Chapter 92

  1. Faith

“Faith is the subtle chain

That binds us to the infinite; the voice

Of a deep life within, that will remain

Until we crowd it thence.”

Faith is the true prophet of the soul, and ever beholds a spiritual life, spiritual relations, labors, and joys. Its office is to teach man that he is a spiritual being, that he has an inward life enshrined in this material encasement—an immortal gem set now in an earthly casket. It assures man that he lives not for this life alone, but for another superior to this, more glorious and real. It teaches that God is a spirit, and seeks to worship him as such. It dignifies humanity with immortality. It dwells ever upon an unseen world, announcing always that unseen realities are eternal.

A living, active faith is not only a necessity, if we would reap great good, but it is so founded on the nature of things that it is natural for men to have a faith in the promises of others. It is only from experience that the little child learns to distrust others. Then, there is the faith in one’s own powers. This is as necessary a form of faith as any, and where not allowed to degenerate into egotism is a most beneficent form of faith. Its true foundation is the same as any faith; that is, reliance on God’s promises. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Hence, relying on this, and putting forth the necessary exertions, why not confidently expect a fulfillment of the promise? This is the germ of all true self-reliance.

A true faith we can somehow reach all through life, and it will bring to the soul a rich meed of consolation, even in the shades of life. We can cherish a sure hope about our future and the future of those that belong to us—a sunny, eager onlooking toward the fulfillment of all the promises God has written on our nature. We should have faith in the ultimate triumph of the good and the true. It is quite the fashion of the times to lament over the degeneracy of the present, and to think of the palmy day long since past. We have indeed read history to but little account do we not realize that the world is growing better, and feel confident of the ultimate triumph of the forces of good.

Life grows darker as we go on, till only one pure light is left shining on it, and that is faith. Old age, like solitude and sorrow, has its revelations. It is then that we perceive the hollowness and emptiness of many of the bubbles we have been pursuing. Fortunate is he who in that hour can rest down on the promise of God with a steadfast faith. When in your last hour all faculty in your broken spirit shall fade away, and sink into inanity—imagination, thought, effort, enjoyment, all fade away—then will the flower of belief, which blossoms even in the night, remain to refresh you with its fragrance in the last darkness.

Morality as a guiding light to man sometimes conduces to noble ends. It is sometimes so resplendent as to make a man walk through life amid glory and acclamation; but it is apt to burn very dimly and low when carried into the “valley of the shadow of death.” But faith is like the evening star, shining into our souls, the more gloomy is the night of death in which they sink. Surrounded by friends and the comforts of life, morality appears sufficient; but when the storms of life blow upon us, then we see how necessary to us is a faith in God’s Word and his promises. Its light only is capable of dispelling the gloom of our surroundings.

Never yet did there exist a full faith which did not expand the intellect while it purified the heart, which did not multiply the aims and objects of the understanding while it fixed and simplified those of the desires and passions. Faith often builds in the dungeon and lazar-house its sublimest shrine, and up through roofs of stone, that shut out the eye of heaven, ascends the ladder of prayer, where the angels glide to and fro. Faith is the key that unlocks the cabinet of God’s treasures, the messenger from the celestial world to bring all the supplies, that we need. It converses with angels and antedates the hymns of glory. To every man this grace is certain that there are glories for him if he walks by faith and perseveres in duty. Faith is a homely, private capital, as there are public savings-banks and poor funds, out of which in times of need we can relieve the necessities of individuals; so here the faithful take their coin in peace.

A Christian builds his fortitude on a better foundation than stoicism. He is pleased with every thing that happens, because he knows it could not have happened unless it first pleased God, and that which pleases him must be the best. He is assured that no new thing can befall him, and that he is in the hands of a Father who will prove him with no affliction that resignation can not conquer or that death can not cure. In the darkest night faith sees a star, in the times of greatest need finds a helping hand, and in the times of sorest trouble hears a sympathizing voice.

Judge not a man by his outward manifestation of faith, for some there are who tremblingly reach out shaking hands to the guidance of faith; others who stoutly venture in the dark their human confidence, the leader which they mistake for faith; some whose hope totters upon crutches; others who stalk into futurity upon stilts. Faith is not an exotic that grows in but one clime. The snows of an eternal Winter can not quench its fire, neither can the glow of a tropical sun destroy its life and freshness. In the palace of the king or the hut of the peasant, in the homes of the rich or the cabins of the poor it emits its fragrance with equal powers to please. It is as necessary to the learned as to the ignorant, and comforts alike the declining years of the sage and him who never knew the value of education.

As the flower is before the fruit, so is faith before good works. He who has strong faith will show his faith by his works. If he has faith in himself he shows it by ambitious plans, resolves, and endeavors. A true faith is necessary to enable us to make the most of life and its possibilities. We need a faith in our fellow-men. In all the ordinary business transactions we must exercise this virtue or accomplish nothing. Did you ever reflect what this world would be were all faith destroyed? Faith and confidence are synonymous terms. What a wilderness would this be were the confidence which exists between husband and wife destroyed or did not mutual confidence exist between the members of the same family circle! Home would cease to be home; family ties would prove to be bonds of straw; communities could not be held together; the vast fabric of society would dissolve, and smiling countries would once more be the abode of savages. Too great a confidence bespeaks a trusting simplicity suited only for childish years. But an utterly incredulous nature, refusing to believe unless supported by the evidence of his own senses, as certainly portrays the selfish, narrow, and bigoted nature as that fields of waving grain are proof positive of fertile soil, the shining sun, and the early and later rain.

, In, pager

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