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CHAPTER VII.

Divine Influence in the Production of faith.

We have already had occasion to speak, in no measured terms, of the malignant nature of unbelief, as it reigns in the heart of man. We surely have not erred in our estimate of its wickedness, nor is it possible that we should overrate the degree of active resistance which it offers to the entrance of the knowledge and grace of Christ. We could see it even in the distance towering in our path, and still more formidably does it present itself now, as we have come to the duty of faith in Christ. How shall this foul spirit be put out of the way? What remedy can be found for its baleful influence? What power can remove such an impediment to faith? If it were a mere weakness of the faculties of discernment, we might hope for sufficient improvement by their cultivation and exercise; if it were owing to a want

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of clearness and simplicity in the exhibition of the truth, then a little more patient effort to simplify and explain, might be crowned with success; if it were a ileticiency of evidence, the defect might be supplied by the discovery of new reasons for receiving the

Bible as the word of God. · But when the skillful surgeon probes a wound, and finds a hard, irritating substance firmly lodged far beneath the surface, he does not wonder that poultices and plasters, tonics and alteratives, have neither subdued the inflammation, nor relieved the pain. He may possibly heal the surface, but let him take care that he does not destroy the patient. Healing ointments are out of place here. It is better to let the wound fester and smart, than to heal it slightly. The cause of irritation, whether ball or splinter, must be removed, if necessary by the knife.

What shall we do with an unbelief arising from enmity to all that is good, excellent, and lovely? You cannot reason it away, for it is most unreasonable. You cannot charm it away, for the things that are most charming in themselves, are most uncharming and displeasing to such a spirit. Motive, argument, entreaty, and whatever else we mean by moral suasion, are all powerless here, except as one mightier than we, may condescend to use them. Truth is indeed the knife, “ sharper than any two-edged sword,” but we can only exhibit, we did not pro

duce, nor can we be said in any efficient sense to use it.

Faith is the easiest, and yet the most difficult exercise of the soul. In itself so simple and natural, that we act it unconsciously. When we believe at all, we generally do so without effort. Our minds are borne along into conviction by the force of truth. Instead of requiring a great exertion, we cannot help believing what we see to be true. It would be more than difficult not to believe.

The difficulty of faith lies not in the nature of faith, but in the nature of unbelief; or to speak more strictly, in the evil of the heart that lies back of unbelief, its ever active and exciting cause. The act of eating is so easy that one needs neither instruction nor assistance in it. It is an instinct. But see the sick man trying in vain to swallow a little morsel of most tempting food. What act may not become difficult, or even impossible, in the presence of a great obstruction ?

Let us not then be misunderstood, when hereafter we shall exhibit faith, in its own distinct nature, apart from any hindrance of unbelief or wickedness, as having no difficulty whatever; as an act of the mind, heart, and will, not differing in kind from those which the worst as well as the best of men, are constantly, unconsciously, instinctively putting forth. We shall not have forgotten, that “except a work of Christ be your constant, earnest, prayerful study. This is your only foundation. You know nothing till you know Christ. You may say, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty,” but “he that hath not the Son hath not the Father.” Lift up then your heart to God, and say, Othou glorious and eternal Father, who didst command the light to shine out of darkness, shine in my heart, to give me the light of the knowledge of thy glory in the face of Jesus Christ! O thou Divine Saviour, Son of God, equal with the Father, in whom is life, and whose life is the light of men, manifest thyself unto me in the glory of thine infinite nature, and in the fullness of thy perfect work. O thou gracious and infinite Spirit of truth, proceeding from the Father and the Son, take thou of the things of Christ, and show them unto me. Remove all blindness from my mind, that I may know the things that are freely given to me of God.

CHAPTER VII.

Divine Influence in tủe Production of faitý.

We have already had occasion to speak, in no measured terms, of the malignant nature of unbelief, as it reigns in the heart of man. We surely have not erred in our estimate of its wickedness, nor is it possible that we should overrate the degree of active resistance which it offers to the entrance of the knowledge and grace of Christ. We could see it even in the distance towering in our path, and still more formidably does it present itself now, as we have come to the duty of faith in Christ. How shall this foul spirit be put out of the way? What remedy can be found for its baleful influence? What power can remove such an impediment to faith? If it were a mere weakness of the faculties of discernment, we might hope for sufficient improvement by their cultivation and exercise; if it were owing to a want

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