The Signs of the Times


March 18, 1889

The Substance of Things Hoped For

[Morning talk at South Lancaster, Mass., January 18, 1889.]


The word of the Lord declares that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” We desire that everyone should be in a position where he can believe the word of God. How should I feel if my children should be constantly complaining to me, just as though I did not mean well, when my whole life's efforts have been to forward their interests and to give them comfort? Suppose they should doubt my love; my heart would break. I couldn't endure it. How would any of you feel to be thus treated by your children? How can our heavenly Father regard us when we doubt his love, that has led him to give his only begotten Son that we might have life? The apostle writes, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” And yet we stand back, distrustful and suspicious, saying, “Well, he doesn't mean this for me. Perhaps he loves others, but he does not love me.” ST March 18, 1889, par. 1

Why is it so difficult for you to believe in God?—It is because you have been educating your soul in doubt and unbelief all your life long. It makes my heart ache to hear your mournful testimonies, stating that your whole life has been a failure. Have there not been some bright spots in your experience? Have you not had some precious seasons when your heart throbbed in response to the Spirit of God? Dear brethren, for Christ's sake cherish every ray of light, every token of mercy and good, every blessing that God has bestowed upon you. Although you see that you have not given glory to God, that you have not been grateful, let that not be a reason why you should be ungrateful still, and sink down into despondency and discouragement. Have you not praised God in the past when the warm rays of his love fell upon your heart? Have you not sought to do his will as an obedient child? When you look back into the chapters of your experience, do you not find some pleasant pages? Is memory's hall filled only with pictures of neglect and sorrow? Are there only dark, forbidding, and unhappy representations there? Are there not some pleasant pictures, where you can see the providence of God? Confess your ingratitude of the past; but retain every pleasing memory, and every token of God's love that he has given to bind your heart to his great heart of infinite love. Oh, praise him! Let us educate ourselves to speak the language of faith. If Satan has cast his dark shadow across your path, look up in faith, and God will let his light shine upon you and dispel the darkness. Satan would like to have you cherish that shadow. He would like to have you view God through a cloud of his own making; but we are to be in a position of faith and confidence in God, where we can cherish every bright beam of light; having seen a token of God's love, we are to say, “Here is an evidence that God is blessing me. I cherish this as a manifestation of his favor. I will gather up the precious jewels of his truth.” If you do this, you will be full of light. If you have been in the shadow, confess your unbelief, and then claim the promises of God by living faith, and come into the light of your Saviour. ST March 18, 1889, par. 2

You are not to trust simply in pleasant emotions. Suppose that after you have been filled with joy, you should rise in the morning under a cloud, with the same train of shadowy thoughts as have troubled you in the past. Would that be an evidence that God had left you during the night? Not at all. It would simply be an evidence that your mind has so long been trained in the line of unbelief, that it is from force of habit running in the doubting channel. Dwell on the faith side of the question. Educate your thoughts in the line of God's mercy. Educate your tongue to speak of his goodness. Train the whole mind and soul to act in faith. It is praising Satan when you talk so continuously of your doubts and darkness. You are glorifying the prince of darkness when you give up your thoughts and words to follow in the shadow he casts on your pathway. Let your first morning thought be, “How good is the Lord! He is full of goodness and tender mercy.” Praise him. Say, “Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” When the darkness of the enemy begins to sweep over you, say, “I do love the Lord. I know that I love him, and I know that the Lord loves me, even me.” ST March 18, 1889, par. 3

A good way to disperse darkness is to talk faith and courage. We are admonished in the word of God to fight the good fight of faith. Suppose that you take your stand under the banner of faith. If you have repented of your sins, and have confessed them to God, you need no longer go on in doubt and despondency. God does not want you to stand under a cloud. He wants you to come into the light, and to have confidence in him, knowing that you have committed your soul unto his keeping, as unto a faithful Creator. ST March 18, 1889, par. 4

Satan will come to you after you have trusted in God, and will try to steal away the victory that faith has gained. He will present your sins to you; but can you not tell him it is written, “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin”? Can you not tell him that God has promised to remove your transgressions away from you as far as the east is from the west, and that they are to be remembered no more? ST March 18, 1889, par. 5

I see the necessity every day and every hour of exercising living faith. What is faith? It is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” There is a wonderful power in faith. It brings eternal things to view, and lays hold of the arm of infinite power. If you have been educating your soul to gather up the dark chapters in your experience, turn over a new leaf and have a new, bright, cheerful experience; put your will wholly on the Lord's side. We must exercise living faith if we would war successfully against the temptations of the enemy. ST March 18, 1889, par. 6

There are on the walls of this house two mottoes, “Praise the Lord,” and, “Thy word is truth.” These are good and pleasant words. Suppose that you hang your memory's hall all full of the remembrances of God's goodness, grace, and truth, and let not one dark thought or shadow have a place in that hall. We are not to be so selfish as to simply desire a flight of happy emotions. We are to fix our faith on the promises of God, which are sure and steadfast, and shall endure forever and ever. The joyful feeling will come when we fully trust in God's promises. Jesus has said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden.” This invitation is certainly for those who are burdened with unbelief; and his assurance is, “Ye shall find rest unto your souls.” It is not, “May be you shall find rest.” Oh, no; it is positive and certain: “Ye shall find rest.” Why do we misinterpret our heavenly Father when he says “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Take his yoke upon you, and he will bear the heaviest part himself. Is he not good company? do you object to association with him? He says, “I am at thy right hand to help you,” “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ST March 18, 1889, par. 7

Why not make up your mind that you will stand in your God-given manhood and womanhood, and, through Christ, be overcomers? Why not say, “God has promised the power, and I will win back the moral image of my Creator and Redeemer”? Do not allow the mind to hold communion with the enemy. Do not talk of his power to discourage you. Talk of Christ, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him. We have a whole Saviour, and let us have a whole faith in him who has died for the sins of men, and for my sins. When we take this position, we shall find rest and peace in our Saviour. Come with your burdens, and lay them down at the foot of the cross, put off the yoke of self and sin, and wear the yoke of Him who is meek and lowly of heart. Let every soul come to the fountain, and drink of the waters of life, that will be in him like a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. ST March 18, 1889, par. 8

When I talk of the subject of faith, my faith grows. I feel as though I could run through the troops of darkness, and rise above all barriers. It seems as though nothing could hinder me. By living faith, I grasp the hand of Jesus, and I am all light in the Lord. I do not look at self, I look to Jesus, my high priest, who presents my case to the Father, offering up the merits of his life and sacrifice. Faith will keep the mind above the low level of earth, and direct the soul to Heaven in contemplation of the spiritual and eternal. Let us lift up Jesus, the Saviour of men. Talk of his love, tell of his power, and the angels of God will be attracted to you. Will you have faith in God, who “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”? ST March 18, 1889, par. 9