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that he to whom God has revealed himself in mercy through Jesus Christ by means of the Scriptures, could ever so far err, as to question the divine origin of these Scriptures, would hardly be expected. Yet such is sometimes the fact, as could be shown from the recorded experience of many Christians. We are far from asserting that such doubts could ever so take possession of a Christian, as to become an habitual state of mind. This we believe impossible. But we believe it is possible for various causes, such as physical weakness, wrong education, etc., to keep one who is really a Christian, perpetually oscillating between hope and fear. Dr. Arnold's words confirm this :
“He may be perplexed with doubts all his days; nay, his fears lest the Gospel should not be true, may be stronger than his hopes that it will. This is a state of great pain, and of most severe trial, to be pitied heartily, but not to be condemned. I am satisfied that a good man can never get further than this; for his goodness will save him from unbelief, though not from the misery of scanty faith.”1
How many doubting Christians can respond, with sad earnestness, "the misery of scanty faith!” Let them not however despond, but rather heartily resolve, once more, to be rid, if possible, of this burden of doubt. Let them see to it that the body presents no obstacle to spiritual light and comfort. Each part of our being has its relations to every other part; let them remember this, and, as a condition of the highest spiritual growth, preserve, as far as possible, vigorous physical health. Neither let any known sin stand in the way of spiritual attainment. What but doubt and confusion can those expect, who are striving to form a compromise between darkness and light, sin and holiness? " Ye can not serve two masters.” Moreover, let such doubting ones study the evidences of Christianity. God has not left his truth without means of confirmation to the minds of reasonable beings. And we can not be too thankful for this ; that in hours of darkness, we may again consider those many proofs which wise and good men have set in order, to show the divine origin of Christianity.
Doubt in regard to particular doctrines of the Bible is not unfrequently found in the case of men of much intellectual power,
? Life and Correspondence, Vol. I, p. 279.
who are loth to believe any doctrine or opinion which does not convince the understanding, though it be the word of God. They are ever assuming that God does not require of men to believe anything which they can not comprehend. But while God has explained to us every truth which we need to understand, he has also revealed many truths which are just as necessary for us to believe, though there be not a word of enlargement or explanation, but only the accompanying assertion,"thus saith the Lord.” Such, for example, is the doctrine of the Trinity. Ilow three persons can co-exist in one, it is certainly beyond human power to understand, though some have attempted to explain it; yet that such is the Divine Nature, we are plainly taught in the Bible. And shall we not believe it, because we can not understand it? But it is a mystery. Well; and shall we not believe a mystery, simply because it is a mystery? Let us carefully question our own experience, and see if we are not every day believing, and acting upon the belief of what we do not understand. Can you explain the existence or the subtle phenomena of light, that element or agent (which is it?) that so mysteriously surrounds all objects, or is as mysteriously removed? Do you perfectly understand how and why it is, that this same clear, colorless medium is made up of seven distinct, positive colors ? But you do not hesitate to believe. Think again of all the countless forms of animal and vegetable life. Can you tell me, in one single instance, what this life is; what this vital principle, whose removal we call death? Is there no mystery here? But you do not hesitate to believe. Is any more emphatic illustration needed? If so, we may say, that man is to himself, the greatest mystery of all. He can no more explain his own life than he can that of the lower animal or the plant. But, more than in the case of these, he has a mind, a soul; yet all his speculations ever since the world began have not brought him a sure answer to these two plain questions; what is the nature of the soul? and, where, in the body, is it located ?
Let us not, then, doubt any truth of God's word, merely because it is a mystery. Let us not be puffed up with pride of intellect; but rather, keeping in mind how great must be the distance between the finite and infinite, cherish the spirit enjoined in Christ's words, when he says, " Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Christianity does indeed present difficulties to our finite comprehension, it would be strange if it did not, but it is just these difficulties which test and strengthen faith. Moreover, every inquiry only more assures the Christian that the difficulties of scepticism and infidelity are far greater than those of Christianity; and in this way his reason and his faith may become reconciled.
But in these days of liberal Christianity, there are not a few, who call themselves Christians, who do not scruple not only to doubt but to emphatically reject certain whole books of Scripture, and retain others. One questions the authority of the Pentateuch ; another affirms that the entire Old Testament has not the same divine sanction as the New, and is to be received, if at all, only with many limitations; while others, again, explain away the whole force of the New Testament, making Jesus Christ to have been nothing more than a good man, and the miracles and parables to have been only myths and stories handed down by tradition. Now, whether such persons can be true Christians, is for God alone to say; we do not, in judging systems, necessarily judge men who may be temporarily left in error; you are not responsible to me for your belief, any more than I to you for mine; but we are both alike responsible to God. While some may be confident that they have forever disproved parts of the Bible, we are just as sure, that God must be the God of the whole Bible or of none at all; and we suggest a careful reading of this warning: "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Perhaps the most common form of doubt at the present day arises from the supposed want of harmony between Natural Science and revealed Religion. Progress in physical science has become the distinguishing characteristic of the nineteenth century. Nor has this been only an advancement in the knowledge of nature's laws, but practical improvements have followed closely upon any newly established theories. Thus has the world been brought to hold larger and more liberal, as well as truer views of man and nature; and at the same time, the various applications of science to the arts have added almost more than we can conceive to the material comfort of all classes. Inasmuch as the truths of science obey the general law which we have already stated, in being established only after long investigation and great variance of opinion, it is not surprising that the path of scientific investigation has all along been marked by some supposed want of harmony between science and revelation. For a long time this was seen in connection with astronomy. Doubtless with great hesitation did he hold his opinion, who first dared think the earth moved ; and as late as the time of Galileo, contempt and bitter persecution were the old philosopher's only reward when he proposed this as his belief. "How can this be? For it is opposed to the Bible" : thus they reasoned ; and "only after ages of observation and conjecture, during which the phenomena seemeil in hopeless confusion ; after exhausting the efforts of some of the best minds in every age, the central truth of astronomy at length dawned, and the chaos of conjecture became the order of science."? Then nature and revelation were found to harmonize; and the Bible was no longer supposed to have been given us as an accurate text-book in płysical science. Subsequently the doubt has been in connection with other branches of science. Since the Mosaic account of the Creation, after calling forth much speculation, may be considered established, through the labors of Christian men of science, such as Hugh Viller and others; now that the unity of the race has been successfully argued against Darwin and his school by St. Hilaire, Prichard, and many more ; just now the question of the antiquity of man is claiming attention. But while Lyell may bring forward many real and supposed facts, which seem to assign a far greater age to the race than is consistent with the biblical account, other considerations are strongly urging us to adopt the statement of the Bible, great as the discrepancies may appear. In connection with this as well as all other such questions, what at first seems to be the solid ground of truth may afterwards be found to have been only airy conjecture; and of one thing we may be assured, that whatever are established as the facts of physical science will be seen to clearly harmonize with the statements of the Bible. It is the sceptic's wish and purpose to make it otherwise; but we are not speaking so much of the doubts of sceptics as of the doubts of Christians; and certainly to every Christian the assumption cannot fail to have force, that the God of Nature and of Revelation must be the same. Where then is the difficulty, when there come these repeated cries of "Lo, here," and "Lo, there,” and that the Bible can not be true, for science must be? Is God not in harmony with his works? Or is the trouble to be found in man's wrong interpretation of science, or revelation, or both? When then you are perplexed with doubts of this nature, do not give up the search for truth; but persevere with earnestness, ever keeping your faith in God; and know, that in the end, all that is now obscure shall be made plain. " Prove all things," but also " hold fast that which is good.”
If all Christians would study the Bible more, and with a simple, child-like temper, asking for the illumination of the Holy Spirit, there would be far less doubt creeping in and fixing itself unawares in their systems of belief. God does indeed permit his children to doubt; but it is his design that this doubt should strengthen their faith ; and this is accomplished, not by fostering and indulging in doubt, but by conquering it. It is an obstacle, which must be overcome; it is the parasite, whose roots take hold of the life of the plant, and which must be removed or it will surely bring death. We may all find truth in Pascal's words: “There is light enough for those whose sincere wish is to see, and darkness enough to confound those of an opposite disposition.”