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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Faith is the Wellspring of Literature

Faith is the basis, or rather is the source, the wellspring of whatever is most valuable in literature. Where there is no faith, it results unavoidably, that there is no true feeling, no genuine “emotionality,” no deep and abiding sympathy with whatever is true in morals, or beautiful in nature. In other words, a man without faith is a man, to a considerable degree at least, without true affection; one who looks upon nature and upon his fellow-men to trifle with them, and to sneer at them, and not to trust and to love them. Having no sympathy for others, he can command no sympathy for himself. The man without faith, therefore, in literature as well as in other things, is a man without abiding power; and we could almost say, that he is a man without any real power whatever, except, as in the case of Voltaire and others of his class, the power, which involves of course the faculty of a sharp external observation, of the mere artist, and the power of ridicule; neither of which either constitutes or implies the existence of those elements, which can command, for any length of time, the love and the homage of mankind. Such a man is no Homer, no Shakspeare, no Cervantes. He cannot with any justice be regarded as the possessor of that creative faculty, a faculty having its very life in belief, which can give birth to imaginary creations of men and nature, of thought and action; creations, which, in being true to life around and life within, are not the less real for being imaginary. He may understand perspective; he may be a connoisseur; he may be unexceptionable and complete in whatever is addressed to the outward eye, in whatever is comprehended under the term artistic; but his work, after all, will stand forth in the eyes of men just what it really is, a marble statue, well sculptured, well proportioned, and well in every other respect, except that the principle of life, the immortal spirit, is not there.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1853) Part 1, Chapter 2.

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