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FROM THE


WHSLEY


WEYMAN COLLECTION


PRHSHNTED BY A FRIEND TO


THE SENS


YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY




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THE



INSIGHT OF FAITH



HENRY WILDER FOOTE

"■ ■ ■ \ .. \



Minisier of King's Chapel



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BOSTON

Geo. H. Ellis, 141 Franklin Street

1892



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THli ^EW ^ORK
V'^^U^ LIBRARY

TILDEN FOUNDATIONB



copyright
By Frances E. Foote

1892



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THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.



'T^HE universe is as full of truth
and goodness as it is of light.
And no more surely does the con-
stant day return alike to "the
just and the unjust" than true
lives will rebuke our untruth, and
earnest opportunities rebuke our
reluctant sloth of spirit by their
brave and cheerful solicitings, and
the gospel haunt us with its warn-
ings and its invitations.



The possibilities of evil and
weakness which are in every soul
may become realities of good and



6 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

Strength. Exactly for that end is
life given us ; and all its encour-
agements and all its hardnesses
invite us toward that grand re-
sult. Virtue can find one out,
be it practised never so silently
in the recesses of the spirit.
Truth and goodness can find one
out, be they only believed in and
trusted in. You cannot love the
truth and speak it, love purity
and make it the star of your life,
without truth and purity shining
through you. You cannot make
God and Christ your friends with-
out their upholding you in life and
in death.

Do you think that you can twist
only sleazy threads into the cord of



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. J

life, and yet that the cord itself will
be strong enough to bear a strain ?
And would it not be idle to dream
that we can be peevish in the
little rubs of life, unfaithful in its
duties, cold in prayer, hard and
ungracious in our judgments, un-
thankful and unloving, and, in
spite of ourselves, be made saints
of God?

We need to cultivate religion
as we would cultivate any other
habit, if we would have our God
nourish it with the strength which
Cometh down from heaven.



What is the secret of religion,
do you ask ? It is the same as
the secret of any truth of life. It
begins just where we are to-day.



8 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

Fidelity, honesty, purity, truth, —
you can have no rehgion without
them any more than you can have
any Ufe at all that is vi^orth the
name without them.

And, on the other hand, you
can have no life that is complete
until all these run up into the
spiritual virtues which are their
perfection, and are warmed and
made alive by religious trust.



Get a little inside these uninter-
esting lives all about you. Find
the best that is in them, by bring-
ing to them the best that is in
you. Have faith that they appre-
ciate great and true thoughts,
that they keep burning a lamp of
some unselfish love and trust in



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 9

the hidden places of their souls.
Build your social intercourse on
the things that are r^l in all our
lives, not on the commonplaces.
Make the law of your being a law
of sympathy, not one of repulsion;
and, so sure as the daylight is
stronger than the night, you will
find that life becomes larger and
sweeter for you continually.



In the intercourse of daily life
a large part of its most trying fric-
tions comes from the censorious
spirit.

A great deal of the kindness of
New Englanders is soured by un-
graciousness, — it is kind, but not
kindly ; and a great deal more is



lO THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

locked up in people's hearts, and
never comforts any one but them-
selves. Now, thoughtfulness and
patience, a serene cheerfulness, a
large tolerance, the quick eye to
see where we can help, the hand
as quick in good ministries, make
light in many a dark place : they
are the divine order for bringing
beauty and peace into the tumult
of this human fellowship in which
we are set ; and they are graces
of spirit which it is immensely
within our power to acquire and
increase.

" Fellow-laborers together with
God," the Scripture calls us. We
are workers with Him in His plan ;
and yet we are not without our



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. 1 1

share in it, too. Unless He did
our work for us, we must do it
ourselves ; and His way of doing
it for us is to do it through us, —
not necessarily that part of the
world's work which we think we
should like to do, but that part
of it which He sees it best that
we should do to help out His in-
finite purpose for us and all His
children.

And it is best for 02ir own sake,
too. For what is His plan is our
blessing.

In the battle of life men stand
shoulder to shoulder, each at his
own post. If one falls back, his
neighbor falters. We may well
ask ourselves, remembering this.



K



1 2 THE IXSIGIIT OF FAITH.

whether we think enough of the
duty of silence about our troubles,
lest we cast them needlessly on
other hearts, — whether we think
enough of the duty of streiigth,
that we may encourage them to be



Every one has the burden of
ignorance, which can only be
borne in humility; of weakness,
which can only be lifted by prayer ;
of sin, which only repentance
and a new heart toward God can
do away ; of sorrow, which a
childlike spirit toward the heav-
enly Father can alone bear.

But we have also the duty to
be strong. Bear the burden, and
it will really bear you.



^



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 1 3

The iron laws of life are the
facts of things which God has
made, as surely as He has made
anything ; and thene can be no
discord between His works in one
way and His word in another
way. The spiritual science which
is in Jesus Christ cannot contra-
dict the sternest fact that we
know; but it can go to the heart
of it, and can show under its
roughest disguise that it has a
meaning of truth and love.



Work as if on you alone in the uni-
verse depended success, and trust as
if all depended on the power of your
God.

That Jesus Christ is specially
and wonderfully the Revealer and



x



14 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

the Revelation of the Divine —
as the Scripture declares the
image of the invisible God — I
surely believe. It seems to me
that the more the world advances
in knowledge, dropping its plum-
met further and further into the
sea of Being and still finding that
it is beyond soundings, the more
sure a stay and hold amid the
swaying tides of all beside is
given by the abiding disclosure
of God's goodness and providence
and fatherhood which Jesus gives,
and which I find in him alone.
" He that hath seen me hath seen
the Feather": the Christian world
for all these ages has gazed into
the shining of that face, and has
felt that rays of the Eternal



?tf



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 1 5

Mercy shone there, which brought
the light and strength and peace
of the very heaven to human
hearts.

It is Christ himself who is the
substance of the Truth which he
reveals. He bears v/itness to the
nature of God and the nature of
man, and the eternal life which
now is and is to be forever ; and
our undying love and gratitude
and reverence go out to meet him,
because he stands before us so
fully at one with the Father that
the spiritual truths of God's king-
dom and of the Being of God
Himself are perfectly revealed to
us in his word and life.



1 6 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH

The truth of God never changes
in its essential heart; and so he
who has perfectly taught it is for
that reason forever the Master of
the soul that receives it.



The deep heart of God made
known and accessible to His chil-
dren, — this and nothing less than
this we touch in Jesus Christ.



The thing to desire is that we
and all men may more and more
be filled with the vision of God
and of man as we see them "in
the face of Jesus Christ." Even
in the New Testament we find
that, if the writers had defined
him, they might have done it dif-



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 1 7

ferently one from another ; but
they see Imn, and him alone, under
God, and in him they come to-
gether.

The presence of God really felt,
with what we do and what we are,
is the infallible judgment. The
simple contrast between what we
are, on the one hand, and what
He is and what He would have
us be, on the other, is the con-
demnation. In this sense, what
mistake so great as to think to
postpone the day of judgment to
the end of the world ? The day
of judgment is to-day and every
day, if we but knew it. Will not
the thing which distinguishes the
day at last be simply this, — that



1 8 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

then we shall have the vision
of God more clearly, and, seeing
Him, shall see ourselves and our
lives utterly revealed in His light ?
Well may we say with the prophet
of old, " But who may abide the
day of His coming ? or who shall
stand when He appeareth ? "

Here it is that the religion of
Christ comes to us with its double
and blended power to humble and
to raise us. In him the heart of
the Revelation is lived into human
life. The infinite judgments voice
themselves unerringly; the infi-
nite mysteries disclose their mean-
ing enough to waken heart and
hope in us ; the infinite Love
breaks forth as the sun from be-
hind a cloud. From the depths



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. 1 9

of a spirit at one with God, our
Saviour discloses to us the truth
and the justice and the mercy of
God : the infinite Judge is revealed
as the infinite Father.



*' Blessed are they that have
not seen and yet have believed."
We may not think it strange if
we find that the Christian demon-
stration follows this law. If the
Christian arguments are not ad-
dressed only to sight, but also to
the spiritual vision, it is because
the spiritual vision is a legitimate
part of the human being, and is
not to be ignored. If some of
them are addressed exclusively
to the spiritual vision and in no



^



20 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

wise to sight, there, too, the anal-
ogy in other realms of thought
and life is followed ; and it is
because appeal is made to the
highest and most enduring part
of the soul. The appeal tran-
scends sight : it is not necessarily
contrary to sight. And a very
practical conclusion follows. Even
if you do not see all the luay
through your faith, you still have
a right to believe that you are
justified in believing.



In this insight of faith we can
see the world of moral and spir-
itual truth shining with new light,
and beyond this world the truth
of the life immortal.



:^



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. 21

O friends, this is no empty
vision : it is the very certainty of
God. We need it in this eager
world to arm us to battle down
temptation, to deepen our earthly
sight into heavenly insight, that
we may look beyond the wrecks
and woes of time to the serene
and eternal shore. We need it
that we may believe beyond the
hardest thing that we see, in the
justice and loving mercy of our
God, the Father and Lover of
souls. '

As the four walls of that upper
chamber vanished when Thomas
gazed upon that divinely human
face, so did the limitations of this
narrow room of time melt away



^



22 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

into the infinite horizon of heaven.
And so do they for us all, when
we really look at Jesus Christ :
we see immortality embodied and
triumphant.

Leonardo da Vinci's fresco of the
Last Supper, half seen through its
decay, seemed to me more wonder-
ful for the gracious veil of obscu-
rity which time has thrown over it,
leaving something to the imagina-
tion. The face of Christ is seen
as in a dream only, yet as perhaps
one may see it on first waking
into the better life, before the
clouds of earth have quite ceased
to cling about the soul. I felt as
if for the first time I had seen the
realization of the ideal which we



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 23

have by instinct of the majesty,
the beauty, the strength, the sor-
row too, which belonged to him at
that hour. It was as if we had
touched the hem of his garment.



All of God's sun shines on our
commonest day.



The by-ways always lie open to
His light : however hedged about
on their earthly sides, they are
free toward heaven. There is no
corner where my weakness can
hide itself from His demanding
call. There is no covert of sin
shady enough to protect me from
His light.



24 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

Nor can we find content in re-
solving that we will live in the
world as we find it, trying only
for fairly honest lives. Fairly
honest lives are exactly what we
cannot live without some deeper
principle to hold them fast.

The temptations of vvorldliness
will set the strongest head swim-
ming sometimes ; the temptations
of business will overbalance the
abstract advantage of doing about
right; the temptations of passion
will cloak themselves in the dark.
And only the plain loyalties of
conscience and spirit will bring
those things straight, and make
the life day by day square with
the eternal truth of God.



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. 2$

The opportunity of saintliness
comes into our special way of life,
whatever it may be. All the
power which was in the spiritual
heroes of the elder time, all the
chivalry which was in the " Saint
George whose broken spear and
dust-worn banner they pretend to
show you," all the purity which
was in the virgin saints, all the
faith which was witnessed bv the
great army of martyrs and con-
fessors, — these all wait to be in-
carnated anew in the honesty of
your work, in the stainlessness
of your thought, in the courage
of your truth, in the steadfast-
ness of your trust, in the sweet-
ness of your charity.



26 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

Perhaps we should think the
courtesy of thorough manners
better worth cultivating if we
would think what a power it is for
good. The manners that reveal
a really friendly heart, a true con-
siderateness, a readiness to take
trouble and pains to serve others,
— these never deceive in the long
run. They cannot be counter-
feited successfully. But they can
be acquired by practising the ex-
terior form and the interior dis-
position together. They can be
made a second nature outside
where the heart is renewed in a
loving spirit. And then they will
move human hearts as no other
power can.

Tlie power of this Christian



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 2/

courtesy which is in the very
natiwe of the man will ani-
mate him in unimagined perils.
When the Monitor "Tecumseh"
was sinking in the bay of Mobile,
the heroic Captain Craven stood
aside instinctively to let the pilot
go up first from the wheel-house
by the narrow ladder which was
the only way of escape, saying,
"You first, sir." The vessel
sank before he could follow. In
all that sudden shock and terror
the Christian gentleman could not
be shaken out of the courteous
habit of his life.



The gospel of Jesus Christ is
"glad tidings of great joy": it



28 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

means not weakness, but power,
not death, but life. If it speaks
of sin, with yet louder voice it
speaks of redemption ; if of re-
pentance, it is a repentance unto
life ; if of Christ's sufferings, also
triumphantly of his victory ; if
of God's searching presence and
compelling law, its message is
bathed in the light of His infinite
love, or calls us to the joy of chil-
dren in their Father's world.



It cannot be too urgently said
that it is not enough for us merely
to acquiesce in Christianity. Yet
is not this the best that can be
said of not a little which calls
itself by that great name } Does



^



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 29

it not take Christianity as, alas !
it takes the blessed light and air
of heaven, the boons of health
and peace, as matters of course, —
the benefits of Christianity as an
old story, not as the power of life
unto life to-dav ?



As the country path leads into
the great highway that will take
us round the world, so does the
homeliest fidelity run into the
great ways of God. There is no
monotony in the Christian life.
It is the accumulation of more
and more, — larger powers with
the using, fuller gifts with the
spending, more generous life with
the living:. And it is an endless



^



30 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

progress. Sin and selfishness are
stationary or retrograde. But, in
the Christian, who ever exhausted
the depths of communion which
are in prayer? who has drained
out all the possibilities of service
and sacrifice which are in the cup
of life } who has come to an end
of that higher life which is hid
with Christ in God }



The fact is that real growth in
character comes as so many of the
best gifts of God come, — by the
way. In doing what we believe
to be God's will for us, many
things lie in the straight line of
that fidelity. Every unselfish act^
makes unselfishness more possi-



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 3 I

/ ble. Every true word deepens
'our sense of truth. Every sacri-
/'fice broadens the nature. I do
not suppose that Saint Paul ever
thought what the effect on him-
self would be of obeying the heav-
enly vision. He saw God's will
for him, and threw his whole
grand soul into its service, that
was all. But in that path awaited
him all the gifts of courtesy and
dignity, of widest knowledge of
life and broadest culture, — a char-
acter weighty as pure gold, a soul
in which faith had become sight.



We want to believe the truth.
Anything less than that is not
worthy to be held by human minds



:^



32 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH

and hearts in this earnest world.
And we may be sure that any-
thing which is partial and incom-
plete, which fails to fit into the
wants and promptings of the
human spirit and makes all the
diviner side of things an enigma
or a blank, hard wall, is not wholly
true. It may be the half-truth
which is the greatest falsehood.
That only is the key which will
fit all the wards of this most intri-
cate lock.

There is not a human soul so
small and poor but that it is large
enough to be the battle-ground of
the "earthy" and the "heavenly."
The opposition is set right before
you in the difficulty of every day's



:^



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. 33

life. Between dawn and dark
there is time enough for the col-
lisions of disinterestedness with
selfishness in our dealings with
our fellow-creatures, in the life of
our own homes, time enough to
meet or to evade the demands of
homely faithfulness in our several
work, time enough to confront the
sturdy rebellion of passions and
besetting sins against our spirit-
ual nature, time enough to win or
to lose heaven in.



Yes, we do quench the Spirit
when we sin : we quench it when
heart and mind become distem-
pered from their balance by a
fevered excitement, and when we



->S



34 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

let ourselves become swallowed
up in the pursuit of things which
perish in the using, and content
with low aims and trivial pur-
poses such as do not become a
child of God. And not seldom
we think that it is somehow no
fault of ours. We wait for the
angel to descend to stir the muddy
pool of our ordinary life ; and we
wait in vain. Yet all the time
beside us is standing, unheeded
and unknown, in the common
opportunities which have been
enough for the saints of God from
the beginning of the world to this
very hour to find all heaven in, —
beside us, I say, is standing He
who can make us whole.



V^



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. 35

When we go forward believing
that what was true once is true
forever, willing to try whether
unselfishness does really brace the
soul, whether love to God does
really make the heart tender and
strong, whether prayer meets an
answering Spirit, and faith finds
a door of hope, only then do we
bring into our life the power
which God meant it should have.



Human relations are divine reve- j
lations.



The gift of expression greatly
needs cultivation. But how much
wider is the room for expression
than in speech only ! Wherever



^



36 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

two persons meet, it might be
found in the look of the eye or
the grasp of the hand. There is a
courtesy of thoughtfulness which
would lend a finer flavor to ordi-
nary intercourse, and would be
ever finding occasions of benefit-
ing others. " ' Quand tu entres
chez un aveugle,' dit un proverbe
Arabe, 'ferme les yeux.' " It is
an exquisite expression of the
way in which true hospitality will
instinctively enter into the cir-
cumstances of those with whom
it has to do.



Two things are implied by the
fact that we are here, spiritual
beings, in God's world : first, that



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 3/

we are able to see that which is
deeper than what we see ; and,
second, that, since God is helping
our vision, the deeper it is and
the better it is, so much the more
can we confide in it. The vision
which without Him answering
might be visionary, zvitJi Him an-
swering is what we call faith.



Sometimes we want to be our-
selves the substitute for the day-
light to those who are very dear
to us and who suffer. But that we
cannot be, neither can we be the
substitute for God. There are
secrets which lie between the soul
alone and God alone. Deeper
than my friend's silence, I know,



38 THE IiYSIGHT OF FAITH.

is the merciful dealing of God
with my friend's spirit. And
elsewhere, if not here, I shall see
those treasures, and be glad.



Shall we doubt that "I will
give thee the treasures of dark-
ness " is true also with those who
have been led through the valley
of the shadow ; that, as they pass
through the mystery, it is into
fuller light beyond, — the comfort
of God's upholding hand, the joy
of His free spirit, the welcome of
long parted souls, the glad sur-
prise of heaven ?



With the Christian, immortality
is not an intellectual speculation.



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH 39

not a fancy or a reverie : it is
a persuasion, calm and steadfast,
which opens beyond the horizon
of earth the sweep of an infinite
eternity, — not empty and desert,
but filled with the presence of
God, and the light and joy of His
service.

No one can tell the unending
power for good which each of us
may have in our homes, among
our fellow-men, by faith in them, —
how far we can strengthen their
feeble desire for God and all good.
Care, then, for the soul of people,
and for the soul of what they do,
as well as of what they are. Dis-
criminate their desires and efforts
and prayers from their follies and



40 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

their failures. Think of the high-V
est in them, and not of the lowest./
And, if there are times when the'
public ear is filled with corruptions,
still see to it that the bad and the
feeble and the foolish things do
not lead you to disbelieve the
good.

You cannot do anything noble,
helpful, unselfish, for another per-
son, without its enlarging your own
soul. You cannot make any gain
in self-discipline and in character
without its making you more loyal
to Him who gives the moral law
and inspires the conscience ; nor
can you come into living filial rela-
tions with the living God without
at the same time becoming more



^



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. 4 1

tender-hearted and more thought-
ful toward His children, more
strong and clear-sighted in your
governance of yourself.



There is no end of growing in the
Christian life, but its beginniftg is
in the simplicity of the most natu-
ral relations to God and to men.
The busiest have time enough for
it ; the most uncultured know
enough for it ; and the wisest can
only then be truly wise when they
have returned to that simplicity.



It is no wonder that to the
disciples of Jesus it seemed that
*'the power of his resurrection"
was manifested afresh in every
life of one of his followers. The



42 THE INSIGHT OF FAITH.

wonder would be if this had not
been so. Why should we speak of
these things as if they were shut
up within the covers of the New
Testament? That which makes
the New Testament the book of
life for us is the fact that it testi-
fies to a power which works and is
alive to-day. A living faith is con-
tinually rising with Christ from
the grave of an imperfect Past to
new spiritual life. The soul which
knows "the power of his resur-
rection " is the one which looks
to and believes in and loves the
things which he loved and which
he lived. It seeks those things
which its Master sought ; and it
seeks them, as he sought them, as
realities.



Vr



THE INSIGHT OF FAITH. 43

It is only when some remark-
able experience opens to us the


1 3

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