The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What Is Natural Faith?

All men have faith; but it cannot be said with truth, that all men have religious faith. All men have faith in something; but it is not true, that all men have faith in God. It is proper, therefore, to make a distinction, and to discriminate between religious faith and natural faith.

In order, however, to understand religious faith, it is desirable, as it seems to me, to understand something of the nature or character of natural faith. Our attention, therefore, is properly directed, in the first place, to the inquiry, What is natural faith?

And in the prosecution of this inquiry, an obvious remark here is, that faith, or belief, which is only another name for the same thing, arises within us naturally and necessarily, on its appropriate occasions. In other words, it does not depend for its origin on our volition; but it comes of itself. It does not depend, for instance, upon a man’s volition or his mere arbitrary choice, whether he shall believe in his own existence or not; whether he shall believe in his personal identity or not; whether he shall believe in the existence of an outward material world or not. In these cases, and in others like them, it is conceded, that he cannot help believing. The state of mind, therefore, which we denominate faith or belief, using the terms in the natural and not in the religious sense, exists in us by our very nature. It is not only there; but by the very constitution of our nature, it must continue to remain there, while man is what he is.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 1.

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