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.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Importance of Faith

Such is faith considered psychologically or mentally; a principle, or rather a mental state, essential to the human mind; naturally and necessarily arising on its appropriate occasions; of which every one has the experience in the ordinary conditions and transactions of life, and of which consequently every one has a knowledge in his own consciousness; a principle, not always the same in strength, but existing in a variety of degrees, proportioned to the evidence presented before it.

And perhaps we may appropriately add in this connection, that there is no one of the natural principles of the human mind, which is more constantly operative and more important in its results, than natural faith is. I am aware, that this is not generally understood, and perhaps not generally admitted. And probably the reason of its not being so is, because faith is a principle which, in itself considered, attracts but little notice. We cannot doubt, nevertheless, that the statement is essentially true. We grant, that the state of mind, which we call belief or faith, is not, in general, so distinct in our consciousness, as some other states of mind. That is to say, it does not stand out quite so prominently, quite so distinctly, to inward observation. And we think we can see a reason for it. It is this. It seems to be the intention of nature, or rather of the wise and benevolent Author of nature, that we should give less attention to the act of belief, than to the object believed in. The fact, in the case under consideration, seems to be the same with what is known and acknowledged to exist in the case of those sensations, which connect us with the outward world. It is well known, in the case of these sensations, that the mind passes with rapidity from the inward state, which scarcely attracts any notice to itself, to the outward object, whatever it may be, which the inward sensation or state makes known to us. And in the same manner, the state of mind, which we denominate belief, fulfills the purpose, for which it is given us, not by turning the mind’s notice upon itself, but by passing on, if one may so express it, and by directing it towards the object believed in. With this remark in view, we repeat what has before been said, that there is no one of the natural principles of the human mind, which is more constantly operative, and more important in its results, than natural faith.

It is this remarkable principle, exceedingly simple in its nature but almost infinite in its applications, which, not only connects the soul with its own acts, but with almost every thing around it; with woods and waters and sun and moon and stars, which would be nothing to us, if they were not believed in; with men, whose existence is made available and desirable to us only by belief in their existence and by confidence in their character; with God himself, whom it is impossible to realize as God, except by means of faith. Annul this principle, so simple in its appearance and yet so wonderful in its results, and man becomes, by the law of his own nature, an isolated being; he is like a person thrown into the midst of the ocean without even a plank to rest upon; not only desolate and hopeless in himself; but with nothing to console him in nature or help him in humanity, or be his support and his “bread of life” in the Infinite Mind.

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

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