Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

chaser to produce no one knows what abundance of hybrid and original orchids; to have adorned his own and a thousand other conservatories with new and delightful flowers. So our Lord teaches that out of a microscopic speck of genuine faith in God, in His most holy Word, in His eternal promise in Christ Jesus, will spring purity and peace, strength and victory, high character and heroic service-in this world all the graces of the Spirit, and in the next all the flowers and fruits of paradise. A vague, passive faith that is neither belief nor disbelief is worth little; a sterling faith, however weak and hesitating, holds the potency and promise of universal grace and glory.

A religious faith that is as a grain of mustard seed greatly distinguishes its possessor, and invests him with a glorious moral mastery. How wonderful it is when a man is born with a grain of poetry in his brain! That fact differentiates him from the vast majority of men, and gives to his words and work charm. and power. In his imagination common things are mysteriously enhanced, the splendour of nature unseen by other eyes dazzles his, and human life, so prosaic to the mass, is romantic to one in whose soul shines the poetic gleam. We may inherit only a grain of poetry, yet that mystic atom makes an almost infinite difference; the world that otherwise were a dust-heap is a jewel-heap, and life that otherwise were dark and dull is sprinkled with azure and gold. And this mere dust of poetry in the brain creates the picture, the music, the song, the oration about which men talk and which they do not willingly let die. What a wonderful

gift is a spark of genius! It is indefinable, elusive, incalculable, yet the difference that it establishes between men is immense; they who possess it are seers looking straight into the secret of things, and by their knowledge of the laws and forces of nature they make us masters of the situation. A spark of genius constitutes a unique personality, one gifted with vision and sovereign skill, a miracle-worker in the natural sphere.

So our Lord declares it to be with the believer whose faith is "as a grain of mustard seed." It is far from being a completed faculty or exercise, but the least in the kingdom of God have in their actual, sympathetic, transforming confidence in a higher world a most precious source of vision and energy. What the grain of poetry or the spark of genius is in the mental world, the gleam of spiritual faith is in all that pertains to the higher life of man. One vivid vision of God-His goodness, holiness, nearness; one real sight of the Saviour's all-sufficing merit and love; one heartfelt experience of the virtue of heavenly grace; one flash of the eternity which awaits us and which is so surely ours, these, or any of these, inspire a power which can remove mountains, reveal all life in a new light, and bring into the soul consolations and hopes far beyond anything known to the natural man. The main thing is not to believe in many propositions faintly and doubtfully, but to get a fast grip upon the truths by which men live. All the great doctrines of salvation are related, and hang together by secret bonds; and if we once get hold of any of these, we may be sure that the Spirit of truth will in due season lead us into

the whole truth. Having seen "His star," all fainter stars and nebulæ on the far horizon may be trusted in due time to resolve themselves into bright constellations. We have only to be afraid when we hold no one saving truth with any clearness or sincerity.

"One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see." The modesty of the testimony of the man born blind may be imitated by us with great advantage. The scientist is often content to study a single branch of knowledge, to apprehend and illustrate one great principle of nature. Ordinary men regard such extremely limited specialism as quite unworthy and of little value, but the thinker knows better. He knows that to really master a fragment is to get hold of universal truth. As Sir James Paget writes: "If the field of any specialty in science be narrow, it can be dug deeply. In science, as in mining, a very narrow shaft, if only it be carried deep enough, may reach the richest stores of wealth, and find use for all the appliances of scientific art." So our view of spiritual truth may be confined; yet if it only be genuine and go deep enough, it will in due time bring us into possession of treasures of knowledge beyond all our thought and hope. Into many historical, metaphysical, and ecclesiastical questions we find ourselves unable to enter, yet we need not worry about this; grasping fundamental gospel truths with a sincere and sympathetic heart, God will in due order reveal related truths as we are able to receive and bear them. Such a genuine belief will certainly grow in clearness, fullness, and intensity. Let us, then, seek that hold upon God as revealed in Christ, in which meet the concur

rence of the mind, the conscience, the affections, and the will; and such a faith, although now like a grain of mustard seed, shall wax into noonday clearness and all-conquering power.

XLIII

THE CONDITION OF

RIGHTEOUSNESS

The just shall live by his faith.-Hab. ii. 4.

REAT ethical thinkers in all ages have un

derstood the profound significance of this declaration, that the sense of the supernatural is the foundation and dynamic of righteous life. Grasping the facts of the unseen we are able to maintain our integrity in days of darkness and perplexity, of temptation and suffering, of threatening and peril. By faith we become just. This is the great truth which St. Paul grasped as against the traditionalism of the Jew, which Martin Luther urged as against papal ceremonialism. "I am not ashamed of the gospel for therein is revealed a righteousness of God by faith unto faith: as it is written. But the righteous shall live by faith" (Rom. i, 16, 17). The moral law convicts and condemns, but God in Christ has discovered for us the grounds of pardon and grace, the secret of renewal and righteousness. Taking God at His word, trusting in His declared mercy, resting on the infinite merit of that sacrifice in which God Himself was well pleased, the penitent consciously passes from death unto life. His iniquity is forgiven, his sin covered, he is treated as a discharged and righteous man, and when God treats a man as righteous He

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »