by William Perkins
in ePub, .mobi & .pdf formats
A CLOUD OF HEAVENLY WITNESSES LEADING TO THE HEAVENLY CANAAN
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.
Concerning faith, two points are necessary to be known of every Christian: the doctrine and the practice of it. The whole doctrine of faith (being grounded and gathered out of the Word of God) is comprised in the Creed, commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, which being already by us expounded, it followeth in order (next after the doctrine) to lay down also the practice of faith: for which purpose we have chosen this eleventh chapter to the Hebrews as being a portion of scripture wherein the said practice of faith is most excellently and at large set down.
This chapter depends on the former thus: We may read in the former chapter that many Jews, having received the faith and given their names to Christ, did afterward fall away; therefore towards the end of the chapter there is added a notable exhortation tending to persuade the Hebrews to persevere in faith unto the end, as also to suffer patiently whatever shall befall them in the profession of it. And to urge the exhortation, there are divers reasons, not needful to be alleged, for they concern not the present purpose.
Now, in this chapter, he continues the same exhortation; and the whole chapter (as I take it) is nothing else in substance but one reason to urge the former exhortation to perseverance in faith; and the reason is drawn from the excellency of faith: for this chapter doth divers ways set down what an excellent gift of God faith is. His whole scope therefore is manifest to be nothing else but to urge them to persevere and continue in that faith, proved at large to be so excellent a thing; and indeed he could not bring a better argument to move them to love and hold fast their faith, than by persuading them of the excellency of it. For common reason bids us not only choose, but hold fast that that is excellent.
Out of this coherence, we may learn, in a word, that perseverance in faith is a matter not of ordinary necessity, nor of mean excellency, to the urging whereof the author of this epistle useth so large and so forcible an exhortation insomuch as, whereas ordinary exhortations occupy the room of one or some few verses, this is continued through divers chapters.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
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.
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.
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.
14. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 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.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us