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For surely, to have faith in God, is to have faith that His will is always for the best. If we have faith in God in nature, we must have faith in the excellence of nature and the wisdom with which its forces are being evolved and controlled, and if we have faith in God as the Lord of our own souls, we must have faith to see that the promptings of His Holy Spirit must always be obeyed, and our wilfulness curbed whenever it is disposed to resist. We must have faith to see that all things are working together for good, and to range ourselves boldly on the side of good, as workers together with God in hastening the advent of His perfect kingdom. To have faith in God, therefore, is to have our souls magnetized as it were with such reverence and trust and love towards the mighty Power in whom we live and move and have our being, that whatever trials and hardships may befall us, our hearts shall always point true to the pole of our greatest good. It is to worship, and love, and trust, and consecrate our faculties to that which is above and beyond and better than ourselves, and hence to have a steadfastness and earnestness given to our lives which can be obtained in no other way. And so our faith is our life-and life is growth. The end of it we cannot see; it is hid with Christ in God. But about the direction and tendency of our lives there should be no doubt at all. You know the beloved Apostle
has written that the end of our religion was the manifestation of a Divine life, even the Divine life which the Apostles had seen exhibited in human form, and which they felt it to be their mission to declare unto others; and the Lord Himself has said that God is a Spirit—that is, breath or life-and He must therefore be worshipped in spirit and in truth— that is, by the sincere and honest devotion of our lives or spirits to the Spirit or life, which is the life of God. We also read that "God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all;" "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." Again, "Every one that loveth is born of God"—that is, has become a son of God" and knoweth God;""He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is Love." Now, all these passages and figures of speech go to prove that, whatever our ignorance may be respecting the Being of God and the future towards which we are advancing, we may easily tell whether we are advancing towards Him and going the right way to please Him-in a word, whether we have faith in Him both for what He is, and as the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him-by the general set or direction which has been impressed upon our lives. First of all, if we know not what the Spirit of God is in itself, we, at all events, know the fruits which are the result of its presence in our souls. Are our souls,
THE POLARITY" OF FAITH.
then, growing up in that Divine and unselfish life which God, in His mercy, once manifested upon earth in His love for man? Secondly, if God is compared to light, let us ask whether we love the light and all that light represents; for just as the vegetable creation thrives upon light, and always grows towards it, and withers without it, so the human soul can only grow towards God, and flourish with the life which proceeds from Him, by always courting the light, by welcoming and trusting every fresh fact or truth that is revealed, and believing that when it is understood it will lead us nearer to Him. If, then, we are afraid that the increase of knowledge with respect to the works of God, the laws of the universe, and the facts by which we are surrounded, may endanger religion and wipe out the Name of God, it is certain that we have no real faith in Him, and are simply bowing down before an idol of our own imaginations.
Again, if what we call our religion prompts us to be jealous and distrustful and contentious with those who are not like-minded with ourselves; if we are always on the point of falling out with our neighbours, and thinking that religion is in danger whenever we meet with people who follow not with us and see not with our eyes, it is plain that our faith is not in God, but in an idol of our own creation; for "he that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is Love."
In short, if we have faith in God, and faith in Him
as the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, we have no business to fear anything in heaven or earth, except those selfish and sinful dispositions which tend to set us in opposition to His holy will. If we have faith in God, we must have faith to hold that it must be worth while to follow whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are venerable, whatsoever things will bear the light of day. And, I say, if we will only pursue such things boldly and without fear of consequences, whether we can see the end towards which we are travelling, or whether we cannot, we shall find that we are certainly advancing in the direction of the light which proceeds from God, by the marvellous manner in which we find our duties opening out clearly before us, our souls expanding in the warmth and light and love of God, and in which our former doubts and difficulties and fears are falling away behind into the haze of distance. And such a life as this we shall find more and more worth living the longer we experience it; the interest of it can never cease, for the Source of it is infinite and Divine-even the Almighty Power in whom we live and move and have our being, without whom was not anything made that was made; and so long as we have a loyal trust in Him, no work or labour can ever be in vain.
Faith a Divine Instinct.
"Now the just shall live by faith."-HEB. X. 38. It is possible that some here present may remember reading the interesting account which is given by the Duke of Argyll of a wonderful example which he happened to witness, of the instinct which is to be found in the young of certain birds, which are accustomed to frequent clear pebbly streams, and to feed chiefly on molluscs and aquatic insects.
If I remember right, after describing the habits of the dipper, and the facility with which it dives under water, and even moves about for a time at the bottom in pursuit of its prey, the Duke goes on to relate that it happened to him to be passing near the mouth of a tunnel in which some of these birds had built their nest. In ordinary seasons a stream flowed through it, but the channel was now dry, and only a few pools remained in the bed of the stream below. Somehow or other, I think his dog either overturned the nest or frightened the birds out of it; but the remarkable