"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11: 1.
I want to call your attention to-night to the subject of Faith. I think I hear some of you say: "That is a very dull subject: if I had known that would be the subject, I would not have come." But it is a very important subject. It is faith that brings the blessing after all. Some one has said there are three things to faith—knowledge, assent, laying hold. Knowledge! A man may have a good deal of knowledge about Christ; but that does not save him. I suppose Noah's carpenters knew as much about the ark as Noah did, but they perished miserably nevertheless; because thev were not in the ark. A good many men know a good deal about Christ, but they are not saved by it; and our knowledge about Christ does not help us if we do not act upon it. But knowledge is very important. Knowledge, assent, then laying hold; and it is that last clause that saves, that brings the soul and Christ together. The best definition I can find of faith is,
the dependence upon the veracity of another. The Bible definition in the llth chapter of Hebrews is: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." In other words, faith says Amen to everything that God says. Faith takes God without any ifs. If God says it, faith says, I believe it; faith says Amen to it.
But now the question is, who shall we have faith in? A man got up in one of our young men's meetings the other night, and wanted to know why it was there were so many that backslid. One reason for backsliding, is because men are not sound in their faith; it is because they have not really been converted to God. A good many men are converted to a church; they say: "I like that church; it 13 a beautiful church, and there is beautiful singing; I like that quartet choir and the grand organ; and there is a good minister." And so they are converted to the church, and they are converted to the singing, and converted to the organ, and converted to the minister, or they are converted to the people who go there. They get into good society by going there. But that is not being born of God, or being converted to God. Once there was an old chap who sat down among some army soldiers who were telling stories of adventure, and one fellow got up and told all about how ne had backslid; but the old soldier said: "I think there is some mistake; and the truth of the matter is, you have never yet slid forward." Now if a man has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he has got something he can anchor to, and the anchor will hold; and when the hour of temptation comes to him, and the hoar of trial comes to him, the man will stand firm. If we are only converted to man, and our faith is in man, we will certainly be disappointed. How very often we hear a man say: "There is a member of the church who cheated me out of five dollars; and I am not going to have anything more to do with people who call themselves Christians." But if the man had had faith in Jesus Christ you do not suppose he would have had his faith shattered because some one cheated him out of five dollars, do you? What we want is, some one to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn to the prophecy of Jeremiah, 17th chapter, beginning with the 15th verse: "Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man thattrusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is." But cursed is the man that puts his trust in man; that is the reason why so many people are all the time being disappointed, and why there are so many that have their faith shaken. It is because they have been trusting in man, and man has failed them; and they have been trusting in themselves, and their hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, and we cannot have trust in ourselves; and because man hath failed us, or because we have failed ourselves, we think God will fail us. But if we put our trust in the God of Jacob, he will surely not fail us.
Faith is very important. You talk about financial panic—if business men lost faith among themselves, and in each other, how quickly all business would go to the wall! It is the foundation of society; it is the foundation of everything. Some people think, when we talk about faith in Christ, that it must be some miraculous faith, and that they have got to wait until it comes down out of heaven; that it is some shock which is to come upon them. But this faith in Christ is the same kind of faith that men have in one another. If a man has faith in the God of Jacob, God will never disappoint him. I never yet have seen a man whose faith God has disappointed, in all mr life. There are men who say it does not make any difference what a man believes if he is in earnest, if he is sincere in his belief. We often hear people ask: "You do not think it makes any difference what kind of a belief a man has, if he is only sincere in it, do you?" But, oh, my friends, I tell you it makes all the difference in the world whether a man believes a truth or a lie. If the devil can make you believe a lie, and that you are going to be saved because you are sincere in your belief in it, that is all he wants. Do not suppose for a moment that it does not make any difference what you beHere in, or what your faith is, so you are only sincere. Do not go over to that terrible illusion, which is one of the devil's lies. Once there were a couple of men arranging a balloon ascension. They thought they had two ropes fastened to the car, but one of them only was fastened; and they unfastened that one rope, and the balloon started to go up. One of the men seized hold of the car, and the other seized hold of the rope. Up went the balloon; and the man who seized hold of the car went up with it and was lost. The man who laid hold of the rope was just as sincere as the man who laid hold of the car. There was just as much reason to say that the man who laid hold of that would be saved, because he was sincere as the man who believed in a lie, because he is sincere in the belief. I like a man to be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him. Once 1 asked a man what he believed, and he said he believed what his church believed. I asked him what his church believed, and he said he supposed his church believed what he did; and that was all I could get out of him. And so men believe what other people believe, and what their church believes, without really knowing what the church and other people do believe.
Now,rwe must know distinctly in whom we believe. Jesus Christ tells us to have faith in God; and if we have faith in God, that it will carry us through all darkness, and storm, and affliction, and troubles, and trials. If our faith is in churches, and dogmas, and creeds, and men, and in this thing and that, we will come into trouble and difficulties before we get through our pilgrim's journey. But for him who has faith in God, the light will shine brighter and brighter, until he comes at last into the glory of the perfect day. Some people put their faith in a man. Some say: "There is such a minister; I have confidence in him, and in his Christianity." They pin their faith to a good man, and sometimes the good man deviates a little; and this friend who imitates him thinks that he need not be as perfect as the elder. He says: "If he can do it, I can do it;" and he deviates a little more, and a little more, until he is, at last, very far away from the moorings. If a teacher teaches a child writing, he teaches him to imitate the copy as closely as he possibly can. Abraham, andlsaac, and Jacob, and those heroic men that lived and moved as the heroes of olden times—there is a long line of them named in the llth chapter of Hebrews; but in the next chapter the writer takes the eye away from the contemplation of them, and says: "Look at Jesus." You need not look at Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, but look unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith. Look to him alone. Let us learn a lesson, that we are not to pin our faith to good men; we are not to have supreme faith in them. They cannot save us. We are to have confidence in them; but when it comes to the great question of salvation, we are to have faith in God, and God alone. You are not even to obey good men. We are to obey God, and him only. If God tells us to do a thing, we are to do it. If he tells us to believe a thing, we are to believe it; we are to have faith in God. Have faith in God; and if God tells you to believe a thing, believe it; and then you will have peace and confidence and joy. Now, we are to have faith. Christ says, "Have faith in God."
But I hear a great many people saying: "How am I going to get this faith? I would come to Christ; but I don't know how to get faith." It would take months and years to get that. Now, I was a long time getting faith. I was anxious to work for the Lord, but I wanted faith. I wanted to get faith; but I went about it the wrong way. I prayed for it, and did nothing else. That ain't the way to get faith; to pray for it, and neglect the Word of God. The way to get faith is to know who God is; and I never knew a man or woman that was well acquainted with God that wanted faith. Some one said to a Scotch woman, "You are a woman of great faith." "No," she says, "I am a woman of little faith; but I have got a great God." Now, would you iust turn a moment to the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John, and the 31st verse: "But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing
Je might have life through his name." Now the whole gospel of ohn was written for one purpose. John took up his pen and he wrote that gospel, that we might believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and that by believing we might have eternal life. And so, instead of praying for faith, and mourning because we haven't got faith, let us study the Word of God, and get acquainted with the
God of Israel; and then we will have faith in him. You can't find a man or woman that is acquainted with God, but that has strong faith in God. That is the reason these infidels won't trust him, because they don't know him. Now, would you turn to the 10th chapter of Romans, and the 17th verse: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."—" Faith coineth by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God!" Now, sinner, do you want to be saved to-night? Have faith in God! Take him at his word! Believe what he says! Believe the record God has given in his Son? I can imagine some of you saying: u I want to; but I have not got the right kind of faith."" What kind of faith do you want? Now, the idea that you want a different kind of faith is all wrong. Use the faith you have got. Just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ Not only that, you can't give any reason for not believing. If a man told me he couldn't believe me, I should have a right to ask him why he couldn't believe me. I should have a right to ask him if I had ever broken my word with him; and if I had not broken my word with him, he ought to believe me. I would like to ask you, Has God ever broke his word? Can you come forward and tell me our God has ever failed to keep his word? Never. My friends, he will keep his word.
I tell you, dear friend, it is the damning sin of the world to refuse to come through that one door; and there is a blight over the whole world just because man don't believe. It is all unbelief that has brought misfortune among us. It is the sin of the world. We have •iiined,—not because we have murdered, not because we have sworn, not because we have lied: God condemns the world because they believe not on him; that is the root of all evil. A man who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ won't murder and lie, and do all these awful things. Don't get caught on that terrible delusion that unbelief is a misfortune. Unbelief is not a misfortnne, but is the sin of the world. Christ found it on all sides of the world. When he first got up from the grave, he found that his disciples doubted. He had reason to cry out against unbelief. There was Thomas doubted, in fact, all the rest of the disciples; and it is what is keep• ing back God's blessing in the city of New York. I believe we would have a great revival here, and thousands of persons would be converted, if we only had faith in God. Now God is able to do great things, if we only believe in him. Let us have faith. Don't be looking to see if you have got the right kind of faith. Look and see if you have got the right kind of Christ. Now faith is just the hand that reaches out and gets the blessing. Faith sees a thing in God's hand; Faith says, I will have it. I see that book in Mr. Dodge's, hand; I go and take it; I have got faith that he will let me have tha book. Now, my friends, have faith in God to-night. Faith is an outward look, not an inward look. A great many people are look
ing at their feelings, a great many people are looking down here. Don't be looking at your feelings, but look at heaven; and if you have got the right kind of Christ, you will have the right kind of faith. Suppose a man had been in the habit of meeting a beggar on the street, and he might say: "I have met this man for years out here begging, and as I go up to-night I meet him; he has got a nice suit of clothes on, and I say to him, 'Hullo, beggar!' and he says, 'Don't you call me a beggar; I am no beggar.' 'Why, are you not a beggarV 'No sir, I am not a beggar.' 'What is the reason you are not a beggar P 'Why, 1 was sitting there to-day, and I put out my hand and asked a man to give me something, and Mr. Dodge came along and he put $5,000 right into my hand.' 'How do you know it is good money?' 'I took it to the bank.' 'How did you get it?' 'I put my hand out, aud he just put it in my hand.' 'How do you know it is the right kind of a hand?' 'Oh, poohl what do I care what kind of a hand it was!'"
And so we have only to reach out the hand of faith to-night and take God's Son. The gift of God is his Son, and this Son is eternal life. Do you want it? Take it. Who will have faith in him to-night? You must have a poor opinion of God if you won't trust him. 1 can imagine some people saying: "Oh, we have a great respect for God; but we have not got faith in him." How if your children should say: "Oh, we love papa so much; but we don't have faith in him"? You smile at that; and yet how many Christians talk in that way? Oh, this miserable, wretched unbelief I What grounds have we got for not believing God! Let us ask God to-night to take us from it. Let us put our whole confidence in God; and let us trust him now. If we don't believe him, John says we make him a liar; and that is what unbelief is. Many a man has been knocked down in the streets of New York for calling another a liar. Men take it as a great insult. It isn't very often that it is such a great insult. We very often tell that which is not true. When a man tells God he lies, is it true? The devil said God was a liar, and men rather believe him than believe God. God is truth. Let us trust him with all our hearts. Now, there is a verse here I would like to call your attention to—a brother spoke of it in the inquiry meeting to the inquirers—the 3d chapter of John and the 33d verse: "He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." "He that hath received his testimony—'his,' that is, God's testimony—hath set to his seal that God is true." In the old days men used to wear a ring, a signet ring, and instead of signing their names to a document they used to take that ring and sign that document; and so Christ uses that as an illustration. Now Christ says if you will set to your seal that God is true, he will believe it. You then set to your seal that God is true. Now, oh lay hold of that verse to-night—"He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." Who will indorse him? Who will believe? Faith says, I will. I will set to my seal that God is true. Isn't there some one here that will set to his seal that God is true? There will be joy in heaven to-night. Isn't there some one that will do it?
My little Willie I once told to jump off a high table and I would catcii him. But he looked down and said, "Papa, I'se afraid." I again told him I'd catch him, and he looked down and said, "Papa, I'se afraid." You smile; but that's just the way with the unbeliever. He looks down and dare not trust the Lord. You say that would be blind faith; but I say it wouldn't. I told Willie to look at me and then jump; and he did it and was delighted. He wanted to jump again, and finally his faith became so great that he would have jumped when I was eight or ten feet away and said, "Papa, I'se oomin'." I remember seeing a man in Mobile putting little boys on the fence posts, and they jumped into his arms with perfect confidence. But there was one large boy, nine or ten years old, who would not jump. I asked the man why it was, and he said the boy wasn't his. Ah, that's it! The boy wasn't his. He hadn't learned to trust him. But the other boys knew him and could trust him. Oh, sinner, will you not learn Christ to-night, and jump into the arms of a loving Savior? He'll keep you. Who will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to-night? Who will come to him and be saved?
Will you not take God at his word? Oh, may he give you atrength and faith to-night to trust him, as Job did!