III. In what does faith differ from hope?

We must not confound justifying faith with hope, although both have respect to the same blessing. Faith lays hold of present good, whilst hope has respect to that which is future. Obj. But we believe in everlasting life, which is, nevertheless, something that is future. Therefore, faith also has respect to future good. Ans. Eternal life is a future good as to its consummation; and, in this respect, we do not simply believe in it, but hope for it. "For we are saved by hope." "Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." (Rom. 8:24. 1 John 3:2.) But life everlasting is also a present good, in respect to the will of God, who grants it unto us, and in respect to the beginning of it even in this life, in which respect it is not hoped for, but believed, as it is said: "He that believeth on the Son of God, hath everlasting life, and is passed from death unto life." "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God," &c. (John 5:24; 17:3.) By faith, therefore, we are persuaded that those benefits are ours, which we have not as yet, on account of the promise of God; and by hope, we confidently look for the full consummation of these things. It is in this sense that Paul speaks of faith when he says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for." (Heb. 11:1.) That is, it is that which makes those things hoped for, present and real; and is the evidence of those things which do not appear as it respects their consummation.

There are some who make the following distinction between faith and hope: Faith embraces the promises contained in the creed concerning things to come; whilst hope comprehends the things themselves which are future. This distinction, however, is less popular, and not as easily understood as the former.