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To hope that the united Powers
Holding these views of a Statesman's duties and policy, we feel more than a common joy at the full edition of Washington's Writings, now coming from the press. To them, to the life of John Jay, to the (as yet unwritten) life of John Marshall, and above all, to the Bible, we would direct the eye of every aspirant for political honors. Washington's works form an era in the history of political science. The school of American diplomacy has had its own peculiar character siuce the days of our Revolution; may it not lose that character, but continue to be what it has been, a school of honest and Christian diplomatists; if it does lose it, our land will fall, and our last state be worse than our first.
J. H. P.
ART. VII.-SERMON ON FAITH.
A Sermon on Faith ; by Henry Ware, Jr., Professor of
Pulpit Eloquence, and having the Pastoral care in Harvard University.
WE WALK BY Faity, By Sight.—2 Corinthians, v, 7.
The distinction here intimated between Faith and Sight, between what we believe and what we know, is a very familiar one; and its nature is sufficiently obvious. It refers not so much to the certainty of an opinion or fact, as to the evidence on which it rests. One may be equally certain of that which he believes, as of that which he knows; but he has arrived at his confidence by a different evidence. I am as certain that there is a mosque at Constantinople, as that there is a church here; but in the one case it is the certainty of Knowledge, in the other, the certainty of Faith. Knowledge is derived from consciousness, from sensation, from demonstration; Faith springs from testimony, and from analogy. I know, because I am conscious; I see, feel, observe, and follow the reasonings of science. I believe, because I am told by witnesses, and because analogy renders it probable. But I
am just as certain in the one case, as in the other. My faith, that Columbus lived and visited America, has no more doubt in it, than my consciousness that I live myself. My assurance that the huge bones of the mammoth, belonged to a creature having lungs and muscles; and that the splendid ruins of Palmyra were built and once inhabited by men, is as strong from analogy, as my confidence in the forty-seventh proposition of Euclid, from demonstration. So, that when the Christian believer speaks of his "Faith,” he uses a term which expresses not one whit less of confidence, than when he speaks of what he “knows.” Indeed, in religious affairs, these are for the most part convertible terms; religious knowledge, with scarcely an exception beyond what relates to a man's private experience, is precisely religious faith;—it is a knowledge, founded, like men's knowledge of distant countries and past ages, on testimony; and he walks by it just as confidently as if he walked by sight.
This being so, it is obvious that the word Faith, as applied to matters of religion, has precisely the same meaning which it has when applied to other subjects or affairs; in other words, it is the same exercise of the mind. The Christian believes by the same constitution and process of mind, with which the merchant believes that there are cities which he has never seen; and the scholar credits the tale of an historian, who died two thousand years ago. It belongs to the human mind to believe on evidence; and on sufficient evidence, to believe with the confidence of knowledge; and it is all the same, so far, whether the subject be sacred or profane, this world or the next;—the state and process of the human mind is in each case the same.
Therefore—the New Testament does the most natural thing in the world, the most reasonable, the most unenviable thing, when it builds up the Christian Religion on Faith, and declares it essential to salvation. It could not do otherwise. In the nature of things, there can be no religion, excepting through Faith. No man can come to God, except he believe that He is. No doctrine can be received as from God, except the testimony which establishes it be believed. No teacher can be followed, no futurity sought, no retributions expected, except through Faith. The beginning, progress, and end of the soul's existence on earth is, and must be, a pure process of faith. For it has to do with the past, the absent, the distant, the future, the invisible; and there is no possible way for man to do with either, except through Faith. Try the experiment, and determine for yourself. What knowledge have you of
things past, distant, absent, future, invisible, excepting what you have derived through Faith? Wherefore Christianity, rightly, necessarily, and reasonably, founds itself on Faithdemands Faith of those who receive it—and insists that, without Faith, all is vain. It would be merely preposterous, it would be a bare absurdity, to suppose that one may worship an invisible God, may receive the advantages of Christ's teaching and mediation, may have the influences, consolations, and hopes of a spiritual and everlasting life, without believing in it all. The obligation of Faith is, therefore, absolute and incontestable; and it becomes a matter of unspeakable moment to us to ascertain aright what it is, that we may truly cherish and exercise it.
Let us, therefore, cursorily glance at its Nature, Reality, and Power.
The Nature of Faith has been in a good degree set forth in the remarks already made. We must add, however, to what has been said, that its characteristics vary with the point of view from which it is regarded. The fundamental idea is belief; but other ideas pertain to it; and in order to the full de velopment of the principle, it will be necessary to arrange and classify these ideas.' We may thus distribute them into four classes.
First-Faith is a principle of the Understanding. It is the rational assent to evidence. The understanding listens to testimony, weighs probabilities, compares arguments, and decides to believe or disbelieve, according to the result. And it cannot, strictly speaking, decide contrary to the strength of evidence, or rather, to its own apprehension of the strength of evidence. A man cannot refuse to believe what seems to him proved to be true, nor can he hold as true what he thinks proved to be false. Hence it is plain, that in Faith, as a principle of the understanding, there is no moral quality. It is neither virtuous nor vicious,neither blamable nor praiseworthy, to assent to what passes before one's eyes, and what he cannot disbelieve if he tries. For which reason Historical Faith, as it is called that is, a mere acknowledgment that the gospel history is true, and that Christ is the Savior of the worldis no where spoken of as having any value, is not that which the Scriptures applaud. Thomas declared that he would not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, unless he should see and touch him. He saw and touched, and then was not faithless, but believing. Did his Master praise that Faith?— Not at all; but rather the contrary. "Because thou hast SEEN, therefore thou hast believed! Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.'
In the second place-Faith is a principle of the Affections. The Heart gives itself up to that which the Understanding assents to, takes an interest in it, becomes attached to it, trusts it. Here Faith becomes a moral quality ;-since a man is virtuous or vicious, according as he devotes his heart to good or evil objects. Thus, in the case of Thomas—though there was no virtue in his believing that Christ was risen, because he saw and touched him; yet, when he gave his heart to him, and obediently followed him as his Master and Lord, he exhibited qualities that were praiseworthy. Thus it is one element of a true Faith, that it subjects the affections to its sway -so that they love, desire, hate, precisely what religion shows them to be lovely,desirable, hateful; they approve and conform to the proper standard of Christ. Hence the expression of Paul; “With the Heart man believes unto righteousness.”
Then, thirdly–Faith is a principle of the Will. Onę may assent to a truth, may even love it, and yet have no conformity of will to it; may not resolutely choose to devote himself to it and follow it; may retain in his own mind a depraved preference for the opposite; may applaud and love the good, and yet pursue the evil. Now, true Christian Faith takes hold on the Will, causes religion to be its guide, its umpire, its supreme director, so that the man of Faith submits to it his inclinations and preferences, and habitually chooses the will of God.
And, fourthly-it is a principle of Action. It does not barely gain the consent of the Understanding, kindle the Affections, give direction to the Will; it acts in the life; it is the perpetual impulse and excitement of the conduct-controlling the indulgence of appetite and passion, dictating the favorite pursuit,and enforcing the law of universal uprightness, purity, and charity. So that the man not only has his convictions and preferences, but he carries them out in his life, exhibits them in his conduct ; in a word, walks by them. We walk by Faith.
All this is comprised in Faith-the subjection of the Understanding, the Affections, the Will, and the Life. When concerned with the Understanding, it is simple belief; when wrought into the Affections, it takes the name and character of trust; and when, beyond this, it bends the Will, and forms the Active character-it shows itself to be no less than the religious principle; the great all-powerful principle, by which man is moulded into a conformity with his Creator, and made such as Christ came to fashion him. It is The Religious Principle; and for that reason is insisted on, throughout the New
Testament, in the most frequent, most various, most authoritative terms, as the source of human strength, and the indispensable condition of acceptance and salvation.
Such is Christian Faith;-and by this we are to walk, says our text. We are to direct by it our path through the world. We are to give it the rule over our spirits and our lives. It is to be the vigilant overseer, the sovereign dictator, to watch over and control us in our way, with a uniform, uninterrupted, ever wakeful influence. It is to be in our moral system, what the eternal principle of gravitation is in the material universe—the law which maintains all in its right place and relative order, and leads all to the rightful result. It is to become a sort of instinct within us, conscious of the
presence of God, trustful of his providence, satisfied with all that occurs, sensitive to hints of truth,prompt to suggestions of right,andthus imparting to us a spirit of quiet serenity and steadfast rectitude. It is not so much a separate act of the mind,or an insulated grace of the character, one act of a long catalogue of virtues, as it is the origin and main-spring of all the virtues, the spirit that must animate all, the essence that must be infused into all, and without which, none of them have that immortal principle of life which will prolong their existence beyond the present scene.
We see, then, what is the nature of Faith. We were next to explain its reality and power. And here the single idea to be enforced, is that with which I began; namely, that so far as regards certainty, our Faith should be to us the same thing as Knowledge, and as real a thing as sense.
The great practical difficulty with men in regard to religion is, that they fancy they do not know these things to be true; if, they pretend, these truths were as real as this visible world, they should find it easy to do their religious duty. This is the plea with which they quiet themselves in a life of indifference and neglect. . Let it be understood, therefore, as the simple fact,that they are in themselves as realas the tangible objects of sense, and as certain to us as if we came to a knowledge of them in the same way. Nay, 1 may go further, and assert, that we do actually know them in the same way and by as strong evidence, as we know most of those things of sense, on which we stake our happiness with the greatest confidence.
This is the great practical remark belonging to our subject; and it needs less an argument to prove it true, than an illustration to render it obvious to our apprehension. Let us attempt such an illustration.
We may begin it by observing, that the disposition in man