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I have sometimes wondered why these ancient saints should be set forth with the encomiums of being God's friends, walking with Him, obtaining witness that they were righteous, obtaining promises, obtaining good report, as strangers and pilgrims upon earth, of whom the world was not worthy, seeking an heavenly country, and a city that hath foundations, despising all worldly pleasure, self, and honor, leaving their own house, home, and country, without any desire to return thither; and why we should be commended to go forth by the footsteps of this flock, and be said to be compassed about with this cloud of witnesses, and be directed to follow those who through faith and practice now inherit the promises; when we know that if they were on earth, in this refined age, they would be ranked among the worst of Antinomians.
It is strange that the believer is not commanded to look to Moses the law giver, and to the bondwoman that is under the law, instead of looking to Abraham our father, and to Sarah that bare us, whom God called alone, and blessed and increased. (Isaiah 51:2). Paul would have us tread in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham, the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to him, or to his seed, through the law, Rom. 4:12,13; and yet affirms, that as many as are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. And this promised blessing, and promised heirship, was given to Abraham, and to his seed, four hundred and thirty years before the law, or before our only rule of life was given.
What rule had those glorious pilgrims to walk by, who obtained so good a report, or so good a testimony from God? Paul tells us that Abel offered to God, and obtained witness that he was righteous by faith; then faith was his rule of walk; and Noah condemned the world by faith; then faith was his rule of judgment. "By faith Abraham, when he was called, went out not knowing whither he went," then faith was his rule, by which he took his journey, though he knew not whither, and his obedience was the obedience of faith. But if he had been favored with our only rule of life, he might have known whither he was going, and not have gone in ignorance, and his obedience would have been the obedience of the law instead of faith.
But Paul will have it that all Abraham's children are in the same
strait that their father was, for they walk by faith, not by sight. But if the letter of
the law be the only rule that the believer is to walk and live by, then he walks by sight, not
by faith; he looks at the things that are seen, not at the things that are not seen. If it is by
faith that Moses saw Him who is invisible, then by faith we must look
at the things that are not seen, which are eternal.