(Calvin, Paul to the Hebrews. Part 15) no doubt religion would not have so prevailed among all nations, had not men's minds been impressed with the convictions that God is the Creator of the world. It thus then appears that this knowledge which the Apostle ascribes to faith, exists without faith. To this I reply, - that though there has been an opinion of this kind among heathens, that the world was made by God, it was yet very evanescent, for as soon as they formed a notion of some God, they became instantly vain in their imaginations, so that they groped in the dark, having in their thoughts a mere shadow of some uncertain deity, and not the knowledge of the true God. Besides, as it was only a transient opinion that flit in their minds, it was far from being anything like knowledge. We may further add, that they assigned to fortune or chance the supremacy in the government of the world, and they made no mention of God's providence which alone rules everything. Men's minds therefore are wholly blind, so that they see not the light of nature which shines forth in created things, until being irradiated by God's Spirit, they begin to understand by faith what otherwise they cannot comprehend. Hence most correctly does the Apostle ascribe such an understanding to faith; for they who have faith do not entertain a slight opinion as to God being the Creator of the world, but they have a deep conviction fixed in their minds and behold the true God. And further, they understand the power of his word, not only as manifested instantaneously in creating the world, but also as put forth continually in its preservation; nor is it his power only that they understand, but also his goodness, and wisdom, and justice. And hence they are led to worship, love, and honour him. "Not made of things which do appear". As to this clause, all interpreters seem to me to have been mistaken; and the mistake has arisen from separating the preposition from the participle |fainomenoon|. They give this rendering, "So that visible things were made from things which do not appear." But from such words hardly any sense can be elicited, at least a very jejune sense; and further, the text does not admit of such a meaning, for then the words must have been, |ek me fainomenoon|: but the order adopted by the Apostle is different. If, then, the words were rendered literally, the meaning would be as follows, - "So that they became the visible of things not visible," or, not apparent. Thus the preposition would be joined to the participle to which it belongs. Besides, the words would then contain a very important truth, - that we have in this visible world, a conspicuous image of God; and thus the same truth is taught here, as in Rom. 1: 20, where it is said, that the invisible things of God are made known to us by the creation of the world, they being seen in his works. God has given us, throughout the whole framework of this world, clear evidences of his eternal wisdom, goodness, and power; and though he is in himself invisible, he in a manner becomes visible to us in his works. Correctly then is this world called the mirror of divinity; not that there is sufficient clearness for man to gain a full knowledge of God, by looking at the world, but that he has thus so far revealed himself, that the ignorance of the ungodly is without excuse. Now the faithful, to whom he has given eyes, see sparks of his glory, as it were, glittering in every created thing. The world was no doubt made, that it might be the theatre of the divine glory. =====> 11:4. "By faith Abel offered", &c. The Apostle's object in this chapter is to show, that however excellent were the works of the saints, it was from faith they derived their value, their worthiness, and all their excellences; and hence follows what he has already intimated, that the fathers pleased God by faith alone. Now he commends faith here on two accounts, - it renders obedience to God, for it attempts and undertakes nothing, but what is according to the rule of God's word, - and it relies on God's promises, and thus it gains the value and worth which belongs to works from his grace alone. Hence, wherever the word faith is found in this chapter, we must bear in mind, that the Apostle speaks of it, in order that the Jews might regard no other rule than God's word, and might also depend alone on his promises. He says, first, that Abel's "sacrifice" was for no other reason preferable to that of his brother, except that it was sanctified by faith: for surely the fat of brute animals did not smell so sweetly, that it could, by its odour, pacify God. The Scripture indeed shows plainly, why God accepted his sacrifice, for Moses's words are these, "God had respect to Abel, and to his gifts." It is hence obvious to conclude, that his sacrifice was accepted, because he himself was graciously accepted. But how did he obtain this favour, except that his heart was purified by faith. "God testifying", &c. He confirms what I have already stated, that no works, coming from us can please God, until we ourselves are received into favour, or to speak more briefy, that no works are deemed just before God, but those of a just man: for he reasons thus, - God bore a testimony to Abel's gifts; then he had obtained the praise of being just before God. This doctrine is useful, and ought especially to be noticed, as we are not easily convinced of its truth; for when in any work, anything splendid appears, we are immediately rapt in admiration, and we think that it cannot possibly be disapproved of by God: but God, who regards only the inward purity of the heart, heeds not the outward masks of works. Let us then learn, that no right or good work can proceed from us, until we are justified before God. "By it he being dead", &c. To faith he also ascribes this, - that God testified that Abel was no less the object of his care after his death, than during his life: for when he says, that though dead, he still speaketh, he means, as Moses tells us, that God was moved by his violent death to take vengeance. When, therefore, Abel or his blood is said to speak, the words are to be understood figuratively. It was yet a singular evidence of God's love towards him, that he had a care for him when he was dead; and it hence appears, that he was one of God's saints, whose death is precious to him. =====> 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. =====> 11:5. "By faith Enoch", &c. He chose a few of the most ancient, that he might make a transition to Abraham and his posterity. He teaches us that through faith, it was that Enoch was translated. But we ought especially to consider the reason why God in so unusual a manner removed him from the earth. The event was remarkable, and hence all may know how dear he was to God. Impiety and all kinds of corruptions then prevailed everywhere. Had he died as other men, it would have not occurred to any, that he was thus preserved from the prevailing contagion by God's providence; but, as he was taken away without dying, the hand of God from heaven, removing him as it were from the fire, was openly manifested. It was not to then an ordinary honour with which God had favoured him. Moses indeed tells us, that he was a righteous man, and that he walked with God; but as righteousness begins with faith, it is justly ascribed to his faith, that he pleased God. As to the subtle questions which the curious usually moot, it is better to pass them over, without taking much notice of them. They ask, what became of these two men, Enoch and Elijah? And then, that they may not appear merely to ask questions, they imagine that they are reserved for the last days of the Church, that they may then come forth into the world; and for this purpose the Revelation of John is referred to. Let us leave this airy philosophy to those light and vain minds, which cannot be satisfied with what is solid. Let it suffice us to know, that their translation was a sort of extraordinary death; nor let us doubt but that they were divested of their mortal and corruptible flesh, in order that they might, with the other members of Christ, be renewed into a blessed immortality. =====> 11:6. "But without faith", &c. What is said here belongs to all the examples which the Apostle records in this chapter; but as there is in the passage some measure of obscurity, it is necessary to examine its meaning more closely. But there is no better interpreter than the Apostle himself. The proof, then, which he immediately subjoins, may serve as an explanation. The reason he assigns why no one can please God without faith, is this, - because no one will ever come to God, except he believes that God is, and is also convinced that he is a remunerator to all who seek him. If access then to God is not opened, but by faith, it follows, that all who are without it, are the objects of God's displeasure. Hence the Apostle shows how faith obtains favour for us, even because faith is our teacher as to the true worship of God, and makes us certain as to his goodwill, so that we may not think that we seek him in vain. These two clauses ought not to be slightly passed over, - that we must believe that God is, and that we ought to feel assured that he is not sought in vain. It does not indeed seem a great matter, when the Apostle requires us to believe that God is; but when you more closely consider it, you will find that there is here a rich, profound, and sublime truth; for though almost all admit without disputing that God is, yet it is evident, that except the Lord retains us in the true and certain knowledge of himself, various doubts will ever creep in, and obliterate every thought of a Divine Being. To this vanity the disposition of man is no doubt prone, so that to forget God becomes an easy thing. At the same time the Apostle does not mean, that men ought to feel assured that there is some God, for he speaks only of the true God; nay, it will not be sufficient for you to form a notion of any God you please; but you must understand what sort of Being the true God is; for what will it profit us to devise and term an idol, and to ascribe to it the glory due to God? We now then perceive what the Apostle means in the first clause; he denies that we can have an access to God, except we have the truth, that God is deeply fixed in our hearts, so as not to be led here and there by various opinions. It is hence evident, that men in vain weary themselves in serving God, except they observe the right way, and that all religions are not only vain, but also pernicious, with which the true and certain knowledge of God is not connected; for all are prohibited from having any access to God, who do not distinguish and separate him from all idols; in short, there is no religion except where this truth reigns dominant. But if the true knowledge of God has its seat in our hearts it will not fail to lead us to honour and fear him; for Gods without his majesty is not really known. Hence arises the desire to serve him, hence it comes that the whole life is so formed, that he is regarded as the end in all things The second clause is that we ought to be fully persuaded that God is not sought in vain; and this persuasion includes the hope of salvation and eternal life, for no one will be in a suitable state of heart to seek God except a sense of the divine goodness be deeply felt, so as to look for salvation from him. We indeed flee from God, or wholly disregard him, when there is no hope of salvation. But let us bear in mind, that this is what must be really believed, and not held merely as a matter of opinions; for even the ungodly may sometimes entertain such a notion, and yet they do not come to God; and for this reason, because they have not a firm and fixed faith. This then is the other part of faith by which we obtain favour with God, even when we feel assured that salvation is laid up for us in him. But many shamefully pervert this clause; for they hence elicit the merits of works, and the conceit about deserving. And they reason thus: "We please God by faith, because we believe him to be a rewarder; then faith has respect to the merits of works." This error cannot be better exposed, than by considering how God is to be sought; while any one is wandering from the right way of seeking him, he cannot be said to be engaged in the work. Now Scripture assigns this as the right way, - that a man, prostrate in himself, and smitten with the conviction that he deserves eternal death, and in self-despair, is to flee to Christ as the only asylum for salvation. Nowhere certainly can we find that we are to bring to God any merits of works to put us in a state of favour with him. Then he who understands that this is the only right way of seeking God, will be freed from every difficulty on the subject; for reward refers not to the worthiness or value of works but to faith. Thus, these frigid glosses of the Sophists, such as, "by faith we please God, for we deserve when we intend to please," fall wholly to the ground. The Apostle's object was to carry us much higher, even that conscience might feel assured that it is not a vain thing to seek God; and this certainty or assurance far exceeds what we can of ourselves attain, especially when any one considers his ownself. For it is not to be laid down as an abstract principle, that God is a rewarder to those who seek him; but every one of us ought individually to apply this doctrine to himself, so that we may know that we are regarded by God, that he has such a care for our salvation as never to be wanting to us, that our prayers are heard by him, that he will be to us a perpetual deliverer. But as none of these things come to us except through Christ, our faith must ever regard him and cleave to him alone. From these two clauses, we may learn how, and why it is impossible for man to please God without faith; God justly regards us all as objects of his displeasure, as we are all by nature under his curse; and we have no remedy in our own power. It is hence necessary that God should anticipate us by his grace; and hence it comes, that we are brought to know that God is, and in such a way that no corrupt superstition can seduce us, and also that we become assured of a certain salvation from him. Were any one to desire a fuller view of this subject, he should make his commencement here, - that we in vain attempt to try anything, except we look to God; for the only true end of life is to promote his glory; but this can never be done, unless there be first the true knowledge of him. Yet this is still but the half of faith, and will profit us but little, except confidence be added. Hence faith will only then be complete and secure us God's favour, when we shall feel a confidence that we shall not seek him in vain, and thus entertain the certainty of obtaining salvation from him. But no one, except he be blinded by presumption, and fascinated by self-love, can feel assured that God will be a rewarder of his merits. Hence this confidence of which we speak recumbs not on works, nor on man's own worthiness, but on the grace of God alone; and as grace is nowhere found but in Christ, it is on him alone that faith ought to be fixed. =====> 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. =====> 11:7. "By faith Noah", &c. It was a wonderful example of magnanimity, that when the whole world were promising themselves impunity, and securely and unrestrainedly indulging themselves in sinful pleasures, Noah alone paid regard to Gods vengeance though deferred for a considerable time, - that he greatly wearied himself for a hundred and twenty years in building the ark, - that he stood unshaken amidst the scoffs of so many ungodly men, - that he entertained no doubt but that he would be safe in the midst of the ruin of the whole world, - yea, that he felt sure of life as it were in the grave, even in the ark. It is briefly that I shall touch on the subject; each one can better for himself weigh all the circumstances. The Apostle ascribes to faith the praise of so remarkable a fortitude. He has been hitherto speaking of the fathers who lived in the first age of the world; but it was a kind of regeneration when Noah and his family emerged from the deluge. It is hence evident that in all ages men have neither been approved by God, nor performed anything worthy of praise otherwise than by faith. Let us now then see what are the things he presents to our consideration in the case of Noah. They are the following, - that having been warned of things to come, but not yet made visible, he feared, - that he built an ark, - that he condemned the world by building it, - and that he became the heir of that righteousness which is faith. What I have just mentioned is that which especially sets forth the power of faith; for the Apostle ever reminds us of this truth, that faith is the evidence of things not seen; and doubtless it is its peculiar office to behold in God's word the things which are hid, and far removed from our senses. When it was declared to Noah that there would be a deluge after one hundred and twenty years, first, the length of time might have removed every fear; secondly, the thing in itself seemed incredible; thirdly, he saw the ungodly heedlessly indulging in sinful pleasures; and lastly, the terrible announcement of a deluge might have appeared to him as intended only to terrify men. But Noah attended so much to God's word, that turning away his eyes from the appearance of things at that time, he feared the destruction which God had threatened, as though it was present. Hence the faith which he had in God's word prepared him to render obedience to God; and of this he afterwards gave a proof by building the ark. But here a question is raised. Why does the Apostle make faith the cause of fear, since it has respect to promises of grace rather than to threatening? For Paul for this reason calls the Gospel, in which God's righteousness is offered to us for salvation, the word of faith. It seems then to have been improperly stated, that Noah was by faith led to fear. To this, I reply, that faith indeed properly springs from promises; it is founded on them, it rests on them. We hence say that Christ is the real object of faith, for through him our heavenly Father is reconciled to us, and by him all the promises of salvation are sealed and confirmed. Yet there is no reason why faith should not look to God and reverently receive whatever he may say; or if you prefer another way of stating the subject, it rightly belongs to faith to hear God whenever he speaks, and unhesitatingly to embrace whatsoever may proceed from his sacred mouth. Thus far it has regard to commands and threatening, as well as to gratuitous promises. But as no man is moved as he ought and as much as is needful, to obey God's commands, nor is sufficiently stirred up to deprecate his wrath, unless he has already laid hold on the promises of grace, so as to acknowledge him as a kind Father, and the author of salvation, - hence the Gospel is called the word of faith, the principal part being stated for the whole; and thus is set forth the mutual relation that there is between them both. Faith, then, though its most direct regard is to God's promises, yet looks on his threatening so far as it is necessary for it to be taught to fear and obey God. "Prepared an ark", &c. Here is pointed out that obedience which flows from faith as water from a fountain. The work of building the ark was long and labourious. It might have been haltered by the scoffs of the ungodly, and thus suspended a thousand times; nor is there a doubt but they mocked and derided the holy man on every side. That he then bore their wanton insults with an unshaken spirit, is a proof that his resolution to obey was not of an ordinary kind. But how was it that he so perseveringly obeyed God except that he had previously rested on the promise which gave him the hope of deliverance; and in this confidence he persevered even to the last; for he could not have had the courage willingly to undergo so many toils, nor could he have been able to overcome so many obstacles, nor could he have stood so firm in his purpose for so long a time, had he not beforehand possessed this confidence. It hence appears that faith alone is the teacher of obedience; and we may on the contrary draw this conclusion, that it is unbelief that prevents us to obey God. And at this day the unbelief of the world exhibits itself dreadfully in this way, for there are a very few who obey God. "By the which he condemned the world", &c. It were strange to say that Noah's deliverance condemned the world, and the context will hardly allow faith to be meant; we must then understand this of the ark. And he is said on two accounts to have by the ark condemned the world; for by being so long occupied in building it, he took away every excuse from the wicked; - and the event which followed proved how just was the destruction of the world; for why was the ark made the means of deliverance to one family, except that the Lord thus spared a righteous man that he should not perish with the ungodly. Had he then not been preserved, the condemnation of the world would not have been so apparent. Noah then by obeying God's command condemned by his example the obstinate disobedience of the world: his wonderful deliverance from the midst of death, was an evidence that the world justly perished; for God would have doubtless saved it, had it not been unworthy of salvation "Of the righteousness which is by faith". This is the last thing in the character of Noah, which the Apostle reminds us to observe. Moses records that he was a righteous man: history does not expressly say that the cause and root of his righteousness was faith, but the Apostle declares that as arising from the facts of the case. And this is not only true, because no one ever devotes himself really and sincerely to God's service, but he who relies on the promises of his paternal kindness, and feels assured that his life is approved by him; but also on this account, because the life of no one, however holy it may be, when tried by the rule of God's law, can please him without pardon being granted. Then righteousness must necessarily recumb on faith. =====> 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God. 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, [so many] as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. =====> 11:8. "By faith Abraham", &c. He comes now to Abraham, who is the chief father of God's church on earth, and in whose name the Jews gloried, as though by the distinction of being the holy race of Abraham alone, they were removed from the common order of men. But he now reminds them of what they ought to possess as the main thing, that they might be counted among his children. He therefore calls their attention to faith, for Abraham himself had no excellency which did not proceed from faith. He first teaches us that faith was the cause why he immediately obeyed God when he was commanded to remove from his own country; and then that through the same faith it was that he went on without wavering, according to what he was called to do even to the end. By these two things, - his promptness in obeying, and his perseverance, was Abraham's faith most clearly proved. "When he was called", &c. The old Latin translator and Erasmus apply this to his name, which is extremely tame and frigid. On the contrary, I refer it to the oracle by which he was called from his own country. He indeed did in this way undergo a voluntary exile, while yet he did nothing but by God's command; and no doubt it is one of the chief things which belong to faith, not to move a step except God's word shows us the way, and as a lantern gives us light, according to what David says. (Psalm 110: 105.) Let us then learn that it is a thing to be observed through life, that we are to undertake nothing to which God does not call us. "To go out into a place", &c. To the command was added a promise, that God would give him a land for an inheritance. This promise he immediately embraced, and hastened as though he was sent to take possession of this land. It is a no ordinary trial of faith to give up what we have in hand, in order to seek what is afar off, and unknown to us. For when God commanded him to leave his own country, he did not point out the place where he intended him to live, but left him in suspense and perplexity of mind: "go", he said, "into the place that I will show thee." (Gen. 12: 1.) Why did he defer to point out the pla˘e, except that his faith might be more and more exercised? Besides, the love of his native land might not only have retarded the alacrity of Abraham, but also held him so bound to it, so as not to quit his home. His faith then was not of an ordinary kind, which thus broke through all hindrances and carried him where the Lord called him to go. =====> 11:9. "By faith he sojourned", &c. The second particular is, that having entered into the land, he was hardly received as a stranger and a sojourner. Where was the inheritance which he had expected? It might have indeed occurred instantly to his mind, that he had been deceived by God. Still greater was the disappointment, which the Apostle does not mention, when shortly after a famine drove him from the country, when he was compelled to flee to the land of Gerar; but the Apostle considered it enough to say, as a commendation to his faith, that he became a sojourner in the land of promise; for to be a sojourner seemed contrary to what had been promised. That Abraham then courageously sustained this trial was an instance of great fortitude; but it proceeded from faith alone. "With Isaac and Jacob", &c. He does not mean that they dwelt in the same tent, or lived at the same time; but he makes Abraham's son and grandson his companions, because they sojourned alike in the inheritance promised to them, and yet failed not in their faith, however long it was that God delayed the time; for the longer the delay the greater was the trial; but by setting up the shield of faith they repelled all the assaults of doubt and unbelief. =====> 11:10. "For he looked for", &c. He gives a reason why he ascribes their patience to faith, even because they looked forward to heaven. This was indeed to see things invisible. It was no doubt a great thing to cherish in their hearts the assurance given them by God respecting the possession of the land until it was after some ages realized; yet as they did not confine their thoughts, no, not to that land, but penetrated even into heaven, it was still a clearer evidence of their faith. He calls heaven a "city that has foundations", because of its perpetuity; for in the world there is nothing but what is transitory and fading. It may indeed appear strange that he makes God the Maker of heavens as though he did not also create the earth; to this I answer, that as in earthly buildings, the hands of men make use of materials, the workmanship of God is not unfitly set in opposition to them. Now, whatever is formed by men is like its authors in instability; so also is the perpetuity of the heavenly life, it corresponds with the nature of God its founder. Moreover, the Apostle teaches us that all weariness is relieved by expectation, so that we ought never to be weary in following God. =====> 11:11. "Through faith also, Sarah herself", &c. That women may know that this truth belongs to them as well as to men, he adduces the example of Sarah; which he mentions in preference to that of others, because she was the mother of all the faithful. But it may seem strange that her faith is commended, who was openly charged with unbelief; for she laughed at the word of the angel as though it were a fable; and it was not the laugh of wonder and admiration, for otherwise she would not have been so severely reproved by the angel. It must indeed be confessed, that her faith was blended with unbelief; but as she cast aside her unbelief when reproved, her faith is acknowledged by God and commended. What then she rejected at first as being incredible, she afterwards as soon as she heard that it came from God, obediently received. And hence we deduce a useful doctrine, - that when our faith in some things wavers or halts, it ceases not to be approved of God, provided we indulge not the spirit of unbelief. The meaning then is, that the miracle which God performed when Isaac was born, was the fruit of the faith of Abraham, and of his wife, by which they laid hold on the power of God. "Because she judged him faithful", &c. These reasons, by which the power and character of faith are set forth, ought to be carefully noticed. Were any one only to hear that Sarah brought forth a child through faith, all that is meant would not be conveyed to him, but the explanation which the Apostle adds removes every obscurity; for he declares that Sarah's faith was this, - that she counted God to be true to his word, that is, to what he had promised. There are two clauses to this declaration; for we hence learn first, that there is no faith without God's word, for of his faithfulness we cannot be convinced, until he has spoken. And this of itself is abundantly sufficient to confute the fiction of the sophists respecting implicit faith; for we must ever hold that there is a mutual relation between God's word and our faith. But as faith is founded chiefly, according to what has been already said, on the benevolence or kindness of God, it is not every word, though coming from his mouth, that is sufficient; but a promise is necessary as an evidence of his favour. Hence Sarah is said to have counted God faithful who had promised. True faith then is that which hears God speaking and rests on his promise. =====> 11:12. "Therefore sprang there even of one", &c. He now also reminds the Jews, that it was by faith that they were the descendants of Abraham; for he was as it were half dead, and Sarah his wife, who had been barren in the flower of her age, was now sterile, being far advanced in years. Sooner then might oil be expected to flow from a stone, than a nation to proceed from them: and yet there sprang from them an innumerable multitude. If now the Jews are proud of their origin, let them consider what it was. Whatever they are, everything is doubtless to be ascribed to the faith of Abraham and Sarah. It hence follows, that they cannot retain and defend the position they have acquired in any other way than by faith. =====> 11:13 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. 11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 11:16 But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. =====> 11:13. "These all died in faith", &c. He enhances by a comparison the faith of the patriarchs: for when they had only tasted of the promises, as though fully satisfied with their sweetness, they despised all that was in the world; and they never forgot the taste of them, however small it was either in life or in death. At the same time the expression "in faith", is differently explained. Some understand simply this that they died in faith, because in this life they never enjoyed the promised blessings, as at this day also salvation is hid from us, being hoped for. But I rather assent to those who think that there is expressed here a difference between us and the fathers; and I give this explanation, - "Though God gave to the fathers only a taste of that grace which is largely poured on us, though he showed to them at a distance only an obscure representation of Christ, who is now set forth to us clearly before our eyes, yet they were satisfied and never fell away from their faith: how much greater reason then have we at this day to persevere? If we grow faint, we are doubly inexcusable". It is then an enhancing circumstance, that the fathers had a distant view of the spiritual kingdom of Christ, while we at this day have so near a view of it, and that they hailed the promises afar off, while we have them as it were quite near us; for if they nevertheless persevered even unto death, what sloth will it be to become wearied in faith, when the Lord sustains us by so many helps. Were any one to object and say, that they could not have believed without receiving the promises on which faith is necessarily founded: to this the answer is, that the expression is to be understood comparatively; for they were far from that high position to which God has raised us. Hence it is that though they had the same salvation promised them, yet they had not the promises so clearly revealed to them as they are to us under the kingdom of Christ; but they were content to behold them afar off. "And confessed that they were strangers", &c. This confession was made by Jacob, when he answered Pharaoh, that the time of his pilgrimage was short compared with that of his fathers, and full of many sorrows. (Gen. 47: 9.) Since Jacob confessed himself a pilgrim in the land, which had been promised to him as a perpetual inheritance, it is quite evident that his mind was by no means fixed on this world, but that he raised it up above the heavens. Hence the Apostle concludes, that the fathers, by speaking thus, openly showed that they had a better country in heaven; for as they were pilgrims here, they had a country and an abiding habitation elsewhere. But if they in spirit amid dark clouds, took a flight into the celestial country, what ought we to do at this day? For Christ stretches forth his hand to us, as it were openly, from heaven, to raise us up to himself. If the land of Canaan did not engross their attention, how much more weaned from things below ought we to be, who have no promised habitation in this world? =====> 11:15. "And truly if they had been mindful", &c. He anticipates an objection that might have been made, - that they were strangers because they had left their own country. The apostle meets this objection, and says, that though they called themselves strangers, they yet did not think of Mesopotamia; for if they had a desire to return, their might . 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