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though he meaneth not so, too little of Christ, and too much stress laid on self-denial without Christ. Now that the narrative and sympathetic interest excited by a first perusal is over, we can see clearly that there is too much of self and too little of the Word in this good book. And it would hardly be right to let the strain of remark go forth, in which we have naturally written, without cautioning the reader to compare this book narrowly with the Bible, and let every man that peruses it bear in mind that there is no genuine holiness, however lovely or grave its aspect, but what comes from Christ as its source, and looks to Christ as its example, its end, and its aim.
FAITH IN GOD AND FAITH IN GOD'S WORD.
By Rev. George B. CHEEVER, D.D., Pastor of the Church of the Puritans, New York.
An Essay concerning the Nature of Faith ; or the Ground upon
which Faith assents to the Scriptures. By Rev. THOMAS HALYBURTON. London: Thomas Tegg and Son, 1835.
This admirable production of the eminent divine in whose works it is printed, is worthy of being put in a separate volume for special circulation. It was, however, written with a particular reference to the views of Locke in his philosophy. The opinion of the Rationalists about Faith, said Halyburton in his title page, is proposed and examined, especially as it is stated by the learned Mr. Locke, in his book of the Human Understanding. We shall not, on the present occasion, enter into any analysis of this masterly essay, though we shall have cause to refer to it in the course of our remarks on a topic growing out of it, namely, the distinction between mere faith in God, and faith in God's Word ; the inadequacy of the first faith as a form of piety, and the necessity of the second to the vitality of the Missionary Enterprise, and of every good effort in our world.
There is a real and important distinction between the piety of mere faith in God, and that of faith in God's Word. At first thought one might be disposed to say that faith in God is the first and highest kind of piety; but not on examination. And it will be found that there is here a secret principle of distinction that really
separates and classifies developements in religion very distinct in reality, but often injuriously confounded and taken for one another. Faith in God, founded on and guided by His Word, is, indeed, the highest kind of piety ; it is the whole of piety ; it comprehends all. But faith in God, apart from, or not directed by His Word, is the lowest kind of piety, if indeed it can be called piety at all; it is delusive, it is spurious.
True faith must begin with God's Word. In proportion as it neglects that Word, or disesteems and disparages it, it degenerates, it becomes merely human, and not to be trusted. Just so, in proportion as it pretends to rise superior to that Word, it becomes spurious and corrupt; it may seem to be soaring to a great height above the common faith of Christians; but the higher it is above God's Word the more merely human it is; it is no longer faith in God, but in self, inflated. There is such a thing as a man using the Word of God as a sort of bellows to inflate self, like a balloon, with a gas which is found to be not the humility of faith but the pride of unbelief, or the unbelief of pride ; and that which thus seems to be begun by the Word of God, ends in soaring away from it. Even true faith in God is weakened just in the same degree, in which it is not confined to God's Word.
For we must not only possess and exercise true piety, but it must be within the circle that God traces, and according to the way-marks that He has set up. There may be a partial degree of true faith in God, consisting along with great laxness of view, and great positive error, in regard to God's Word. In some directions there may seem to be, and under some circumstances there may be, great attainments in piety, even along with the absence of that direct and supreme regard to God's Word, which constitutes the proof, as it is the consequence of true piety. Hence all models of that kind of piety, apart from God's Word, are dangerous, however much of good there may be in them. There may be circumstances, in which, from childhood, by the despotism of a particular system of error, or some poison in the work of education, there may have been inwrought in the mind low views in regard to God's word, or wrong views, or a great neglect of it; in spite of which, the Holy Spirit may have been pleased to make His divine abode in a chosen soul, and to educate that soul to great heights of love and faith personally ; nevertheless, the errors of the system may have exerted and may still exert, so great an influence, as to make the piety of such a person unfit for a model, unsafe as a guide ; so that it is to be regarded as a monument of the power and riches of God's grace, singular and adorable on the part of God, but not to be imitated or trusted in as an example.
There have been such models of piety from time to time
in the Romish Church. There has appeared great faith in God, great self-denial, and true Christian meekness and benevolence; but injured greatly, and rendered improper as a model, because of the neglect of God's Word, the mixture of errors woven into the soul's habits from infancy, and an almost idolatrous reference to entirely another standard of truth and faith than that which God has established in His Word; an idolatrous regard to the church and the fathers. We have to remark some of these erroneous influences even in regard to those admirable characters, Fenelon and Madame Guyon, Pascal and Thomas a Kempis. Under such circumstances there may possibly be great faith in God, and yet a marked and dangerous neglect of His Word, an absence of reference to it as the supreme and constant standard. How should it be otherwise, where the church is set up as the standard, superior to the Scriptures. Faith in the church, and in God through the church, not through the Scriptures, has always constituted the Romish type of piety, so far as there has been any piety in that communion. Selfabnegation for the church, self-absorption in the church, devotion to the church, self-denial, self-annihilation, as a work performed in and through the church, and a merit of and for the church, may present the appearance of great holiness, but may be the work of faith in man, not God. For all the collections of men in the world called the church do not cease to be men by being called the church ; and faith in the church, apart from God's Word, does not cease to be faith in mere man, not in God. It makes in some directions a persecutor, in others a personal enthusiast and founder of an order, like Loyola, and in general, it is the parent of individual superstition and fanaticism. Unless the Spirit of God, by a particular and remarkable operation of grace intervene, it poisons the fountain of kindness and gentleness in the soul, changes the authority of Divine compassion and love into a despotism of compulsion and penalty, and stamps savage cruelty to man as zeal for God. When the persecuted Madame Guyon appealed to Bossuet, telling him that she expected to have found in him a father; I am a father, said he, but a father of the church ! Tremendous revelation in this answer of the remorseless spirit of bigotry! A father of the church, and therefore an unrelenting jailer or scourger of the lambs of Christ, who follow His guidance, and not the church. A father of the church, as the executioner, under her commission, of all who do not bow down to her despotism, thinking, feeling, acting, as she commands.
It is not strange that under the guidance of such a church, and from an education beneath its examples, true piety itself should be defective in regard to God's Word, and mingled with self-delusion, under the aspect of self-annihilation. The religion of what is called Quietism, has sprung from such a source. Where there has been true piety in it, it has been the teaching of the Holy Spirit repressed, distorted, and made to assume an unnatural shape by the teachings of the church. The church, not the Word of God, has been, as it were, the filterer, through which the piety of the soul has been strained. Or, to use another mode of illustration, the church has been thrown, like a rock, upon a tender growing plant, making it full of excrescences, and crooked, instead of smooth and symmetrical in the open garden of the Word. Faith in God has been perverted from its aliment, and turned from its guidance in God's Word. So educated, so repressed, so darkened, you find that type of quietistic piety referring not so much to the outward as the inward light, referring not so much to God's word, as to God, and God's will, in His providences, and in the soul. You find it much employed upon self, by the inward light, by the soul's interpretation of God's will; much employed upon self-abasement; which, indeed, is an admirable work, when self does not think that self performs it, but a very bad work when self takes to itself the credit of annihilating self; which, indeed, it never does openly, in so many words, but secretly, under a very subtle self-delusion, all the while referring all things to God's will. God's will, instead of God's Word, is consulted, and God's will by the inward life and light, instead of the shining of the Word.
And if this be the habit of the soul, it may very easily proceed to the consultation of God's will in the soul exclusive of God's Word. God's will may seem to be enthroned in the soul, where God's Word is not. God's will is a very general thing, and a very general theme of meditation. God's Word is very definite and binding. God's will, as interpreted by the soul, is very loose and indefinite ; God's Word holds the soul down to particulars. Faith in God's Word may imply and require the submission of one's own will to God, in cases in which mere faith in God might persuade the soul to a conclusion right contrary to his Word. Hence, Christ says, “ If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you.” MY WORDS,— It is not enough to stop with Christ in the soul, Christ's WORDS must reign, definite words, distinct and known utterances, as the supreme rule. Take, for example, such a case as Abraham's. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Mark the phraseology; he believed God; it is not said merely, by the apostles, that he believed in God, or rested on God, but he believed God. That is, he believed just what God had spoken to hira, he believed God's Word, not his own ideas about God's will. Had he looked to God's will, as interpreted by the light in his own soul, and exercised faith merely in God, but not in God's word, or faith in God, not bound and guided by his word, he would have said, “ God's
will can never be the slaying of my son Isaac;" it is impossible. But Abraham believed God. All who truly believe God's Word, both believe God, and believe in God; but all who profess to believe in God, do not believe Grd, for they do not believe God's Word. “He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar," says John, “because he believeth not God's record, the record that God gave of His son.” If you would believe God, or believe in God, you must believe the record, the revelation, distinct, definite, in well known words. Without that, the belief in God may be very much in a God of your own imagination ; but the belief of God, the belief of God's word, is the belief of what God declares concerning bimself; not what your particular soul meditates or concludes concerning Him. There are those who believe in God, and in God's love, in such a sense, that they are very sure that all men will be saved, and that no sinner can ever be eternally miserable. This is believing in God, in one sense, but not believing God. This, is believing in God according to the in ward supposed light of the soul, not the outward light of the Scripture.
Faith in God may be merely human, but faith in God's word is divine. A degree of faith in God we doubt not is constitutional; no man is born into the world and grows up without it. But faith in God's Word is the work of God's Spirit. Faith in God's Word, and that faith in God which springs from His Word, as the seed of it in the soul, is the spring of all power. There can be no true faith in God not founded in and springing from his Word. Since Christ came, no man cometh to the Father, or knoweth the Father, but by Him; and of him the Word is the only revelation. Mere faith in God, or the conviction that God is, and that He judges his accountable creatures, to which degree of belief nature herself may rise, must be, with fallen creatures, mostly, if not merely, fear. But faith in God's Word receives God as revealed in Christ, and beholds in Him a forgiving God, and when perfected in love, casteth out fear. Belief in God may be a bondage, like the faith of devils; belief in God's Word is a child-like, filial trust in God's attributes; it is the belief of love, the exercise of the heart. It is neither constraint by conscience, nor compulsion by
. mere argument. It is the spontaneous synthesis of reason and the affections, of logic and love, seeing God in His Word, knowing God, through His Word. It knows God because it sees, hears, knows, the Word. It hears and knows the Word, because it knows God. “ My sheep hear my voice. I know my sheep, and am known of mine." A stranger's voice will they not hear, but the voice of the Shepherd they distinguish and know. It is a sensitiveness, a delicacy, a positive knowledge of the heaven-taught soul, which might be called a spiritual heavenly instinct.