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Man so formed that he must have faith in something. The precise rule or principle applicable to our faith in man. We may trust in men so far as they have God in them and not otherwise. Results of faith in God compared with the results of faith in men.

IN remarking on the relation of faith in God to faith in the creature, it will be kept in mind, that we are speaking of religious faith, in distinction from natural faith. It is undoubtedly true, that as natural men, that is to say, as men without religion, we may properly exercise a degree of confidence or faith in others, considered as natural men. Perhaps we may say, it is unavoidable. Man is so constituted, that he naturally and necessarily has faith in something. He cannot live without it. If a man has not faith in God, it is a matter of course, that he has faith in something which is not God. And just in proportion as that faith, which is due to God, fails to be placed where it is due, it will invariably be found to be given and placed somewhere else. Those, therefore, who have not faith in God, are consistent with themselves, and consistent with their fallen nature, in placing faith in men. They cannot well do otherwise. Man, such as he is, and with such power as he can impart, is their support. In a word, by the very fact of not placing faith in God, who is the “I AM,” the ALL in ALL, and by placing it in man, they make man their God. This is natural; it is the unavoidable result of the natural life.

2.—The religious man, considered as a religious man, (that is to say, considered as acting for religious objects and on religious principles,) cannot place faith in his fellow-men, except in a certain way and on certain conditions. The degree and the mode of the faith, which is to be exercised by the religious man in his fellow creatures, are to be determined by the relation which exists between God and man. It is well understood, that God and man sustain certain definite relations to each other; God as the Creator, man as the created; God as infinite in knowledge, man as comparatively knowing nothing; God as all powerful in the possession and control of all things, man in himself considered as entirely without strength. The relation in the objects of faith furnishes the rule, which regulates the relation of the faith itself. Accordingly if as Christians, we exercise faith in God, and at the same time exercise faith in man, it can be so only under the restriction and on the condition of keeping faith in man in proper subordination, by making it conform precisely to the relations actually existing.

3.—And on the principle just laid down, we may undoubtedly, as religious persons, have faith in man, just so far as he is entitled to the exercise of faith. And he is entitled to faith, just so far as he is in union with God; deriving from God, who is the source of all good, that true strength and wisdom, of which he is naturally destitute. If we trust in man under other circumstances, that is to say, independently of God and out of God, we trust in that, which is obviously full of weakness; and may be said, in the most emphatic manner, to “lean upon a broken reed.” The principle, therefore, is, that, as religious men, we cannot place any real confidence in our fellow-men, considered in their natural life, or merely as men; but can have confidence in them only as they themselves have faith in God, and may be regarded as in some degree partakers of the divine nature. If as Christians we have faith in God as God, namely, as a being possessed of all wisdom, all goodness, all strength, and as the true source of wisdom and strength to all other beings, we shall have no inducement, nor can any reason at all be suggested, why we should repose confidence, except in the subordinate manner already mentioned, in any other being. To do it would obviously imply a secret distrust of God, and could not be otherwise than offensive to him.

4.—So that it comes to this. As Christians, have faith in God; and have faith in that, and that only, which has God in it. Whenever and wherever you can see the divine nature in the human nature, “God manifest in the flesh,” by meekness, purity, and love, so far you may trust. So far as God is not there, you can trust only as you would trust that which is without true wisdom and without true strength; which is the same thing as to say, that there is, in reality, no place for trust. So that it is easiest and shortest, because it is wisest and truest, to say,
trust in God only. Throw aside every other support. Reject every other refuge. Consider man out of God as what he really is, nothing. And looking to him, who is just the opposite, the All in All, say, in the significant and beautiful language of the Psalmist, “My soul, wait thou ONLY upon God, for my expectation is from him.”

5.—He, who has faith in himself and his fellow-men, exclusive of faith in God, or just in proportion as God is excluded, is known by a disposition to resort to human arts, and to rest strongly in human policy. And as a natural consequence of this, when the looks and the sayings of men are favorable, we find him cheered with increased hopes drawn from that source; but when the current of public sentiment sets in opposition, we see too clearly, that he is filled with despondency and dismay. Still, deceived by his own worldly spirit, he does not cease to place his hope where he placed it before. Even in his sorrows and disappointments, he casts upward no strong look of confidence towards God; or rather does not look towards him at all. But relying upon human strength, he continues to resort to those artifices which conciliate popular favor, while God is forgotten. And thus, deceived himself and deceived by others, he can find no true refreshment and strength of soul, because he applies to that “broken cistern, which can hold no water.”

6.—On the other hand, the man, who has true and full faith in God, has no confidence, no faith in the creature, except as God’s instrument, as being under God’s direction, and as attended by God’s blessing. It is very proper, undoubtedly, and is entirely consistent with what has been said, to have faith in our fellow-men, and to have faith in ourselves, considered as God’s instruments, as reflecting God’s image, and as operating in the line of God’s providences; or in other words, to have faith in God in us. But it is not proper and it is not safe for us, as we have already seen, to have faith either in ourselves or in others, independently of God. The man, who has true faith in God, and who in having such faith is a true Christian, cannot do it.

7.—We have already had occasion to notice, that, when our actions repose upon faith in men, considered in their natural life, and
do not succeed, we are full of trouble. We look to this one and to that one in the hope of consolation; but we fail of finding a place of true rest. It is just the opposite, when our faith is placed where it ought to be. Trusting in God, we find all things to be made equal. Disappointment may afflict us; but it cannot disturb our serenity. Heavy trials, addressed to our natural sensibilities, may wring from us the tear, but cannot cause the heart to rebel. The pangs and anguish of nature, trying though they may be, cannot break the repose of the inward spirit, which strong faith has brought into unity with God. We can always say, “ALL IS WELL.”