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upon it ?
after the will of God, in what he is about to do; and not what is wise and expedient? Who seeks first the kingdom of God, and God's rule of righteousness, and trusts that all temporal good consequences will follow
it? Who is there who thinks and abides only by the rule of what is right and commanded? We may almost answer in the words of Scripture, “ There is none righteous, no, not one." Who believes in and trusts to the assistance and suggestions of the Spirit in his designs and undertakings, and believes and acts and writes and thinks as believing, that the most useful and important and influential suggestions of our thoughts and invention, come to our mind by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, more than by our own cleverness and exertion and memory; and prays for Divine help upon commencing every task, or writing, or undertaking, accordingly.* Who forbears strictly, and endeavours to expel at once all thought, and every suggestion of the mind in worldly matters on a Sunday, with confidence and faith that the same and more useful thoughts will be supplied on the succeeding week days; and that the unqualified dedication and sanctification of the Lord's Day will make the labour of the six days more effectual and fruitful than would be that of the seven ? Who would believe now that a Sabbatical year would not necessarily be impracticable and ruinous; or
* “On prioit en commençant à bâtir une maison, ou à l'habiter, à faire une pièce d'étoffe, ou un habit, ou à s'en servir, et ainsi de toutes les autres choses les plus communes.”—Fleury, Mæurs des Chrétiens, pt. 1, s. 5. “ The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.”—Prov. xvi. 1.
that a populous country could exist under such a rule; or that it would not produce a debasing and demoralizing idleness?
To mention a few more subjects, though further examples seem to be almost unnecessary. We no longer believe and obey the precept, to use the rod to the child ; for that we shall save his soul by so doing. * Now we have discovered and believe that such correction is against the dignity of human nature, and is injurious and degrading to the character. The commandment, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed,” is not now respected. We find various reasons and excuses which render it not imperative; and in wholesale political murders in general, it is now, as of course, acknowledged that capital punishment ought not to follow, for that enough blood has already been shed. Again, who can bear to believe now, that St. Paul was mean-looking and not eloquent? Who believes that Solomon was really the wisest man that ever lived, and respects and studies his writings accordingly, more than those of other teachers of prudence and wisdom? Who believes practically or theoretically, that riches, honour, and life, come by the fear of the Lord, and humility ?4 It may
be well to mention here two or three cases and examples just to show what faith is, lest it should by disuse have altogether lost its meaning.
It would have been faith in the Jews for all the male population to have gone up three times a year to Jeru
* Prov. xiii. 24; xxiii. 13, 14.
salem, not fearing that their affairs must necessarily go wrong while they were away, or that their enemies might invade them : according to the promise given them in Exodus, xxxiv. 24. It would have been faith in them, not to have sown on the seventh
believing that the six years would then produce an abundance for them. It was faith, not to gather of the manna more than the food of one day, though they had no other store or reserve, or remedy against hunger ; and to gather double on the day before the Sabbath, not fearing that, as on other days, it would stink and become corrupt. It is faith in the working-man, who lives from hand to mouth, and is always cheerful, and trusts that God will give him his next day's meal.* It was faith in a poor woman who gave away her last sixpence, saying that she knew that God would return it her. It would be faith in a man, when he found that his affairs had prospered, and that his returns were large beyond his expectation, to consecrate a considerable portion in charity, saying that, God will provide ; and feeling that in so doing he was making more than by investing the whole of it. It is faith to believe that our successful efforts, that our clever thoughts, and answers, and inventions, and writings, and acts of memory, are from God; and that we shall prosper more in them for depending upon his assistance; and pray accordingly for it, on the commencement of every undertaking or act however small, and upon every occasion.
* As Henry Wm. Wilberforce says, it is only the poor man who can pray with real meaning, “ Give us our daily bread.”-Parochial System, p. 72.
It would be faith in a nation, to forbid all trading and labour on Sundays and other holy days, except where necessity and mercy require them; to discourage luxury and extravagance, and immoral trades and practices, however seemingly prejudicial to trade and commerce; believing that it would result in the real increase and advance of prosperity in the nation.
The prevailing want of faith in religious truth and precepts, concurs with a general sceptical disposition in other matters and evidences. We mistrust one another. We set aside whole authors as false and worthless, on occasion of some one or two subjects of doubt-as Herodotus, Bruce, Du Halde, Baronius, and most writers of a different sect or party or school of philosophy from ourselves. The result of such a practice is ignorance and credulity in the greatest measure, independent of the error and bigotry and impenetrable conceit, which are the more obvious fruits of such a system.
Not to enter again upon the denial of the Scriptures, and the number of passages and relations which must needs be subjected to forced interpretation, in order to suit them to our present belief, and the experience of the existing generation-as, the sons of God, giants, God walking upon the earth, witchcraft, demoniacs— disbelief of matters of history and fact, and consequent ignorance, has been the characteristic of the last century; and the credulity of the same period has of necessity run parallel with its ignorance : for the following
The rejection of the entire writings of an author, upon the ground of certain erroneous parts of them,
proceeds upon the supposition that men's works are uniform ; and that faulty statements or reasoning, in some parts and passages, are conclusive against all the rest, and disqualify them from being a fit study or authority. This is founded upon an entire mistake, and ignorance of human nature, the first quality of which is imperfection, and want of consistency and uniformity. But the belief that a whole author is to be rejected on account of certain imperfections and blemishes, is necessarily accompanied with the idea that there are some authors which are perfect; and the consequence is, that those books and writings which are approved and admitted to favour, are embraced with an entire confidence and ardour of belief, and as free from all suspicion and imperfection. Such works and authorities are received with a respect and confidence quite beyond their merit, and with a credulity approaching to worship. Even sceptics cannot but believe some things to be true; or at least they must follow something, and trust to it as if they believed in it. Therefore rebels against authority and power, and political apostates, follow their party leaders and demagogues blindly, and with an abject servility. In snatching at entire liberty they fall into perfect slavery. Those who mistrust and rebel against the authority of the Church, place their implicit reliance upon some master of their own choosing, and submit themselves under the power of so many unauthorized popes. Those who assert an entire liberty of private opinion, and conscience, and reason, to the deposing of Scripture truth and the authority of revelation, worship all of them some of their fellow contemporary