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PART SECOND. ON FAITH, AND THE UNION OF GOD AND MAN IN FAITH.



CHAPTER II.


ON FAITH AS THE CONSTITUTIVE ELEMENT OF HUMAN AND DIVINE UNION.


Of man's perfection when he came from his Maker. — Man created originally in the possession of faith. — Reasons for this view. — Of the degree or strength of faith, as it existed in man at first. — Man' s recognition of God as his Father. — These views supported by the Scriptures.

ALL that man had when he was made, came from his Maker. And all that God made was pronounced good. It could not be otherwise. "Every good gift," says the apostle James, "and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." "His divine power," says the apostle Peter, "hath given unto us all things that pertain unto godliness."

2. Among the original gifts which God gave to man, when he came good and perfect from his Maker's hands, was that of FAITH.

If God could not exist, as the Creator, without faith in himself, so man could not exist as the created, without faith in God. Faith in God, at the time of his creation, was a necessity. That is to say, he must have been created, in the first instance, with the principle of faith, as a part of his nature. Additional to what is expressly said in the Scriptures on the subject, there are two reasons in support of this assertion.

The first is one which is derived from the nature of the mind. Perhaps it may be called the philosophical reason. It is this. Faith, considered as the product of humanity, must necessarily rest upon the evidence of direct perception, in some of its forms, or of reasoning, or upon both combined. But it is self-evident, that it could rest there only on the ground of the antecedent acceptance of the credibility of the perceptive and deductive powers. Hence, the express declaration of the German philosopher, Fichte, namely,
that we are all born in faith. [Fichte's Bestimmung des Menschen. — Sce Morell's History of Philosophy, on this subject, Part II. ch. § 2; also a biographical History of Philosophy, by G. H. Lewes, series II., vol. 4th.] It would be impossible for us to believe in the information which the perceptive and deductive powers give, unless we previously possessed confidence in them, as qualified to give information. And this confidence or faith, in them, it would be impossible for us to have, unless we had, at the same time, entire faith in the God who gave them.

3. The other reason, that man must have been originally created with faith in God, as a part of his nature, is founded in man's sonship. The view is this. God. in forming man in the first instance. constituted him not as a being made and cast off from himself, but as a being made and continuing his existence in himself: not as an independent existence, but as a related or filiated existence. In other words, God made him a son.

But this could not be done without some connecting principle. There can be no mental connection, such as is implied in sonship, without faith. Filiation, or sonship of mind, without the principle of faith existing in that which sustains the filial relation, is an impossibility. God, therefore, in making men his children, necessarily gave them faith. And this is obviously the doctrine of the Scriptures, that faith is not only necessary to constitute sonship, but is the
gift of God. [Eph. 2: 8. Heb. 6:1 - 4. Galat. 3:7 - 26.]

4. Accordingly, man in his original state
believed. To doubt was something alien to his nature. He not only had faith in God, as the originator of his own being, but as the Supreme Ruler, the "God over all." Indeed, the propositions of God's eternal existence, omnipresence, and supremacy, are necessarily addressed rather to faith than to absolute knowledge. To possess, for instance, a direct and positive knowledge of God' s supremacy, including both the fact of his supremacy and its infinitely various applications, would imply a knowledge not more limited than his own. But if the divine supremacy, as thus explained, is too vast a subject for direct and positive knowledge, it is not too vast for belief. If the human mind cannot fully comprehend it, (as it certainly cannot, in its particulars,) it can believe in it as a thing incomprehensible.

5. And the faith, which was given to man when he first came from the hands of his Maker, existed in such a degree of strength as to exclude doubt. Faith has its degrees. But if a man has a weak or imperfect belief of God's supremacy, he will fail to render him that sincere and deep homage to which his supremacy is entitled. There can be but one Supreme power. To doubt of God's supremacy, or to believe in it with anything short of a full and perfect belief seems to imply the possibility of another ascendant power. In such a state of mind we know not whom to call our master, or whom we should obey. It cannot be said of such a being, nor of any other being in whom faith is not perfected, that he lives by faith. So that the sonship, in which man was originally made, and to which the renovating power of the Gospel is destined to restore him, implies, not only faith, but the perfection, or highest degree, of faith.

6. In the beginning, therefore, man, from the necessity of the case, was created not only with faith, but with faith existing in the highest degree. And faith, thus given, was the first principle of union. Man could not have been united in any other way. The faith of the heart inspired the utterance of the lips. The first cry which man uttered, when he came from the bosom of the Infinite, was, MY FATHER; — a voice of filiation, and of love, which was not learned through the instrumentality of human teaching, but was inspired and spoken by a divine impulse.

And accordingly, it is said by the apostle Paul, in reference to the restoration of man to God, through Christ,
"We are the children of God, by faith; " — a remark which evidently implies, that without faith we could not be children. God, in speaking of the rebellious Israelites, says, "They are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith." [Galat. 3:26. Deut. 32:20.] Being without faith they had ceased to be true children, and had become froward. And it is thus we are enabled to feel the force of that remarkable passage in Jeremiah, "And I said, How shall I put thee among the children, [or restore thee to the condition of children, ] and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? And I said, Thou shalt call me My Father." [Jerem. 3:19.] And in all cases the faith, which enables us to recognize God as our Father, constitutes us his children.