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stand the tests of time and truth; and judging by such a standard, it will one day be seen, that to possess great strength of muscle, or prowess as a conqueror, or the one-sided elongations of eccentric genius, or to be a storehouse of knowledge, or a magazine of energies, is not to possess greatness as a man.
We must not be deceived by monstrosities, by power striking out of its orbit, or genius perverted to an evil end. But, together with force and capacity, man's powers must have a central principle to direct and harmonize their action-something, which, as it kindles them all to a deep and fervid glow, shall, amid their intensest workings, hold a firm and steady balance, and move the whole man with stedfast energy right toward the end for which he was made to live. This is true greatness; and faith alone can produce it. But faith in what?
Mere natural faith, or faith in an earthly object of ambition, or in man or nature, or a principle, has great power. The capacity for it proves the superior dignity of man. Unlike the animal, he does not live in mere objects of sense. By acquaintance with a few of these, he learns hidden laws and universal principles, on whose stability he rests with perfect assurance, anticipating the future and grasping the unseen.
Not like the bird of passage which journeys to distant climes only by bodily movement, and impelled by the proclivities of instinct, he travels on in the silence of thought. Cauriously, at first, he moves along the steps of a limited experience; but soon, by conclusions which overstep the limits of personal knowledge, or by intuitions which take no note of space or time, he passes out on the chain of rational principles beyond the sweep of the remotest star, or the slow cycles of the ages. His whole life is a life of faith-faith in some object as meeting his wants-in plans for obtaining it-in principles as the basis of his plans. In fact, his objects of faith determine his character. If he trust in one of earthly ambition, and in his own competence to gain it, he will have the inflexible energy of selfreliance, and become a hero. If he trust in another man, it will inspire loyalty for his chieftain, and an enthusiasm which will render a few thousand invincible as the legions of Cæsar. If he have faith in a principle, he will have the intrepid daring of a Columbus, the prophetic vision of a Le Verrier, the world-wide grasp of a Newton, or the firm assurance of a Galileo, and though proscribed and imprisoned by his generation, he will calmly await the triumph of truth and justice in a wiser age. Such faith, modest but unshaken, has something sublime. the basis of what men call greatness. Sooner or later the world does homage even to the intellect, which sees beyond the horizon of other men, and stretching the gaze beyond the boundary of demonstration, grasps the unseen but certain results of faith in elementary principles and invisible laws. Mere natural faith is
not to be despised. Now, what this is to the highest achievements of an earthly ambition, faith in the gospel is to the true greatness of man. This alone can furnish the three elements, which together are essential to its existence—the broadest views for the intellect, the loftiest aims for the heart, and the strongest molives for the will.
1. First the gospel opens the most comprehensive views for the intellect. True, the mere naturalist has the universe to range in! But he may travel far and see but little. Comprehensiveness of view does not respect the mere surface over which the eye may sweep, but, also, the various kinds and departments of knowledge which one may understand in the moral as well as in the natural world. The mere mathematician may revel in problems which respect number and magnitude, and be dead to the inspirations of poetry, the beauties of art, the enjoyments of social life, and to those profound and solemn problems which address the moral nature of man. The heart has to do with the discernment of the best and greatest truths. The intellect alone cannot know them. They are spiritually discerned.
Nor does largeness of view respect the mere number of facts understood in all departments; but also their dependencies and relations. A mere encyclopedist of facts, a capacious reservoir of items, with no key to their meaning, no central principle by which to link them into the unity of a system, has no comprehension of what he knows. Newton could point. the telescope to every star, and map down before him the constellations of the heavens; but while ignorant of the one law which governs and systematizes all material bodies, he knew but little of the heavens. He could not grasp the grand idea of their system, and all else was but a superficial knowledge of unintelligible facts. So when men look, as philosophers merely, on the affairs of this world, its sciences, the history of human society, the nature of man, the course and laws of his destiny, on the general scope and aim of this world's phenomena, a mist seems to cover the scene, and chaos to be its ruling spirit. But when they enter with a heart quickened by faith, into the deep significance of the gospel, a new and governing law flashes on their consciousness; a moral centre appears, around which all the forces of this world gravitate, and all the facts of its history cluster. The ebb and flow of the ocean's currents are not more subordinate to the course of the moon that hangs above them, than the setting tides of this world's affairs are to the course of the Divine plan for human redemption. We may not see the swell and the course of its every wave as it crosses and jostles in the conAlict of the elements : but we have the key to their movements and the law of their storms. An intelligent faith in the gospel, and that alone, places one on a position high enough to see that all its separate currents and counter-currents are lost in the general lift.
ing and flowing of its depths toward the light and power of Divine love in the plan of redemption. From that position, we see that the world exists for a moral end; that the gospel is the Divine plan for attaining it; and that toward this history and science, civilization and government, the affairs of nations and individuals, are continually shaping themselves, under the hand of Him who setteth up one and pulleth down another, and who, in the blotting out of a continent, or in the fall of a sparrow, has an equal reference to the triumph of a kingdom which is not of this world. The gospel, therefore, is the only clue to this world's history, the only law of man's progress, the only just measure of his immortal interests. And he who will not look through it as a glass, putting to it the eye of faith, can have no comprehensive view of past, present, or future ; of this world or the next. Every step is into the mazes of conjecture, or a plunge in the dark. The world has no clear, glorious significance. It is without form and void, and darkness covers the face of its depths. But when the eye of faith opens intelligently upon the scheme of redemption, it is like sunrise upon the earth: it is rather a new creation. God has said to the blind, groping spirit, “Let there be light.”
, But the gospel not only pours light on human society, the nature and destiny of man, crystallizing into order and shape the facts of this world's history; it opens something of the vastness of Divine plans for the moral creation. At least, it unfolds the principles of a universal moral government; it breaks through many a cloud that was round the Almighty's throne, revealing its foundations in justice and judgment, and it throws a thousand-fold radiance around Him who sits thereon, the highest, greatest object of thought for man or angel.
What is the range of natural science, ennobling as it is, when it does not merge itself into the higher science of the spiritual, to which all that is material is but the shell to the kernel, the scaffold to the building, the shadow to the substance? And what is the scope of that mind which is cognizant of only natural objects and laws, with no appreciation of spiritual truths in the vastness of their relations, with no enlarged view of the moral governinent of the world, and without a glimpse of the chief glories of Him “of whom and for whom and to whom are all things?” Mere systems of natural science cannot open this wider, loftier range in the moral world. The gospel is the only vista through which man can look into it; and there is no summit lofty enough to command the glorious prospect but the summit of gospel faith.
2. Faith in the gospel inspires the loftiest aims for the heart. There is great excellence in comprehensive views, in knowledge ; but it is inferior to another principle, the fruit of faith, which is love. “Though I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, I am nothing." Knowledge is valuable as an
instrument of the heart : it is ennobled according to the end to which it is directed. What should we think of a Newton directing all his intellectual resources to the manufacture of a pin? Or all his intellectual and moral wealth to the ambitious projects of a Napoleon ? In the former, he might have been usefui: in the latter, renowned ; but in neither, great. It were no proof of greatness in the Czar of the Russias, should he plant himself on the Bosphorus, and with one hand clutch the dominions of Asia, and with the other the empires of Europe. Mere self-aggrandizement is not an end at which greatness aims. That end must lie in the direction of man's noblest aspirations; in the spiritual and eternal. Power crumbles. Wealth consumes. Fame is a breath. One and all they have no alliance with anything permanent. They can but feed a passion, or perfume a sense, or adorn a grave: and the meanest can have them all. Every intelligent mind knows the vanity of a mere temporal end for an immortal being. There must be consistency in a great mind; harmony between its convictions and its aims. The understanding and the heart must not fall out by the way. They were both made for God. They can rest only in Him; and together, they must move towards Him. The intel. lect climbs up to Him as the one Eternal Cause, naturally as the wandering child goes up the stair-way to its paternal home. The heart too, wander where it will, finds not its rest till it ascend in the same direction, and repose in the same object. And furthermore, as the mind takes its expansion from what it contemplates, so the heart does its character, from what it loves. And as God is the greatest object for the mind, so is he the best object for the heart: as he therefore who knows him best will have the greatest thoughts, so he that loves him best will have the noblest character : and to such the excellence and the blessedness of that love is the highest aim for the heart.
But " No man cometh to the Father but by me.” The union of a guilty soul with God, is only in the way of his appointment; by faith in his Son. “This is the record that God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." His death is the ground of the sinner's hope; his character is the model which he is to copy : and as that model is taken up into the life of the soul, the soul is received into union with God. And in that union, where are full confidence and affection, the life of conscious favor and of conscious love, is at once the noblest excellence and the highest blessedness of a rational creature. No aim can be higher. The love of God is the love of all perfection and of all being; for everything is his. Seen by affection's eye, quickened and illuminated by faith, the universe is ennobled. The heavens shine with a holier lustre; the sea swells with a grander harmony: the earth wears a more attractive loveliness; and even man, degraded as he
is, becomes the defaced image of God, and the purchase of his son. Every object is transformed and ennobled by faith.
Thus we see faith sustains the same relation to the expansion and elevation of the heart, that it does to the enlargement of the mind. In the one case, it widens the range of vision and, shows objects in the harmony of their just relations : in the other it bathes the whole prospect with a warm sunlight, tinging every object with the colors of heaven. What before formed an image in the mind, now kindles a response in the heart, and these two powers, no longer at variance, move on together with the same enlargement; for what the one beholds, the other loves; and no longer chained to the little center of self, they range the universe in freedom, circling in the light, and dwelling in the “ fullness of him who filleth all in all."
But there is another aim which faith awakens; it is to do, as well as to be. The soul that is quickened to the love of God, has begun to breathe the elements of that new life which is by his Son. With wonder it surveys the glory of that scheme, by which itself has been brought into fellowship with God. That same scheme can renovate å fallen, suffering world. If it cannot change its surface, and send running streams through earth's deserts, and smooth its rough hill-sides to become vocal with flocks, it can lead the waters of a better life through its moral wildernesses, till the wastes of human character shall blossom with all the virtues, and the very air be sweet with their breath, and jubilant with praise : till it can be said, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men. Nay, till a great multitude which no man can number shall have gained complete redemption, the repose of perfect confidence, and the bliss of perfect love, in heaven.-It is a vast scheme, embracing the world, and reaching its main results into the future. It is deep in wisdom, suited to every want of man. It is accomplished too with the most glorious display of Divine perfections before the universe.
To such a scheme, faith has introduced the believer. He surveys its greatness. He kindles with its excellence, and forgets henceforth the low, self-seeking ends of earth. Now he can embrace other and higher interests; and from his newly quickened heart, warm with its fresh impulses, he breathes out to his Saviour,
“I love thy kingdom, Lord.”
He knows no higher end for which to live, no nobler end for which to die. In cheerful consecration, he brings to his Redeemer the thank-offering of his life, and recognizing in his kingdom the choicest purposes of God, and the dearest interests of man, he says :