These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them…
I. CHRISTIANS NO EXERCISE A TRUE FAITH IN THE PROMISES OF GOD.
1. The faith of Christians in the promises of God implies that they understand them.
2. Their faith in the promises of God implies that they have a full and undoubting Conviction of their truth and certainty.
3. The faith of true Christians in the promises of God implies a cordial approbation of them.
II. Such A FIRM AND CORDIAL RELIEF IN THE GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES OF GOD LEADS CHRISTIANS TO LIVE AND ACT AS STRANGERS ON THE EARTH.
1. Pilgrims never feel at home. They find no place which they can call their own; where they can reside as long as they please. They are constrained to go from stage to stage, and to change their situation from day to day. And though they may sometimes find pleasant and desirable places, yet they can find no place at which they can feel at home.
2. Pilgrims feel very much alone in the world. They find but a few travelling their way; and if some now and then fall into their company, yet they are strangers to their views and feelings, and afford them but very little comfort or entertainments and generally they obstruct rather than animate and quicken them in their journey.
3. Pilgrims always feel themselves exposed to danger. Travelling in a foreign country, they are unacquainted with the disposition of the inhabitants, and unused to their customs and manners. On these accounts, they never know when or where they are safe. They cannot place entire confidence in those with whom they converse, whether they wear a friendly or unfriendly aspect. They are exposed to contempt from the great, to fraud from the unjust, and to every evil from the lawless and malevolent.
4. Pilgrims feel thankful for all the agreeable accommodations which they meet with on their way. They are sensible of their dependence on Providence, and on the favour and assistance of their fellow.men. They are thankful for plain and smooth paths, for pleasant weather, and for good stages for rest and refreshment. And they are thankful to every stranger who faithfully directs them and kindly treats them.
5. Pilgrims take nothing with them but what they deem necessary for their journey. They throw aside the superfluities as encumbrances.
6. Pilgrims never think of turning back on account of any difficulties which they meet with in their way. If they are lame, or sick, they stop only till they recover, and then go forward. If the season be unfavourable, they wait only till it becomes better. Or if the roads be obstructed, they wait only till the obstructions are removed.Improvement:
1. If those who cordially embrace the promises of God are real pilgrims, then it is to be expected that they will profess their faith before men, and confess that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.
2. If those who profess to be Christians at the same time profess to be pilgrims, then there is a great impropriety as well as criminality in professors of religion being conformed to the world.
3. If all real Christians are pilgrims, and live and act as such, then they are living monitors to sinners. They admonish both by their profession and practice.
4. If all real Christians are pilgrims, then those have little reason to think that they are pilgrims who do not make it appear so in the sight of the world.
5. If Christians are pilgrims, who are entitled to the great and precious promises of God, then they will be peculiarly happy when they finish their pilgrimage, and reach their long home. All their labours, and dangers, and trials, and sufferings, will work for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
(N. Emmons, D. 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.