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up all the weeds of bigotry by the roots. All staternents are partial and incomplete; therefore all statements are provisional and temporary. All creeds, all beliefs, must pass away, his own included. “We know in part, and we teach in part; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." This is what Paul says about his own teaching. It is not infallibly, absolutely, and forever true; only true in part, and one day to be swallowed up in larger knowledge. Meantime his followers imagine that their little ways of thinking and speaking are altogether and forever certain, so that whoever does not accept them "shall, without doubt, perish everlastingly.”
There is something solemn, something sad, in this decay and change of what men have believed; this passing away of beliefs and opinions in which they treasured their religious life. Sad it is to see the decline of great dynasties, the fall of mighty empires, — "Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, where are they? ” — but still more sad to stand on the summit of ecclesiastical history and see what worldwide doctrines have sunk in the fast-rolling current of years. Where is the great belief that Christ was soon to come outwardly in the visible heavens to judge the world in majesty and glory? This notion, once universal, sustained the souls of those who were persecuted for conscience' sake, and was comfort to the hearts of the noble army of martyrs. Yet it has gone, and gone forever. We now see
that Christ comes in the spirit of his religion, in the progress of mankind, in the emancipation of the slaves, in tender humanities toward the suffering. Wherever a new effort is made to soften the hard lot of the weak and the oppressed, that is the coming of Christ. He comes in the spirit of all philanthropies and humanities. When the blind are taught to see through the tips of their fingers ; when the deaf are made to hear by reading from the movements of the lips ; when the miseries of war are alleviated by the Sanitary Commission; when the poor are helped by co-operative associations; when Mr. Brace sends the children out of the streets of New York to happy homes in the West; when Aunty Gwynne takes little orphans to her warm heart; when our friends, Miss Botume, Miss Towne, Miss Bradley, and others go to teach the negro children at the South; when General Armstrong educates the Indians, - when thus the blind are made to see and the deaf to hear, and the dead in mind and heart are raised to life, that is known to be the real coming of Christ. The old belief has passed away, that a better one may take its place. The old belief was a compromise with Judaism, which taught that Christ's kingdom was of this world, one of outward power and splendor. It thought that Jesus is to come hereafter as an outward king, with visible poinp and splendor, though at present his kingdom is inward and spiritual. But now we see that Christ always comes by his spiritual presence in the mind and heart; that his joy is to reign in souls redeemed and sins forgiven; and that it would add nothing at all to his true glory to be made the visible monarch of the outward universe.
But the timid are alarmed at the sight of all these changes, and are afraid lest Christianity itself should pass away too.
“Is there anything certain ?” they ask ; "anything stable and firm, anything to which we may cling, any anchor that will hold ?” The apostle answers, Yes, three things, faith, hope, and love. Now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
There are many, I know, to whom faith seems much less substantial, much less permanent, than knowledge. They imagine it to be the same thing as credulity, something quite unscientific. Those who walk by faith are regarded as weak-minded people, who believe, not what is true, but what is agreeable. They are supposed to believe in God, Christ, and immortality, not on evidence, not because these are realities, but because such beliefs are comforting and pleasant.
But the truth is that faith is the very life of the intellect, the essential condition of all knowledge. All that we know rests on the solid foundation of trust. Trust in certain immutable convictions, confidence in the veracity of our own faculties, reliance on the corresponding veracity of our fellow
creatures, a profound faith in the stable order of the universe and the reign of universal law, — all this is faith, not knowledge. But without it knowledge were impossible. We must all begin by trusting our own faculties. We trust our senses. When we open our eyes and see the sun, the earth, the ocean, the faces of men and women, we believe that they are realities. This is an act of faith. When we hear the melodies of winds and woods and waters, the tones of affection, the words which bring to us comfort and peace, we rely on the reality of all this. Our senses may deceive us, yet we trust in them. We trust in our higher faculties; we believe the reports which consciousness gives to us of our own identity and personality, of the reality of right and wrong, good and evil, time and space, beauty, order, immortal truth. Thus faith is the foundation on which our knowledge rests, – faith in things unseen, behind and below whatever is seen.
All human action, all good endeavor, all the progress of civilization, is the work of faith. In the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews the writer says that “ by faith " Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the great heroes of Israel accomplished their noble deeds. So it has been ever since. By faith the Apostle Paul crossed the Ægean Sea, and went from Asia to Europe to convert a new world to Christ. By faith the missionaries of the gospel went among the savage Goths and Vandals with the same divine purpose, and saved Roman civilization from ruin. By faith, in later days, the Jesuits went among the North American Indians, and Livingstone among the African barbarians, not counting their lives dear, so that they might finish their course with joy. By faith Coster invented the printing-press; by faith Watt discovered the steam-engine, Stephenson the locomotive, Daguerre the sun-portraits. By faith Howard reformed the prisons; Wesley gave spiritual life to the lowest classes in England; Clarkson and Wilberforce abolished the slave-trade; Garrison and Abraham Lincoln put an end to slavery in the United States. By faith Dr. Howe penetrated into the darkness of Laura Bridgman's inind and carried knowledge there. By faith Channing, Bushnell, and Theodore Parker shook the pillars of irrational belief. By faith Robertson and Stanley gave a larger life to the Church of England.
Thus we see that faith abides, - faith in truths as yet unseen, in laws not yet discovered, in great realities outside of our present vision. All human knowledge, human endeavor, earthly progress, depends on faith that beyond what we know there is a great world of truth and good still to be discovered.
And this is, in reality, faith in God. For God is the eternal Truth, the omniscient Good. He is behind all things, before all things, and above all