Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.…
1. Faith is the confidence — the firm persuasion — of things hoped for. In the ancient games the runner hoped to win the race, to wear the crown of pine or olive leaves around his brow, and to have his name handed down as victor to untold generations; so, in the confidence of this, he strained every nerve and sinew to reach the goal. That was natural faith. The student hopes to win the prize and find his name in the honours list, and he gives his days and nights to reading. The farmer ploughs the land and sows the field, in hope that in due season he shall put in the sickle and gather the harvest. The merchant and tradesman hope to gain a competency or to make a fortune, and put forth their efforts day by day. These are illustrations of natural faith. So it is with the faith that has to do with spiritual things. The Christian sets before him, not the crown of fading leaves, but the crown that shall never fade away, which the Lord will place upon the brow of all who endure unto the end. He seeks for the smile and approbation of the Saviour, for the treasures in heaven, for the bags which wax not old. This is spiritual faith.
2. Faith is the demonstration of things not seen. Columbus believed that there was another world in the western hemisphere; he was as fully assured of its existence as if it had been demonstrated by mathematical proof. Yet he had not seen the new world; he had never looked upon its mighty rivers, or upon the broad expanse of its prairies and savannahs. He had not ever seen in the dim distance the peak of any of its mountains, or the outline of its coast. No navigator had told him, "I have seen the new world; I have cast anchor in its harbours; I have set foot upon it." Yet, in the full conviction that there was another world, he toiled and waited many years, until his eye rested upon it and he landed on its shores. This was natural faith — the demonstration of things not seen. Some years ago the astronomers, Mr. Adams of Cambridge, and M. Leverries of Paris, were convinced that there must be a large planet that had never been seen through a telescope or marked down in any star-map; so they watched the midnight heavens in a certain direction until the planet came within the range of their glass. This was the way the planet Neptune was discovered. This was natural faith. It is even so with the faith that has to do with spiritual things. God is unseen; His glory is dimly reflected in His works. We see the work of His fingers in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. Creation is a book in which we may read, page after page, His handwriting, His own Divine autograph; but the Almighty Writer is unseen. In the flowers of the field we see the forms of beauty which He has pencilled and coloured and enamelled; the Divine Artist we see not. We stand and gaze with wonder and admiration upon a part of this beautiful temple of creation, but we see not the Divine Architect; yet, as in St. Paul's Cathedral, we read of the architect, Sir Christopher Wren, "If you seek his monument, look around," so we see in the skill and wisdom displayed in this glorious creation the monument of the Almighty Builder. We believe that God is, and that He is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. We believe in the great love which He has towards us, which He has revealed in Jesus Christ; that, like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him; that He watches over us by day and by night, that His ear is open to our prayer, His arm stretched out for our defence. We believe that He is present with us in the house of prayer, and we can say with the confidence of Jacob, "Surely the Lord is in this place," &c. We believe that He has given to us exceeding great and precious promises, that we may be partakers of the Divine nature; and that, although the heaven and the earth pass away, not one of these promises will fail. We believe in an unseen Saviour, &c.
(W. Bull, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.