« 前へ次へ »
Page 156, line 12, read her speechless.
WALKING BY FAITH.
II COR. V. 7.
WE WALK BY FAITH, AND NOT BY SIGHT.
then begun, read did not then
In this chapter the Apostle is treating of the immortality of man, With great confidence, he expresses his hope of a future state of happiness. Nevertheless, he adds, we walk by faith, and not by sight. That is, this immortality is not a matter of knowledge, but of belief. We cannot demonstrate it, though we are firmly persuaded of its truth. The assertion of the Apostle is not applicable to a future state only; but in almost all the doctrines of revealed religion, we walk by faith and not by sight. Absolute knowledge, in few cases, is granted to us; what we believe may be probable, but it is not certain; for here we see through a glass darkly, and know in part. In a future world we hope to enjoy perfect knowledge; but the present world is in some measure a scene of obscurity.
As a consideration of this subject is adapted to make us cautious, humble, and candid, it deserves attention. At the same time, it is of importance to show that the prejudices, which are entertained against religion on this account, are ill-founded; for if we walk by faith in reli
gion, we are guided by the same light in almost everything else.
We ought not therefore to object against revelation, because it cannot be demonstrated; for demonstration is not afforded us in other subjects.
Man, however, anxiously wishes for certainty in everything of importance; and when he does not possess it, is disposed to complain. Why has not God made what we are to believe so plain and evident, as that all doubts should be prevented ? is a common inquiry. Why has he not revealed himself so clearly, as that we should be as certain of his existence as of our own? Why do we, not only believe, but know, that he is one being, who is infinitely powerful, wise, and good, the creator of heaven and earth, and the judge of men ? Why are we not enabled absolutely to determine, whether Jesus Christ is a pre-existent being, or only a man? Why do we not certainly know, whether or not, he is an object of prayer ? Why have we not more than probable evidence of the truth of Christianity? Why are men permitted to dispute about the meaning of its doctrines ? Why is there such obscurity in the language of the sacred writers, as that controversies should exist concerning the trinity, the atonement of Christ, original sin, predestination, and everlasting punishment ? Why do we not understand St Paul as well he understood himself? and why should it be possible that so many different explanations can be made of his words ? In particular, why do we not know that we are immortal ? Why have we not such evidence, as that it would be impossible to doubt of a future state ? Why does not a ghost return from the other world, or a dead man rise, and make this important doctrine certain ? We are frequently told, that we shall be punished hereafter for the deeds done in the body : we wish that we absolutely knew this; for certain knowledge would have
We are guided by the same light in almost every-
a greater influence on our conduct, than mere faith, ever lively it may be. We have also heard tha shall meet our virtuous friends in a better state: I were certain of this, we should see them die with r resignation.
Such language as this is natural to man. There few of us, who have not felt it and spoken it in our hea In particular, when we have been inquiring after tr when we have been disputing concerning any doct of revealed religion, when we have been defen Christianity against the objections of infidels, and h found how easy it is to involve the subject in obscu we have ardently wished that a voice from heaven some other proof, which might infallibly be depen on, would decide the controversy at once and rem every
doubt. May we not say, that the goodness of God wo vouchsafe us the demonstration which we desire, i was proper or possible? But he does not in fact
; live the life of faith, and not of knowledge : such is constitution of things. Satisfied that whatever God d is right, I conceive that it is our duty, not to complain this system, and to wish that it might be altered, bu endeavor to find out its reasons. Let us therefore inqu why it is that God causes us to walk by faith and not sight: after which let us attempt to show, that from constitution of things advantages result, which we ca not enjoy, if, in every case, we possessed absolute kn ledge.
intinitely powerful, wise, and good, the creator of
possible that so many different explanations can be
-I knew this; for certain knowledge would have
1. The most important doctrine of religion is, t there is one God of infinite perfection, by whose po we were created, by whose providence we are preserv
whom therefore we are bound to love, to worship, and obey, and to whom we are accountable for all our conduct. This truth is proved by the strongest probable arguments, the evidence of which is nearly irresistible. It does not amount however to strict demonstration. There have been persons who have doubted of the being of God; which shows that this truth is not as certain as mathematical propositions ; for no man can, or does doubt of them. Here then some may be ready to desire that the Supreme Being had revealed himself more fully; so that we might not only rationally believe, but absolutely know, that he exists.
But it may be asked, how could this have been done? As God is infinite, it is impossible that he should become the object of any one of our senses. We could not be made to see or feel him, who has neither parts, nor limits, nor form, nor color, nor motion. We see his works; and he has given us understanding, by which, when it is properly directed, we are capable of discerning their contrivance, beauty, and harmony, and of perceiving that they must have an author of great power and wisdom. The visible world manifests to the well-tutored eye, that there is a God; but so sublime an idea as that of a Deity would not of itself enter the uninstructed mind. On the contrary, it is probable that men are indebted for their first knowledge of this truth to a divine communication, or to a tradition, derived from this source. Revelation informs is that the world was produced by an intelligent cause. But revelation is not an object of knowledge, but of faith. Even then with respect to the being of a God, the most important of all truths, we walk by faith, and not by sight; and it seems not possible that it could otherwise be.