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to trust others, to rely on something exterior to himself, is a native, inherent, instinctive disposition. It is as much a part of the human constitution, as the appetite for food. It is almost as early developed as that appetite. The infant leans on its mother, trusts her kindness and protection, feels confidence in her fidelity, love and truth. Ask any mother, and she will tell you, that the little one has hardly found its way to the sweet fountain of her bosom, before it makes manifest how happy it feels. in trusting itself to her. As months proceed, this is more and more evident. The entire filial relation, the whole connexion, so beautifully arranged by God, between parent and child; the course and process of education, in which the inexperienced pupil submits himself to the guidance of his preceptor; what are these but instances of Faith? the instinctive reliance of the weak on the strong-of the young on the old? Follow the child up to manhood, it is still the Men are perpetually cast into situations in which they are wholly inadequate to provide for their own well-being, and they are compelled to surrender themselves to the advice and direction of others; and what is this but the exercise of Faith? Indeed, man's condition, as a social being, depends upon this principle. Without it, society could not exist; even families could not hold together. The bond of union is mutual confidence. So true is this, that men are always unhappy, when they have none in whom to confide. The most miserable wretch upon earth, is he who feels that he can trust no one, and who moves about among men, without knowing one on whom he can lean, and in whose friendship he may rely. So essentially does this disposition belong to human nature.
Now, Religion takes up this native disposition, this instinct, of the human soul, and uses it for the purpose of binding men to their highest relation, and securing for them their highest good. If the greatest advantages of the present life are to be gained by this natural Faith in the persons around us, and in the constitution of things, in the midst of which we are placed; so, religion asserts, the blessings of man's superior life and perfect happiness are to be secured by a similar confidence in the Lord of all, and the ordinances relating to His eternal Kingdom. The spirit of both worlds is the spirit of absolute unquestioning trust. We trust our sustenance, our comforts, our property, our lives, every day, to our fellowmen, just as truly and as fully as we are required in religious matters to give ourselves up by faith to God and Christ. Faith is the spring of all action; and as striking examples of "walking by faith" may be found in the conduct of temporal as of spiritual
affairs. The examples abound; and from out of the multitude which might be adduced, let us select one-the familiar case of a ship at sea. What is it, but one grand illustration of the reality and power of this native principle? You place yourself as passenger on board a ship, bound to another continent. You have never before been at sea; you know nothing of the principles of navigation; the whole process of managing the vast machine, and of ascertaining the course you are to run, is a mystery to you; you never before have seen the master, or had any acquaintauce with the men. Yet you trust yourself, ignorant and a stranger-you trust yourself without hesitation to that tossing barque, on the threatening waters; and you eat and sleep as quietly as if you had been familiar with them all your days. Thousands, every year, exercise this amazing faith in man and nautical skill, with a quietude of mind that would be thought madness if it were not so common.→ And this is the state of mind, not of the passengers alone, but of the seamen also. They know nothing of the science by which they are led; they go by Faith in their commander; they believe that he knows, and they trust themselves to his orders. And the Captain himself is but the child of Faith; he is putting reliance in the soundness of his ship, which he did not build, and does not know who did build it; in the accuracy of instruments, which he did not make, and does not know who did make them; and in the exactness of tables which he did not calculate, and does not know who did calculate them. Not one of that large company, thus cut loose from the land, and flying prosperously over the heart of the abyss, could be possest of any thing but terror, were it not for this confiding Faith. Take it from them, exchange it for distrust, for skepticism, for doubt-let the commander cease to believe in his tables and his instruments, and the crew and passengers in the fidelity and skill of the commander-and their composure would be turned into horror at once. Alarm and dismay would fill every soul with agony. They KNOW nothing, except that they are beyond the reach of all human aid; and this knowledge is stark despair, when their mutual Faith has departed.
Now I say, brethren, such examples prove to us, that Faith is an original instinct of the human mind, certain as knowledge, real as sense, and the constant guide of men in their ordinary affairs. Why not, then, in their spiritual affairs? Christianity demands nothing more implicit, more absolute, more extraordinary, than is demanded in the case just described. The Christian's reliance on the Savior is not more implicit, than that of the passenger on the governor of the ship; the sub
jection to his will and commandment in matters of uncertainty and peril, not more absolute; and the confidence in his promise, that all shall come right at last, and the soul reach its immortal haven in peace, not a whit more extraordinary, than your astonishing reliance on the seaman's promise on the ocean. In neither case do you know any thing, or lean upon yourself; each is alike a matter of Faith; you have given up yourself without reserve, to the control of another; you guide yourself by his directions; you walk by faith in him, and not by the sight of your own eyes, or the counsel of your own mind.
In each case, too, there is the same ground of confidence; namely, the experience and testimony of other men. It is what you have learned from those who have tried the skill of the master and the safety of the sea, not your own acquaintance with them, which induces the confidence you repose in them. And you have equally strong and decisive testimony from those who have tried it, of the excellent power of religious truth, and the security and peace of those who follow Jesus. The testimony comes to you from a cloud of witnesses, of every age and station, of every character and fortune— thousands and tens of thousands-who have given themselves up during this perilous voyage of their being, to the absolute guidance of the great Captain of their salvation, and have found safety, joy, and peace.
Therefore, brethren, the grand plea for hesitancy and irreligion which was mentioned, is taken away. Men have no right to say, that they do not KNOW these things to be true, and do not SEE that they are real. This is nothing to the purpose. They have evidence of things not seen; they have grounds of Faith, as sure as Knowledge; such as they act upon in all other affairs-and such as they neglect in these at their peril.
The uses to be made of the great doctrine thus expounded, are too numerous to be now adverted to. I pass them all by, to notice one only-that which the apostle himself suggests in the passage from which the text is taken; the application of the doctrine to man as mortal and accountable. He has been speaking of the certainty of death, and explains how serenely and exultingly the believer rises above its fear; through the operation of his Faith, he is "confident, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord;" and not only so, but to labor in the way of duty, so as to be accepted of him, and be prepared for the judgment seat. This is the application of the doctrine of faith with which the text stands. connected; always a seasonable one, always pertinent. For
death is always near us, judgment is ever at hand. Not a day, not an hour, but shows to us our exposure to peril, and warns us by the uncertainties of earth to secure the substantial treasures of Heaven. It is well, when every thing about us is uncertain, to feel that there is one thing certain; when all here is mortal, to believe that there is a world immortal. When trials, disappointment, and fears would alarm and agitate us, it is well to have that confidence in a Supreme Disposer and the glorious truths of his revelation, which shall impart composure to our spirits, and keep them in peace amid the storm.When death approaches-with slow menaces perhaps and shuts up the sufferer in his lonely chamber, with no prospect before him, but the dark and straight path to the tomb-it is well for him, if he believe in immortality, if he have trust in the doctrines of Jesus Christ, if he can forget the'present in the future, and be willing to quit the body, that he may be present with the Lord.
Brethren, all these trials, and various others, in some form and at some time, await us. How shall we be prepared for them? Not by our success in the world; not by the comforts and luxuries of our homes; not by our learning, or wealth, or honor, or friends, alone. Miserable comforters are they all, in the hour of extremity. Faith it is which gives power; Faith only, to meet, to bear, to conquer the diversified calamities of our lot. Every thing that earth has, we know, will be torn from us; Faith bestows on us more than a compensation for them all. Life is short; Faith makes it everlasting. Death is certain; Faith changes it to immortality. For, as Jesus died and rose again, even so them also, that sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. Therefore, let us walk, not by Sight, but by Faith-looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; "for the things which are seen, are temporal; but the things which are not seen, are eternal."