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life. If we cannot belong to the flowers of the garden, the aristocracy of flowers, let us be content to be flowers of the grass-very beautiful in the eyes of Him who makes the grass to grow upon the mountains, and who clothes with grace the lily of the field. Not in brilliance, but in simple work honestly wrought are we perfected. Let us believe in high truths, and at the same time in the divinity of fag.
Be mild, and cleave to gentle things,
What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him?-JAS. ii. 14.
MAN'S consciousness of his relation to God may be so vague that it exercises no influence whatever on his character and conduct, or let us say, no appreciable influence. It is possible to hold the Christian creed so faintly that it exerts no more practical influence over us than our knowledge of mythology. Lord Bacon writes of "bed-ridden truths." He means truths dimly seen and ineffectually realized: truths which, for some reason or other, do not assert themselves and produce the effects to which they are logically competent. Through long ages master thinkers get glimpses of the idea, in some measure they expound and enforce it, but it remains nebulous and ineffective, a mere speculation.
It was thus with the doctrine of liberty. Through many generations great thinkers appreciated the obligation and grandeur of freedom in thought and government, and ever and anon vindicated most eloquently "the liberty of prophesying"; yet it was only in modern times that their contention proved availing, and liberty of thought and speech was granted. The truths
were within ken, and received logical attestation, but, as Bacon pictures them, they were "bed-ridden"; they were blear-eyed, had no use of their hands, only found their voice as a sleeper does in nightmare, they were weak in their ankle joints, and could not descend the stair and make themselves felt in the street, the market-place, parliament, the academy, and the temple. It is with the race as with the individual. Nominal Christians verbally subscribe to all the articles of the creed, but the glorious truths they confess with their lip are invalided and sterile. Their mind is a dormitory of slumbering admissions, a sick ward of impotent beliefs, anæmic sentiments, paralytic and crippled purposes, This phantom faith does not energize, constrain, inspire, transform, or make anything it touches to live.
We call this "faith," but really it has no claim to be thus distinguished-rather ought it to be known as fancy opinion, speculation, or sentiment. How does the New Testament describe faith? "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." This is what revelation means by faith-conviction, enthusiasm, sacrifice, heroism-the victory that overcometh self, sin, and the world. How far away to-day is the faith of thousands from this vital force? Our creed is in our memory, on our lip, it revolves in our imagination, we give a faint, general, unimpassioned assent to the supreme verities; but our so-called faith does not force its way into thought, experience,
and conduct; it does not command our understanding, kindle our affections, energize our will, hallow our life. A heartfelt confidence in God and in His Son Jesus Christ is quickening throughout the whole personality and life as sunshine upon germs sown in honest ground; the traditional faith of the nominal believer is moonshine on snow. The faith that worketh by love, purifying and kindling the heart, has the magical virtue of a summer's day which makes everything to live; the phantom faith of the conventional orthodox is the frigid lustre of the northern lights.
"Can that faith save him?" We are assured that an educated Hindu will pass an examination in hygiene and then look on complacently while every imaginable sanitary law is violated within the walls of his own compound. He does not so realize his science as to appreciate its practical import, he is content with the abstruse knowledge, never proceeding to apply it. Does that faith save him? Is the educated Hindu in his filthy compound delivered by his abstract knowledge from enteric, plague, cholera? We know that his theoretic science gives him no immunity whatever; he falls a victim to the prevailing epidemic just as readily as do those who never heard of any science of health. Likewise the nominal saint masters the creeds, sometimes so thoroughly that he could pass a theological examination, and then in actual experience and conduct violates every great spiritual and moral law. Will his faith save him? Nay, does it save him? Does it save him from guilty fear, filling his heart with the peace of God's adopted children? Does it save from the power of passion and selfishness,
strengthening him to live in purity and love? Does it save in the day of temptation, enabling the tempted one to put away the evil thing? Does it save in the day of trouble, bringing strong consolation into the stricken heart? The theoretic knowledge of the Hindu, who practically disregards sanitary law, cannot save him from disease and death, so the notional ghostly faith of the nominal Christian is not able to save him from overmastering passion, sloth, sadness, and sin. And what fails to save here and now is not likely to save us elsewhere and hereafter. That faith, and that faith alone, which is genuine enough and strong enough to bring peace and purity now, can secure us eternal salvation. What stops with fancy and dreams is of little count in any department of life, least of all in questions of character and destiny.