall be with Christ in a manner that he could not be while he remained in the body.

9. Faith discovers, likewise, the souls of unholy men; seized the moment they depart from the quivering lips, by those ministers of vengeance, the evil angels, and dragged away to their own place. It is true, this is not the nethermost hell: they are not to be tormented there "before the time;" before the end of the world, when every one will receive his just recompence of reward. Till then they will probably be employed by their bad master, in advancing his infernal kingdom, and in doing all the mischief that lies in their power, to the poor, feeble children of men. But still, wherever they seek rest, they will find none. They carry with them their own hell, in the worm that never dieth; in a consciousness of guilt, and of the wrath of God, which continually drinks up their spirits; in diabolical, infernal tempers, which are essential misery; and in what they cannot shake off, no, not for an hour, any more than they can shake off their own being, that "fearful looking for of fiery indignation, which will devour God's adversaries."

10. Moreover, Faith opens another scene in the eternal world, namely, the coming of our Lord in the clouds of heaven, to "judge both the quick and the dead." It en ables us to see the "great white throne coming down from heaven, and him that sitteth thereon, from whose face the heavens and the earth flee away, and there is found no place for them." We see "the books opened, and the dead judged, according to the things that are written in the books." We see the earth and sea giving up their dead, and hell (that is, the invisible world) giving up the dead that were therein, and every one judged according to his works.

11. By Faith we are also shewn the immediate consequences of the General Judgment. We see the execution of that happy sentence pronounced upon those on the right hand, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" After which the holy angels tune their harps and sing, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the heirs of glory may come in!" And then shall they drink of the rivers of pleasure that are

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