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things. We do not see him, but faith leads directly and inevitably to him.
Thus faith is like the primitive granite of our New England. Dig down deep and you come to it, below all superimposed strata. Go to the summit of the highest mountains and you find it, on the loftiest elevations. Faith begins as the basis of the infant's knowledge; it ends in leading us to know God, Christ, and immortality. Thus it abides with us always, the constant companion of our discovery and our knowledge.
And the child of faith is hope, equally immortal. Why do we believe in progress ? Why do we try to make the world better? Why do men expect to improve their condition? It is because God has placed within the human heart this boundless expectation of something better tomorrow than we have to-day. The best evidence that there will be progress
in this world and in the world to come is this, that hope is an abiding element in human nature. On this instinct rests, in a large degree, our belief in immortality, and a reunion with the loved and the lost in some better world beyond. And it is no delusion, no mere imagination, born of empty wishes. It rests on an immutable, unchangeable law of human nature planted in the soul by the Creator. It is more convincing than any argument, more reasonable than the most subtle logic. It says, “O death, where is thy sting? where is thy victory ?”
“Upon the frontier of this shadowy land
With forests green and deep,
With valleys hushed in sleep,
But best and most blessed of all abiding things is love. Love is the spirit of life, and makes all things live. Without love, life is not worth living. It is in the first look of intelligence which we discover in the infant's eye; it is in the last feeble pressure of the hand of the dying. Nothing is so real as this; it alone has solidity, substance, and essential being. Selfishness is not enduring; in its very nature it destroys itself. The selfish man is only half alive. He sits alone, in a cold isolation of soul.
In all religions the most essential part is love. Christianity is the highest of all, because it sums up its whole law in these two articles, “Love God, and love man." Jesus does not say,
“ Believe this and that about God, about me, about sin and salvation.” But he says, “Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself.” And amid all the changes of creeds, the strife of parties, the reforms and revolutions of the Church, this has been one of the unchanging factors. No heresy ever denied love; no papal decree ever denounced piety and humanity. Amid all these storms love continued; love had its abode in many an humble home, in
many a meek and trusting heart. In the hardest and most cruel days love prompted men and women to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, redeem the slave, cleanse the leper, and bring comfort to the forlorn.
Love abides. This is the very essence of Christianity, the soul within its soul. And this blessed gift comes direct from God. When the poor woman knelt at the feet of Jesus, he said, “She loves much because she has been forgiven much." Love is born out of our sin when we look to God for pardon, and find his comfort and peace descending into our heart. “ We love him because he first loved us.” There have been forms of Christian belief which represented God not as the universal Father, but as the inflexible Judge, who dooms to everlasting woe myriads of the creatures he has himself created. We cannot love such a being as this. Therefore the Church sometimes has substituted as the objects of its affection the Christ who took pity on our woe and came to redeem us, and the Blessed Virgin, who was represented as still more merciful than Christ.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The hour cometh when it will be seen that God is the best friend we have in the universe, and that he wishes us to trust in him always, and to pour out our souls before him.
These, then, are the unchanging, unalterable facts of Christianity Faith is the foundation : faith in God as an infinite Friend; faith in Christ as the way, the truth, and the life; faith in ourselves as the children of God, whom he loves, and who, therefore, must have something in us worth loving. And hope, always reaching forward, seeking, praying, working for a kingdom of heaven to come below, for a kingdom of God to begin here and continue hereafter. And love, the bright consummate flower of human life, that which is essentially and forever divine, which makes us one with God and at peace in our own souls. Faith is the foundation on which our knowledge rests; Hope is the motive-power urging us forward from good to better; and Love the heaven within, which makes a heaven around us evermore.