Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.…
An unseen and heavenly world is required to correspond to our faith just as much as a material world to correspond to our senses. I stand in the midst of nature on some lovely spring morning. The fragrance of flowers from every bright and waving branch, dressed in pale and crimson, floats to me. The song of matin birds falls on my ear. All this beauty, melody, and richness are the correspondence to my nature of the material world through my senses. Now there are inward perceptions and intuitions just as real as these outward ones, and requiring spiritual realities to correspond with them, just as much as the eye requires the landscape, or as the ear asks for sounds of the winds and woods and streams, for the song of birds, or the dearer accents of the human voice. To meet and answer the very nature of man, a spiritual world, more refined modes of existence, action, happiness, must be, else his nature, satisfied and fed in one direction, and that the lowest, is belied and starved in another direction, and that the highest. But, without illustrating further, in this general way, the rooting of faith in the primary ground of our being, let me show the peculiar light in which the great doctrines and practical influences of religion are brought to us, by thus considering "faith" itself as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." And first the great doctrine or fact of the being of a God is one of the things that corresponds to our faith, of which faith itself, as a faculty of the soul, is the basis and evidence. We want no other reason for believing in God. Faith itself is the reason, and the best reason. "He that believeth hath the witness in himself." We need nothing put under our faith to support that, any more than under our direct outward perceptions, our positive knowledge, the dictates of our consciences, or the affections of our hearts, going forth to fix upon their appropriate objects. Like them, it is a radical part of our very constitution — only a part which Christ has come specially to bring out, enrich, and ennoble with the truth he utters, and the actual objects he presents. To the man in whom this principle or sentiment of faith is thus enlivened by meditation, prayer, and the whole stimulus of the gospel, the Supreme One does not appear simply as a first Cause, an original Creator, far back out of our present reach, but as the perpetual Sustainer and Renewer of all things, to whom he joins with the angelic choir of the poet in singing, "Thy works are beautiful as on the first day." His God is near him, nay, with him; breathes upon him in the freshness of the morning; folds him tenderly in the shades of night, and answers every entreating or confiding desire which he silently ejaculates, with peace, sanctity, assurance that can be felt; "the benediction from these covering heavens falling upon him like dew." As, sailing in northern latitudes, the needle dips to an unseen power, so his heart inclines to the unseen power of heaven and earth. With an ever-quickening sense of the Divine Being, comes also, through this vitally unfolded power of faith, the feeling of a share in the permanence of that Being; a persuasion, and, so far as in the flesh such a thing can be, realisation of the immortality of the soul. As we believe in the world below because we have senses, and not because somebody attempts logically to prove it to us, so we believe in the world above by the inner perceptions of faith. In fine, the same faith, while convincing us of this durableness of our real life, redeems us from the bondage of death, to which many, all their lifetime, are subject. Thus the apostle declares of Christ, that he " abolished death." For just in the degree that, through a religious faith, the feeling of immortality grows in the soul, the death of the body loses power to disturb or alarm it. Principles and affections are developed, on which, we know and are inwardly assured, death cannot lay that icy finger which must chill every flowing drop in the circulation of animal life. The spirit, alive to its relations to God and to all pure beings, is conscious of nothing in common with the grave, has nothing that can be put into the grave save the temporary garment that it wears; and its mounting desires, its ardent love, its swelling hopes, its holy communings, are not stuff woven into the texture of that garment, but are as separable from it as the lamp from its clay vase, as the light of heaven from the clod it for a passing moment illumines. In fact, in this state of inward life, the ideas of the spirit and death, of dust and the soul, cannot be brought together, any more than can the ideas of virtue and colour, thought and material size.
(C. A. Bartol.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.