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It is as a faith system, in distinction from one coming in the form of absolute demonstration, that the Bible is peculiarly adapted to excite and rouse the human mind. Nothing is more evident than that it would require no lofty exercise, scarcely an effort of the intelligence, to give its assent to a system which was supported by such proofs that the most prejudiced mind could neither deny or resist them. If the Gospel rested upon such evidence as this, it is not difficult to predict what the result would be. The mind forced to give its formal acceptance to Christianity, forced, upon the slightest consideration, to acknowledge that it is a system from God, would be found too often to rest in this as the duty required, and would fail even more than now to rise to its high and intelligent acceptance. As it is, the very doubt thrown about the Gospel is an incentive to its examination. It is a challenge to man's intellect. It bids him enter into this great field, not to settle down into its careless possession, but to explore its riches and to convince itself of their reality.

Let those who in their secret hearts accuse the gospel, because there are difficulties in its acceptance, and who would have Christianity reduced to a demonstration or an axiom, consider this. How many, out of the great mass of men who fail to be convinced of the truths of Christ, have ever brought themselves to an exercise of their intelligence sufficiently high and pure to see what its real claims are upon their belief? Is there not in the sluggishness and deadness of the human mind reason enough, if there existed no other, why multitudes should be unbelievers in Christianity? And is it for God to make concession to such spirit as that? Is it for God to cause His truth to be received in absolute knowledge and not by faith, that man may have no trouble to make sure of it, but may be indulged in his guilty indolence and indifference? This is not like God. He puts no such dishonor on the minds He has created. Everywhere, even in the earthly sphere, He subjects man to the discipline of having to decide questions that admit of doubt, and of having to make great discoveries of truth. This is the very chiefest spur of the human intellect, to weigh and decide upon conflicting evidence, as in nearly all the


tions of life, and especially to contemplate great principles, until the mind learns to see the peculiar light in which they shine, and to feel their evidence.

And if God, even in the worldly life, has ordered thus His system, out of regard to the needs of the human intellect, how much more should we expect it in that great gospel whose single aim is to raise and save man! How peculiarly fitting that in this the mind should be set to work to weigh its evidence, to contemplate its truths, and to accept it, if at all, in the high employment of the intelligence, as the reasonable belief of the soul. There is nothing weak in this. It is strong, stronger far than knowledge itself would be, for it is the very conviction of the understanding. And many is the man who has had fearful doubts to combat with, and has been led through the thick darkness, apparently to this very end, that his faith, when it should come forth at last, might abide in noble strength and in undying zeal.

II. But we pass to remark another significant fact,-that the gospel, as a faith system, has a power which it could never have if it were of knowledge, to awaken man to an earnest and sincere love of the truth.

If the mind of man is so deteriorated as to need to be dis ciplined to the apprehension of the highest truth, still more is this true of the heart. The great requirements of a perfect law, holiness, sacrifice, love, find little support in the natural disposition of man. Rather is he averse to them, deeply and totally averse. And this Infidelity itself must confess. The saying of Christ, "This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil," stands forever true. Christianity itself might pass away, but this discovery could never pass away; and any system of moral and religious truth, fitted to raise man, must find this mighty obstacle to contend with. A divine revelation, whenever and however made, must find it. How then shall the difficulty be met? Two ways are possi ble. God may accommodate himself to this spirit in man, and make the truth of His revelation so clear that he cannot help receiving it. He may make it a matter of absolute knowl

edge or of sight, so that there shall be no possibility of denying or resisting it, or it may be so presented that in order to its true and full acceptance, man shall be required to give up his hatred of the light, and all the prejudices of his perverted soul, and to say, "henceforth truth shall be to me the most sacred of things; I will open my whole nature to it; I will seek for it with all my heart, and wherever it lies, and whatever it involves, my soul shall see and embrace it."

It is a part of divine wisdom then, that the Bible comes so presented that the very process of truly accepting and believing it involves this work.

We claim that it is supported by proofs such that a soul open to the truth cannot but receiveit; nay, we claim it comes with so weighty evidence that it has all the power which it could have in any case to alarm man to the probability of his ruin, to awaken him to the possibility of life. It is the solemn teaching of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they hear, though one rose from the dead." It is so very solemn because it conveys so profound a truth. It is not greater certainty that man wants. It is not proofs that compel more entirely his assent. It is a spirit that loves truth and that is willing to accept it. This is the end to be accomplished in every soul; and to this it is no hindrance, it is a help rather, that man has the chance to disbelieve. It is a chance he does not fail to see. He does not fail eagerly to embrace it. This is the secret history of perhaps every impenitent soul. But he cannot rest there, he cannot silence his doubts and his fears. Ah! how true that is also! He cannot but suspect, nay know, in his secret soul, that he has brought into the holy presence a spirit that had no affinity with truth but that loved a lie. Meanwhile in his very strug gle there is hope. All that is better in him, all that aspires to Heaven, is engaged to break down his perverted will, and to humble it to the posture where it shall be open to the truth of God. He may resist and perish, but then also FATTI may have its triumph; and then is seen a sight, than which there is no fairer on the earth, the man who in his love of sin revolted at the gospel of Christ and would not have it, yielding himself

up unto it, not because God has come and written it out in letters of blazing light for him to read, as at Belshazzar's feast it flamed upon the wall before the very eyes of the monarch, but through the gentle subduing of his spirit unto the love of the truth as it is in the faith of Christ.

III. But it is not merely through the intellect, nor yet by a will disposed favorably to their reception, that man comes to the full apprehension of the noblest truths; there are within us susceptibilities by which we have an especial affinity to them, and it is a third great advantage of faith over knowledge, that it appeals especially to the sense of spiritual things in man, and is divinely fitted to evolve and strengthen it.

That which Christianity presents as the very mightiest of its evidences, that which it presents as forming the chiefest of its claims upon our acceptance, is its adaptation to the spiritual necessities of our nature; and there can be no understanding even of its system, still less any reception of it, until the soul has come to feel these. It must feel what the life is for which God made it, and how fallen its life is now; and it must see how precisely the gospel is fitted to it in both its condition and its wants, in its present wretchedness and the glorious possibilties of its being.

Now the truths of Christianity might be presented to us as knowledge, and task but little the deep spiritual sense within us. So far as their mere reception were concerned this would of necessity be the result. If the facts of Christ's life came supported by historical evidences such as could not be questioned, or if they were the objects of actual sight, we should be forced to say: This Being is from God, His words are God's truth; and to this it would be wholly unnecessary that we should test his declarations by the deep inner sense of our souls.

But, as received by faith, the gospel is not such. The strug gle of an earnest, thoughtful, and sincere spirit with doubt never comes to an end, never finds its complete solution until it leads to the deep feeling, "the soul that is in me responds so entirely to these truths, they fill so completely the yearnings of my spirit after immortal beauty, and purity and life, that it would be the very denial of myself, the renunciation of my

birthright, the disinheriting of my own spirit to reject them. Thus it is true that Christian faith becomes of its own very nature the loftiest exercise of our sense of spiritual things. It is the very discipline of the soul unto that state in which all that is highest in it, brought into complete development, shall constitute its true and eternal life.

IV. It will not have failed to be observed that in the three points we have thus far made, we have in reality, though without antecedently intending it, considered faith as divinely fitted to renovate the soul of man in each of its three great divisions, the intellect the will, or purpose of the soul as opening itself or not to God's truth-and the affections, or more purely spiritual susceptibilities. We have tried to show that in each of these great respects the Christian system, as one arranged to be received by faith, is divinely fitted to renovate the human spirit, and to restore it to its true life.

But it may be asked, can the Christian system then be fully received only when this great discipline of doubt and conflict has been gone through? and, if so, what becomes of the multitudes who from their very circumstances can have little experience of this, but must needs accept the truth as a matter of trust?

To this two things are to be said in answer. First, it is indispensable that Christianity should meet the case of the earnest, thinking, and questioning spirits. Sad, indeed, would be a system that should leave them out-not only because of what they are in themselves, but because they surely, though insensibly, move the general mind, and largely shape its faith.

But further, granting that the mass of men are to receive the gospel on trust and without minute and personal investigation, of what sort does this trust need to be? Shall it be like that which the Roman Catholic feels when he sees the eyes of the Virgin wink, or the dry blood of Januarius flow? Not surely such as that. Shall it be then a certainty that miracles have been wrought in the past, as great as though the eye itself beheld them now? But this certainly differs from the other very little, and would be in the same way in danger of sinking into superstition.

No, a system of truth which shall indeed reach the great

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