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.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Childlike Confidence in God

Religious faith, like natural faith, has its appropriate objects; objects, which are in some way connected with religious experience. As natural faith is known in part, by attaching itself to natural objects; so one of the marks or characteristics of religious faith is, that it attaches itself to religious objects.

The facts, which we notice in children, furnish an illustration of what has now been said. The life of children, I suppose, may in general be regarded as a life of faith. Not of religious faith, it is true; but still of faith, of natural faith. It is interesting to see, though they know that they are entirely dependent for food, raiment, and a home, what entire confidence they repose in their parents; a confidence, which, in excluding doubt, banishes anxiety. Hence it is that they live in such simplicity and quietness of spirit; and in the language of Scripture, are “careful for nothing.” When the object of this state of mind is changed, and it is transferred from the earthly parent to God, it becomes religious faith. The existence of such faith not only constitutes God our Father; but those who exercise it, become, in the language of the Savior, “like little children.” They have the same simple-hearted confidence. Freed from the anxieties of unbelief, they leave their life and their health, their food and their raiment, their joy and their sorrow, in the divine keeping. The resemblance or analogy between the two states of mind, as represented in these two cases, is essentially complete. And yet one of them is to be regarded and spoken of as an instance of natural faith merely. The other is a religious faith.

I find, in the writings of Richard Cecil, an illustration of the view of the subject just given, which seems to me to be suitable to be introduced here.—

“I imprinted on my daughter,” this devout writer remarks, “the idea of Faith, at a very early age. She was playing one day with a few beads, which seemed to delight her wonderfully. Her whole soul was absorbed in her beads. I said—‘My dear, you have some pretty beads there.’ ‘Yes, Papa!’ ‘And you seem to be vastly pleased with them.’ ‘Yes, Papa!’ ‘Well now, throw them behind the fire.’ The tears started into her eyes. She looked earnestly at me, as though she ought to have a reason for such a cruel sacrifice. ‘Well, my dear, do as you please; but you know I never told you to do any thing, which I did not think would be good for you.’ She looked at me a few moments longer, and then summoning up all her fortitude — her breast heaving with the effort — she dashed them into the fire. ‘Well,’ said I: ‘there let them lie: you shall hear more about them another time; but say no more about them now.’ Some days after, I bought her a box full of larger beads, and toys of the same kind. When I returned home, I opened the treasure and set it before her: she burst into tears with ecstasy. ‘Those, my child,’ said I, ‘are yours, because you believed me, when I told you it would be better for you to throw those two or three paltry beads behind the fire. Now that has brought you this treasure. But now, my dear, remember, as long as you live, what FAITH is. I did all this to teach you the meaning of Faith. You threw your beads away when I bade you, because you had faith in me that I never advised you but for your good. Put the same confidence in God. Believe every thing that he says in his word. Whether you understand it or not, have faith in him that he means your good.”

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

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