people try to put Feeling first, with as much success as if they tried to build
the top story of a house before laying its foundations. Their order is
seek Faith first, without considering the Facts on which alone Faith and Feeling
can rest. They resemble the man, who desiring to get warm on a frosty night,
refuses to approach the fire which burns brightly on the hearth.
only possible order that will bring blessing and comfort to the heart is that
indicated in our title:
Facts, laid like a foundation of adamant.
Faith, apprehending and resting on them.
Feelings, coming, it may be at once, or after the lapse of days and months, as
us recall a few facts which may help us first to faith, and then to feeling.
is a fact that God loves each of us with the tenderest and most particular love.
You may not believe or feel it; the warm summer sun may be shining against your
shuttered and curtained window without making itself seen or felt within; but
your failure to realize and appreciate the fact of God's love toward you cannot
alter its being so.
is a fact that in Jesus every obstacle has been removed out of the way of your
immediate forgiveness and acceptance. God was in the dying Saviour, putting away
sin, bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, reconciling the world to
Himself. You may not believe this, or feel the joy of it, but that does not
alter the fact that it is so.
the peace was signed between the North and the South in the great American war,
there were soldiers hiding in the woods, starving on berries, who might have
returned to their homes. They either did not know, or did not credit, the good
news, and they went on starving long after their comrades had been welcomed by
their wives and children. Theirs was the loss, but their failure in knowledge or
belief did not alter the fact that peace was proclaimed and that the door was
wide open for their return.
friend may have paid all my debts in my native village, from which I have fled,
fearing arrest and disgrace. He may have done it so speedily that my credit has
never been impaired, or my good name forfeited. There may be all the old love
and honour waiting to greet me. He may have told me so; but if I still absent
myself, and refuse to return, my folly in this respect cannot undo those
beneficent acts, though it perpetuates my misery.
is a fact that directly a soul trusts Christ, it is born into Christ's family,
and becomes a child. There is no doubt about this. You may not feel good, or
earnest, or anxious; you may even be conscious of recent failure; you may be
spending your days under a pall of sombre depression; but if you have received
Christ, and have truly trusted in Him, you have been born again, not of man, or
of the will of the flesh, but of God (John 1: 12). You may be a prodigal or
inconsistent child, but you are a child. If you were wise you would take the
child's place at the Father's table, and enjoy His smile. They await you. But if
you still remain out in the cold, as the elder brother in the parable, you do
not alter the fact that your place is ready for you to occupy when you will.
is a fact that God takes what we give, and as soon as we give it. There is no long interval. When we let go, He receives. When we place
ourselves on His altar, we are immediately sealed as His. When we consecrate
ourselves, He accepts. The divine act is instantaneous. You may not be aware of
this, and continue giving yourself day after day. If you do, you burden yourself
with needless anxiety; you continue offering what is not now yours to give, and
you lose the blessedness of realizing what it is to be the absolute property,
chattel and slave of the blessed Master; but your mistake cannot alter the fact
that God took you at your word when first you made yourself over to Him in a
solemn act of dedication. "Shall our want of faith make of none effect the
faithfulness of God? "
is a fact that in Jesus Christ we are seated in heavenly places. We cannot alter
this. We may not believe it, or avail ourselves of all the privileges which it
implies, or enjoy the blessedness of nearness to Jesus; but such is,
nevertheless, our rightful position in the divine order. If we are united with
Jesus by by the slenderest strand of faith, we are as much one with Him as the
loftiest saints; and where the Head is, there is also the Body. In Him we died
on the cross, and so met the righteous demands of the holy law. In Him we lay in
the grave, and so passed out of the region ruled by the Prince of the Power of
the air. In Him we rose and ascended far above all might and dominion,
principality and power.
Satan under Christ's feet? In God's purpose he is under ours also. Are death and
the grave for ever behind Christ? So, in God's purpose, we have passed to the
Easter side of them both, and are to the windward of the storm. As far as their
sting or terror is concerned, they are like the Egyptians dead on the sea shore.
Has the great High Priest passed through the heavens within the veil? So, in the
purpose of God, we too have passed from the outer court into the Holy Place,
were we offer gifts, sacrifices, supplications, and intercessions for all men.
this may appear unreal and impossible, as the idea of being the bride of a
prince to a poor Cinderella, but is nevertheless our true position. These are
the facts of the eternal world, whether you avail yourself of them or not. There
are not a few cases on record of slaves starving in bondage because they would
not avail themselves of freedom; and of noblemen living a hard and difficult
life because they would not claim their rights!
is a fact that there is a share in the gift of Pentecost waiting for each member
of Christ. He received gifts even for the rebellious. To each grace has been
given. The promise of the Holy Ghost is to as many as the Lord our God shall
call. Without doubt you have a share in that infilling, that divine unction,
that marvellous power in service, which transformed the apostles from being
timid sheep to lions in fight. You may never have put in your claim, but there
is no grace that others have which you may not obtain. All thing are yours. God
has made over to you the unsearchable riches of Christ. Eye hath not seen, nor
ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, all the stores of grace and love and
power which are yours in Christ, accumulating for you in the Divine Deposit
Bank. It seems a thousand pities that you should live a beggar's life when such
wealth and power are yours; but if you persist in doing so, your folly and
blindness do not alter the fact that the fullness of God is yours in Christ.
are some of those facts, made known to us in the Word of God, which will conduct
us over the brook of turbid emotion to firm standing ground. Let us give up
worrying about our faith, or feeling the pulse of emotion, and come to rest on
them, assured that they are more stable than heaven or earth.
is more than Creed. In a creed we believe about a person or circumstance; but in
faith we repose our trust upon a person. We must not believe about Christ only,
but in Him, as Livingstone did, when on one occasion he was opposed at nightfall
by an army of infuriated savages, and was tempted to steal away in the dark; but
his eye lit on the promise, "I will be with you all the days, " and he
wrote, "I went to sleep because I knew it was the word of a perfect
gentleman." Do not believe about Christ, but in Him.
concerns itself with a person. We are saved and blessed by the faith that passes
through the facts of our Saviour's life to Himself. We rest not on the
atonement, but on Him who made it; not on the death, but on Him who died; not on
the resurrection, but on Him who rose, ascended, and ever liveth to make
intercession; not in statements about Him, but in Him of whom they are made.
a time the question is asked by the enquirer, "Have I the right kind of
faith?" It is a needful question, because there is a dead and spurious
faith which will fail us in the supreme crisis, as the badly tinned meats did
the Arctic exploration party, who on returning to their cairn of stores, found
them useless, and starved.
is one simple reply, "All faith that turns towards Jesus is the right
faith." It may bring no conscience rapture. It may be as weak as the
woman's touch on His garment's hem. It may be small and insignificant as a grain
of mustard seed. It may be despairing as Peter's cry, "Lord, save, or I
perish!" But if its deepest yearning be Christ, Christ, Christ, it is the
tiny thread which will bring the lost soul through subterranean passages, in
which it had been well nigh overwhelmed, into the light of life.
Faith reckons on God's Faith. In earlier life I used to seek after greater faith
by considering how great God was, how rich, how strong; why should He not give
me money for His work, since He was so rich? Why not carry the entire burden of
my responsibilities, since He was so mighty ? These considerations helped me
less, however, than my now certain conviction that He is absolutely faithful;
faithful to His covenant engagements in Christ, faithful to His promises, and
faithful to the soul that at His clear call has stepped out into any enterprise
for Him. We may lose heart and hope, our head my turn dizzy and our heart faint,
lover and friend may stand at a distance, the mocking voices of our foes suggest
that God has forgotten or forsaken; but He abideth faithful, He cannot deny
Himself, He cannot disown the helpless child whom He has begotten, because it
ails, He cannot throw aside responsibilities He has assumed. He has made, and He
I have gone to God in dire need, aggravated by nervous depression and heart
sickness, and said, "My faith is flickering out. Its hand seems paralysed,
its eye blinded, its old glad song silenced forever. But Thou art faithful, and
I am reckoning on Thee!" The soul loves to go behind the promises of God to
Himself who made them, as the wife needs not quote the pledges made by her
husband in the marriage service when she is sure of him, and feels the pressure
of his hand.
not trouble about your Faith; reckon on God's Faithfulness. If He bids you step
out on the water, He knows that He can bring you safely back to the boat. When
an Alpine guide takes you over a ragged piece of ice, he considers whether, in
the event of your utter collapse, He is not able to carry you through by the
strength of His iron grasp and sinewy frame. What iron is to the blood, that the
thought of God's faithfulness is to faith. "Sarah received power . . .
since she counted Him faithful that promised"; Abraham waxed strong through
faith, giving glory to God."
bears Fruit. It cannot help it, because it links the soul with Christ, so that
the energy of His life pours into it through the artery of faith, and, as it
comes in, so it must make a way for itself out. Fruit is (so to speak) forced
from the believing soul. Why does the lark sing? It cannot help it, because the
spirit of spring has been poured into its heart. Why does the branch bear fruit?
It cannot help it, because the life forces are ever pouring up from the root.
Why does a child run to meet its mother? It cannot help it, because its heart
has imbibed her nature. So the believer, united to Christ, receives grace upon
grace from His heart, and from the abundance of His indwelling his life speaks.
is not difficult to obtain faith like this. Put your will on the side of Christ
not a passing wish, but the whole desire and choice of your being. Be willing to
believe; or be willing to be made willing to believe. Lift your eyes toward
Christ. If you cannot see Him, look towards the place where you think He is.
Remind Him that He is the author of faith, and that it is His gift. Claim it
from Him, and reckon that in answer to your appeal He does confer this priceless
boon. You may not feel faith, but you will find yourself unconsciously thinking
of Christ, counting on Christ, going out toward Christ; and that engagement of
the soul with Christ is faith.
careful of the tender plant which has thus been planted within you. Give it
plenty of sunshine. Live outside yourself in the consideration of what Christ
is. Feed faith on her native food of promise, and let her breathe her native air
on the hills of communion. Treat all suggestions of doubt as you would questions
as to the fidelity of your dearest friend. Avoid the cold blast that sets in
from skeptical books and talk. Be sure to live up to your highest conceptions of
duty towards God and man. Your faith will be in exact proportion to your
obedience. lnability to trust almost always denotes some failure to obey. If
faith is faltering, ask yourself whether you have not dropped the thread of
obedience, and go back to the place where you lost It. Christian could not face
the lions till he had sorrowfully retraced his steps to the arbour where he
slept and had recovered his roll.
is pre eminently the receptive faculty. It not only reckons that God gives, but
it stretches out its hand to take. "As many as received him, to them gave
he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name"
(John 1:12). We receive the atonement from the Lord who died, and we receive the
abundance of God's grace from the Lord who ever lives, so that we reign in this
mortal life as we hope to reign when the heavens and earth have fled away, and
there is no more sea to divide us from our beloved (Rom. 5: 11, 17). The
beautiful garments are prepared, faith arrays herself in them.
armour hangs on the wall, faith girds herself in it. The water of life gushes at
her feet, but faith catches it up, as did Gideon's three hundred men. Faith thus
deals definitely with God. She does not simply see His gifts as the passer by
the jewels in the shop window, but she knows that all the regalia of God's
kingdom are hers, and she takes them as she will. She bears the voice of her
Father saying: "Thou art ever with Me, and all that I have is thine."
was not enough that God should give the land of Canaan by promise and covenant
to the chosen race. They had to go in to possess it, to put their foot down on
its soil, to till its acres, and to live in its rich products. So it must be
with the believer. He is first united with Jesus by a living faith, which rests
in Him as Saviour, Friend, and King; then he reckons that the Son of God is well
able to make him His joint heir of all His boundless wealth; and, lastly, he
learns the art of receiving and using the plenteous heritage, and year by year
presses the fences of his possession further back, taking in more and more of
that vast extent of territory which has been assigned to him in Jesus.
settler on the boundless continent of God's fullness in Jesus, get thee up into
the high mountain. Look northward, southward, eastward and westward, over the
lengths, and breadths, and depths, and heights of the love of God. It is all
yours from the river of Time which rises at your foot to the utmost sea of
Eternity. Be not slack to go up and possess the land, and to inherit all which
God has freely bestowed on you in the Son of His love.
a rule, Faith fruits in Feeling. "Being justified by faith, we have peace
with God . . . . and not only so, but we joy in God, through our Lord Jesus
Christ." "Believing we rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of
glory." When the prodigal returned, the father bade them slay the fatted
calf, saying: "Let us eat and be merry." There is relief from a heavy
burden of sin, the ecstasy of pardon, the light of the Father's face, the sense
of rightness, the calm outlook on the future. When the King comes to His own the
bells ring out their peals on the waiting air, as though intoxicated with
and blessed feeling is the effect of the Spirit's work on the soul. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . ." He is the
earnest of our inheritance, and though in our minority we cannot expect to enter
on the fullness of our heritage, we are privileged to enjoy its first fruits.
There are prelibations of the river of His pleasures, and stray notes from the
full chorus of bliss. When the Holy Ghost reveals the Bridegroom, the loving
heart is glad, even though the nuptials are not yet celebrated.
the lack of feeling does not always indicate we are wrong. There may be causes, as we have seen, which account for our depression.
It may be that Christ would teach us to distinguish between love and the emotion
of love, between joy and the rapture of joy, between peace and the sense of
peace. Or perhaps He may desire to ascertain whether we cling to Him for Himself
or for His gifts.
greet their father from the window, as he turns the corner and comes down the
street. He hears the rush of their feet along the passage as he inserts his
latch key in the door. But one day he begins to question whether they greet him
for the love they bear him or for the gifts with which he never forgets to fill
his pockets. One day, therefore, he gives them due notice that there will be no
gifts when he returns at night. Their faces fall, but when the hour of return
arrives they are at the window as usual, and there is the same trampling of
little feet to the door. Ah," he says, "my children love me for
myself," and he is glad.
Father sometimes cuts off the supply of joy, and suffers us to hunger, that He
may know what is in our hearts, and whether we love Him for Himself. If we still
cling to Him as Job did, He is glad, and restores comforts to His mourners with
feeling and you will miss it; be content to live without it, and you will have
all you require. If you are always noticing your heart beats, you will bring on
heart disease. If you are ever muffling against cold, you will become very
subject to chills. If you are you perpetually thinking about your health, you
will induce disease. If you are always consulting your feelings, you will live
in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. He that saves his soul shall lose
indifferent to emotion. If it is there, be thankful; if it is absent, go on
doing the will of God, reckoning on Him, speaking well of Him behind His back,
and, above all, giving no signs of what you are suffering, lest you be a
stumbling block to others. Then joy will overtake you as a flood. He will make
you sit at His table, and gird Himself to come forth and serve you.
We must be still before God. The life around us, in this age, is pre eminently
one of rush and effort. It is the age of the express train and electric
telegraph. Years are crowded into months, and weeks into days. This feverish
haste threatens the religious life. The stream has already entered our churches,
and stirred their quiet pools. Meetings crowd on meetings. The same energetic
souls are found at them all, and engaged in many good works beside. But we must
beware that we do not substitute the active for the contemplative, the valley
for the mountaintop. Neither can with safety be divorced from the other. The
sheep must go in and out. The blood must come back to the heart to be recharged,
and fitted to be impelled again to the extremities.
must make time to be alone with God. The closet and the shut door are
indispensable. We must lose the glare of the sunny piazza that we may see the
calm angel figures bending above the altar. We must escape the din of the world,
to become accustomed to the accents of the still, small voice. Like David, we
must sit before the Lord. Happy are they who have an observatory in their heart
house to which they can often retire beneath the great arch of Eternity, turning
their telescope to the mighty constellations that turn beyond life's fever, and
reaching regions where the breath of human applause or censure cannot follow!
is only in such moments that the best spiritual gifts will loom on our vision,
or we shall have grace to receive them. It is impossible to rush into God's
presence, catch up anything we fancy, and run off with it. To attempt this will
end in mere delusion and disappointment. Nature will not unveil her rarest
beauty to the chance tourist. Pictures which are the result of a life of work do
not disclose their secret loveliness to the saunterer down a gallery. No charter
can be read at a glance. And God's best can not be ours apart from patient
waiting in His Holy presence. The superficial may be put off with a parable, a
pretty story, but it is not given such to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of
We must be possessed by an eager desire. There is a difference between wishing
for a thing and willing it. In a single hour we may wish for a hundred differing
objects, and forget them. But how different from this is the fixed
determination, the settled purpose of the will!
lad catches sight of some equipment for his sport, the student of a precious
book, the lover of a rare and jewelled ornament which he covets for the one he
loves and in each case the will is wrought upon till it resolves to acquire at
any cost. Then privation and self sacrifice and delay are cheerfully
encountered. Nothing can extinguish or slacken the determination that follows
hard after its quest. So with us. We must hunger and thirst; we must be possessed
by strong and passionate desire; we must be resolved even to use violence to
take the Kingdom of Heaven. The expressions of Scripture are all so intense the
hart pants for the waterbrooks; Jacob will not let the angel go; the widow
troubles the unjust judge day and night. We too may have this strong desire if
we will let the Spirit of God produce it within our hearts. But the merchantman
must be bent on seeking and finding the goodly pearl. We must strive to enter
the strait gate. We must agonize (to use the Apostle's word) as the athlete for
We must have a promise in our hand. This is the true method of dealing with God.
Search the Bible for some holy word which exactly fits you case. It will not be
hard to find one, since it abounds with personal incidents, culled from every
conceivable variety of life. Then, when it has been discovered, and perhaps
borne in on you by the divine Spirit, take it with you into the presence of God,
or place your finger upon it as pass into the presence chamber with hushed and
reverent step. The promises are our inventory of possession, and our need should
make us look up for and claim the blessing intended to meet it.
Reckon on God. If you desire
spiritual gifts, not for your own gratification, but for the glory of Christ;
if, so far as you know, your heart is rid of evil, and your life of sinful
habit; if you perceive that the promise is for you, because you are not only a
son, but an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ; if you feel an eager
desire that God has instilled to lead you to this very point then open
your mouth wide, and believe that God fills it; unshutter every window, and
believe that the light enters; throw wide every aperture, and believe that you
have received what you needed and sought. According to your faith, it shall be
some moment of need, or when you least expect it, or when engaged in wonted
tolls, some glad consciousness of joy, or peace, or nearness to Christ, or power
over others, will be the evidence that you did receive.
We must care for others. No life can be blessed which is self centred, and shut
in, as the Dead Sea, by giant walls. The secret of having is giving; of learning
is teaching; of climbing to the throne is by stooping to wash the feet of the
disciples. Think more of others than yourself, and your own life shall be never
so rich and prosperous. "I Want I want I want Christians to go all over the
world, and spread the Gospel." These words, spoken with laboured breath,
were almost the last uttered by a beloved Christian worker.