The cleansing power of seeing the Unseen

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.”                                                                  Hebrews 11:1-2

 These died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”                                                                                                    Hebrews 11:13

The author of today’s encouragement comes from Thomas Manton (1620-1677), an English Puritan pastor, was also chaplain to Oliver Cromwell.  This is from Manton’s By Faith, Sermons on Hebrews 11.

We should have such a faith to substantiate our hopes and to check sensuality, for we find the corrupt heart of man is all for present satisfaction. Though the pleasures of sin are short and inconsiderable, yet, because they are near at hand, they have more influence than the joys of heaven, which are future and absent. We wonder at the folly of Esau to sell his birthright for a morsel of meat (Heb. 12:16). When lust is up and eager for fulfilment, all considerations of eternal glory and blessedness are laid aside to give it satisfaction. Many part with the joys of Christianity for the vilest price. A little pleasure, a little gain, a little happiness in the world, will make men part with all that is honest and sacred. A man would wonder at their folly, but the great reason is, they live by sense: ‘For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me’ (2 Tim. 4:10). Here lies the bait, these things are present; we can taste the delights of the world, and feel the pleasures of the flesh, but the happiness of the world to come is unseen and unknown. ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’ (1 Cor. 15:32). This is the language of every carnal heart. Present advantages and vanities, though they are small and but trifles, have more power to pervert us than good things at a distance, and the promises of God, even, to allure and draw our hearts to God. Here lies the root and strength of all temptations; the inconveniences of strictness in religion are present, and they may have present distaste and present trouble to the flesh, and our rewards are yet future. So, how can we check this living by sense? Why, faith, substantiating our hopes, provides a remedy. Faith makes things to become as real as if they were already enjoyed. Where faith is alive and strong, and is ‘the conviction of things not seen’, it baffles and defeats all temptations.

Edited by Richard Rushing, p. 23 of “Voices from the Past.”

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