These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…
1. In the profession of the faith. They held fast the truths of God to the death. They denied not, they made not shipwreck of faith; they suffered not Satan or his instruments to cheat them of it; exchanged it not for fancies, delusions; made not their opinions subservient to carnal interests; did not tack about, not carried about with every wind. Judgments firmly anchored in truth could ride out foul weather, bear up against storms.
2. In the state of faith. As they lived, so they died, believers. Having begun in the Spirit, they did not end in the flesh. They lost not the habit of faith, but bore on towards perfection; that when their outward man decayed, faith increased, and was strongest in the greatest weakness, in death.
3. In the expression of faith.
4. In the exercise faith. As they acted faith in their life, so in their death. Their life was the life of faith, as Paul (Galatians 2:20). Faith had an influence into every act of their life. Abel sacririced by faith (ver. 4); ordinary acts: Abraham's travel (ver. 8); extraordinary: Noah's building an ark (ver. 7). What they did, they did by faith, i.e., depending upon Christ for strength, believing the promise for assistance and success. Thus they lived, and thus they died in faith, with confidence that God would perform what He had promised, even after their death, to them or theirs.Directions:
1. What you may live and die in the faith of Christ, take this golden rule: "Receive the truth in the love of it" (2 Thessalonians 2:10). If you would continue in the truth, and have the Lord establish you in it, love the truth for itself, and love it above all inferior respects whatsoever.
2. That you may live and die in the state of faith, get into that happy state. Get faith rooted and grounded in your hearts, and then you are sure: "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."
3. That .Son may live and die in the expression of faith; i.e., that you may not deal unfaithfully in the covenant; consider how horribly wretched such unfaithfulness is. Whose that use to deal unfaithfully with men, lie, or forswear, to get some advantage, there may be some temptation to this; but he that deals unfaithfully with God deals unfaithfully with God to ruin himself.
4. That ye may die in the exercise of faith,
(1) Learn to live in the exercise of it. The more faith is acted, the easier it will be to exercise.
(2) Treasure up the promises in your memories. No such treasure as this. You will find riches a vain thing in that hour, they cannot deliver from death; but faith acted on the promises both support in it, and deliver from it.
(3) Clear up your evidences for heaven. While your title is dark, faith will be weak. How can ye be confident of the eternal blessings of the covenant, while ye have no assurance that you are in covenant? How can ye with confidence go out to meet the bridegroom when ye know not whether ye have oil in your lamps? When you have cleared this evidence, endeavour to keep it clear. Sin blots it, guilt is a blur in the evidence. If you avoid not these in your lives, you will scarce read your evidence at death, and then faith may be nonplussed and to seek, when most needed. Endeavour to keep a good conscience always, in all things, towards God and man, that so you may have the testimony of God and of your conscience on your deathbeds (2 Corinthians 1:12).
(4) Lay up experiences. The remembrance of experiments of God's mercy and faithfulness in your lives will be a sweet support to faith in death. God's people have made good use of experiences to this purpose (2 Timothy 4:18).
(D. Clarkson, . B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.