The Holy Spirit's definition of faith is extraordinarily illuminating.  "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving [or, rather, the mental conviction] of things [actual things] not seen:" (Heb. 11: 1).  Faith is all life squared to the things; facts which we know are behind the veil.  They are "things not seen as yet " (Heb. 11: 7); but as, above and below visible light, and above and below audible sound, there are rays and notes the human has no senses to perceive, yet rays and notes usually actual, equally real, so faith acts on God's statements the realities in the unseen; and our power in this world depends on our vision of the other.  "I would rather be among great believers," said Dr. Gordon, of Boston, "than among great thinkers."  For God's blazing stars in Hebrews Eleven, chiselled statues He has Himself put in the Westminster Abbey of the Bible, had a faith incalculably vaster than the mere conviction of the saving elementaries of the Christian faith.  Men who were sawn asunder, stopped the mouths of lions, subdued kingdoms, quenched the power of fire, had a faith that can dynamite mountains.


In the very first family earth ever had, we find faith's extreme costliness, and the awful sundering power of conviction. "By faith ABEL"- the father of all the martyrs of the world "offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice"- because it was a blood-atonement - "than Cain."  "By faith Abel": faith in what?  All faith (in the Bible) is faith in the Scriptures, as uttered or inscribed by Prophets, and having God for their Author.  Jehovah had said:-"The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, and it shall BRUISE his heel" (Gen. 3: 15).


Abel may, or may not, have known of Messiah's heel crushed by hammer and nails on wood: what any 'believer' must have seen in the words was the Fall undone by Messiah suffering the rage of the Serpent in undoing it.  But Faith no sooner appeared on earth than it cost Eve's second son his: conviction of blood-atonement so suddenly isolated him from all the world, that His own family murdered him.  Faith broke in a dawn of blood, because it had entered a world deeply infidel.


No sooner is justification and its saving gift portrayed lightning flash, than sanctification and its reward is on horizon.  "By faith ENOCH" - the father of all the watchful of the world - "was translated."  Abel is the longest dead of any man that ever was, or ever will be; Enoch has never been dead at all: faith creates both the martyr and the immortal.  Enoch's faith is never named in Genesis, only his walk; but - as the Apostle rightly argues - a God-pleasing walk can come only from constant faith, acting; for “without faith," he says, "it is impossible to please God"; and what pleased God in Enoch's walk was its faith.  In an age when evil men and seducers waxed worse and worse, Enoch lived a LIFE of faith: and his reward - for this is what the [Holy] Spirit emphasizes; Enoch (He says) acted on the fact that God is a Rewarder - was bodily rapture.  Please me, the Flesh says to all; please me, the World says to all; please Me! God says to us all: and the walk of sanctity ended in a sudden heaven.


We have had the worship of faith; and the walk of faith: now we come to the activity of faith. "By faith NOAH" - the father of all the God-fearing souls of the world - "moved by godly fear, prepared an ark."  The Ark was faith in the concrete: it was conviction solidified in act: it was a life shaped to God's stupendous prophecies.  Noah's faith was colossal.  An 'ark' assumed a 'flood': yet for a hundred and twenty years not a rivulet had swelled, not a water-spout had burst, to indicate the coming wrath: even rain, then, had never fallen (Gen. 2: 5-6).  But Noah so believed God as to shape whole life to the coming storm. The fear of God's threats is as essential a part of faith as the reliance on God's Promises.   The "things not seen as yet," by Noah, were enormous: how overpowering the thought that "the things not seen as yet, for us, are the most stupendous drama the universe will ever see.”  Hundreds of thousands of men," a young man wrote from the trenches to the Spectator,"have gone to meet practically certain destruction without giving a sign of terror: very few believe in Hell, or are tortured by their consciences.”  Before those words were in type, Donald Hankey was shot.  There was no fear, because there was no conviction: the world is lost through blindness to the facts beyond the veil.  Noah so shaped his life to coming judgment as to become the second head of the race.


Next we come to faith travelling to the ends of the earth for God.  "By faith ABRAHAM " - the father of all the missionaries of the world - "when he was called, obeyed to go out."  No poverty, no discontent, no persecution drove Abraham from Ur: "not knowing whither he went" - without visible guide, without any map in his hand, he left Ur simply because God commanded, and had said,-"I will show thee the land."  What a vast company would obey God if only they were paid on the spot!  The only landed property Abraham ever acquired was a grave - the burying-place of Machpelah: glorious symbol of those who are waiting for "the city which hath the foundations," to see which is to be so entranced as never to be a citizen on earth again.  Nothing makes the other world so real as the renunciation of this.


We now reach as remarkable an example as any on record of faith in the literal Word of God.  "By faith ISAAC"- the father of all the Bible-lovers of the world - "blessed Jacob and Esau, even concerning things to come."  Two nations contended in Jacob and Esau: the Divine afflatus through Isaac - against Isaac's whole soul - gave the supreme blessing to Jacob; and the moment Isaac saw it, he cried, "I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed."  Glorious faith!  God had spoken through his unconscious lips: as immutable, as irrevocable as God Himself - changing the destinies of nations for thousands of years, and burying a father's hopes - Isaac instantly accepts the word of God against himself.  No subtler test of faith is in the Church to-day - a test in which myriads fail - than the Scriptures which warn [regenerate] believers of coming penalty on [wilful] sin: passionate faith, with face in the dust, delights even in utterances that banish hopes and ruin dreams.


We now reach faith in the last moments of our sunset.


By faith JAC0B”- the father of all the holy death-beds of the world - "when he was a-dying, blessed and worshipped."  Could anything be more lovely?  Amid the stern realities of the dying hour, the stumbling old figure, leaning heavily on the staff still grasped in his pilgrim hands, passes from the world pronouncing benedictions, and adoring God: so God passes over all the faithful, faltering life; and gathers the whole blaze on its golden sunset.  As Spurgeon has said :-"Little faith brings the soul to heaven, but great faith brings heaven to the soul."  And the reverse is true: the organist of a well known minister once told me:-"My minister preached on Genesis; and for a fortnight I was in Hell."  On the deathbed the destructive critic will find no staff on which to lean.  So we pass from faith in dying to faith beyond the grave.


"BY faith JOSEPH" - the father of all the Millenarians of the world -"when his end was nigh, gave commandment concerning his bones."  I do not know any more marvellous example of belief in resurrection.  Joseph might have had the pomp and gold of a tomb of Tutankhamen; ancient writers say that he was so buried, until the Exodus: instead, he made this slave-people sware that they would carry his bones across the vast wilderness, in order that those bones might be in the Holy Land when the graves burst.  His heart was so in Immanuel’s Land that he wanted his very bones there, in the great crisis and there they will be when he springs from his grave: apt symbol of the still holier passion which, buried anywhere concentrates all life.  "if by any means I may attain unto the out-resurrection from among the dead" (Phil. 3: 11).


We now reach the last of the mighty convictions which, in God's sight, make the world's greatest men.  "By faith MOSES" - the father of all the great renunciations of the world - “accounted the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked unto the recompense of reward."  Convictions are the costliest luxuries in the world and what our convictions are worth is decided by what we are willing to pay for them.  Two lessons of burning power stand out from the life of Moses: (1) the Christian is so enormously wealthy that he can afford any renunciation, and be generous without any limit; and (2) faith is believing anything that God says, and suffering anything that God wants.


How tremendous is our summons to faith, and how enormous, all down the ages, has been the responding dynamic among the sons of men!  Jesus walked up and down the shores of the Galilean Sea; and as He passed, He called to Peter and Andrew and James and John, and eight more, saying, Follow Me and they rose up, left all, and followed Him.  Time passes history widens: an Unseen Presence walks up and down the shores of a vaster Sea - the Mediterranean; and again the Unseen Presence calls, Follow Me; and Tertullian, and Augustine, and Anselm, and Savonarola, and Huss, and Wycliffe, and Luther, and Melanctlion, and Zwingle, and Calvin, and Cranmer, and Latimer - another twelve - rose up, left all, and followed Him.  Time passes; history widens: once more an Unseen Presence walks by a still vaster Sea - the Atlantic: and again that Form that no one sees, but all can hear, is saying Follow Me; and John Knox, and Jonathan Edwards, and Wesley, and Whitefield, and Henry Martyn, and Brainard, and Finney, and McCheyne, and Lord Shaftesbury, and George Muller, and Spurgeon, and Moody - another twelve - rose up, left all, and followed Him.  And with what stupendous results!  Shall we join the vast procession?


I heard the call ‘Come follow’; That was all,

Earth's joys grew dim –

My soul went after Him;

I rose and follow'd, That was all:

Will you not follow if you hear His call?


The Bible is a corridor between two eternities down which walks the Christ of God; His invisible steps echo through the Old Testament, but we meet Him face to face in the throne-room of the New; and it is through that Christ alone, crucified for me, that I have found forgiveness for sins and life eternal.  "The Old Testament is summed up in the word ‘Christ’; the New Testament is summed up in the word ‘Jesus’; and the summary of the whole Bible is that Jesus is the Christ" (Bishop Pollock). "I can never doubt," says Mr. Spurgeon, "the doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration; since I so constantly see, in actual practice, how the very words that God has been pleased to use - a plural instead of a singular - are blessed to the souls of men."