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Henry Grey Graham.

What faith really means; a simple explanation online

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Ex Libris
C. K. OGDEN



[HE LIBRARY



THE UNIVERSITY



OF CAT [FORNIA



LOS ANGELES




WHAT FAITH REALLY MEANS



WHAT FAITH
REALLY MEANS

A SIMPLE EXPLANATION

BY THE

REV. HENRY GREY GRAHAM, M.A.



AUTHOR OF
"WHERE WE GOT THE BIBLE," ETC.



WITH FOREWORD BY THE

RIGHT REV. JAMES W. McCARTHY, D.D.

BISHOP OF GALLOWAY



R. & T. WASHBOURNE, LTD.

PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON

AND AT MANCHESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND GLASGOW
1914 All rights reserved



htl flteiat.

C. SOHUT, S.T.D.

Censor Deputatus.



EDM. CANONICUS SURMONT, D.D.,
Viccvrius Oeneralis.

WESTMONASTBRII,

Die 30 Septembris, 1914.



mi



FOREWORD

WHAT does Divine Faith really mean ? No one, outside
the Catholic Church, can answer the question with any
certainty. Something indefinite concerning God and
our Lord Jesus Christ, a vague and hazy notion about the
truths of religion, is all that it conveys to the non-Catholic
mind. And yet it is the most important question for the
souls of men: " Unless you believe you shall be con-
demned." What am I to believe ? is the puzzling problem
that perturbs the soul of every well-disposed man and
woman outside the fold of the Church. They search in
vain for something certain to hold on by, and the more
they search amongst the non-Catholic creeds the more
they find " confusion worse confounded."

If the inquirer wants to find the Truth that comes from
God, he can find it only from the Teachers and " Dis-
pensers of the mysteries of God," appointed by Him for
that special purpose.

In the natural sciences qualified teachers are appointed
to unfold their mysteries to scholars and students. How
particular the Senate of a university, the Committees on
Secondary Education and School Boards are in examining
the qualifications of a Professor or school-teacher before
they appoint either to impart a knowledge of the sciences
to others !

In law and medicine, as these subjects have such far-
reaching effect on the rights and well-being of the people*

i 1



1GS3470



ii FOREWORD

the Government will not allow an unlicensed professor to
teach students in any of their departments, nor will it
permit any person to publicly practise those sciences unless
the authorized corporation confers on them the requisite
degrees, under the penalty of fines or imprisonment.
Property and men's natural and conferred rights are too
sacred to be tampered with by any unauthorized person
taking upon himself to decide on those matters ! The
whole power of the Government of every civilized country
surrounds the administrators of the law solicitors,
magistrates, judges !

It is of vital moment to the health of the communities
to have qualified physicians to minister to " the ills that
flesh is heir to "; hence the State, with unsheathed sword,
forbids unqualified persons to practise the science of
medicine, under pain of severe penalties ! Now, no doubt
the rights of man and the health of the people are of
paramount importance, but is not the teaching of Religion
the most important of all the sciences to be imparted to
the people who profess Christianity ? Is every person
qualified to stand up in the market-place, or hall, or
church, and propound the most sacred of all sciences
the Truths of Religion no matter how profound the
depths of his ignorance may be ?

Medicine is an empirical natural science, law is the
science of the rights of man ; the knowledge of both may
be acquired by any scholar, yet governments must be
satisfied that the students have obtained a qualifying
degree of a recognized school before they are allowed to
practise amongst the people.

Is there no power to prevent the unqualified from teach-
ing the followers of Christ unsound doctrine that will



FOREWORD iii

corrupt their souls ? There is the first and greatest of all
powers the power of conscience directed by God, " Who
will have all men to be saved and to come to the know-
ledge of the Truth." He has appointed His Professors,
His Teachers, his Vicars, His Representatives, His Ambas-
sadors, His Apostles, "to go and teach whatsoever He
has taught them," "until the consummation of the
world." They alone are qualified, and licensed, and
appointed to teach the Truths of God : " He that hears you,
hears Me." To reject their teaching is to reject God's
teaching: " He that despiseth you, despiseth Me."

The science of Religion is not human, therefore it does
not belong to the empirical sciences, to be discovered by
experimental research; but as it unfolds a knowledge of
God a pure Spirit His attributes, and His relations with
man, it is entirely beyond the powers of a finite human
intellect to penetrate into His mysteries; hence man
depends altogether for his knowledge of heavenly things
on the revelations that God has deigned to give of Himself.
Under the Old Covenant, He revealed much of Himself,
through His chosen prophets; under the New Covenant,
the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Son,
became man, lived amongst men, taught men with human
words through human lips still more of the mysteries of
Heaven. He then chose men to be the appointed Teachers
of His revealed Truths; He breathed on them the power
He possessed; He commissioned them and their successors
to be His only representatives, in preaching the Gospel and
administering His Sacraments until the end of time.

Find, therefore, the successors of the Apostles, and you
find the only accredited, genuine ambassadors of Christ
on earth. All others are spurious, all others are wolves in



iv FOREWORD

sheeps' clothing, leading men to spiritual destruction. To
one who has grasped this all-important principle all else
follows in a natural sequence. " Faith is to believe with-
out doubting, whatever God has revealed," and since this
revelation can only be known from the successors of the
Apostles who reside in the Catholic Church alone, we
must in consequence go to the Catholic Church to learn
the true science of religion.

Whilst it is our duty to remove all obstacles that stand
between us and Divine Faith, we must at the same time
ever know and remember that it is a free gift of God,
which He will certainly grant to us if we seek it by fervent

prayer.

BISHOP OF GALLOWAY.

ST. BENEDICT'S,
MAXWELLTOWN,

DUMFRIES. %

July 13, 1914.



PREFACE

THIS little book purports to be a simple explanation, for
those who require it, of what an Act of Faith really is,
and what it means, for a Catholic. As it is not a formal
treatise on Faith, I have not entered into many theological
distinctions familiar to students of the subject, or at-
tempted to go very deeply into many questions raised.
For example, I have not distinguished between Divine
Faith, Catholic Faith, Divine-Catholic Faith ; for practical
purposes it all comes to the same thing; it is in any case
infallible.

I should consider myself well rewarded for my trouble
if I thought that a perusal of the book had led any non-
Catholic to inquire farther into matters of faith, and
above all into the claims of the Catholic Church to his
submission as the ordinary medium of God's Eevelation
to mankind. Before he can accept the authority of the
Catholic Church it is evident that he must first have
satisfied himself in reason that it is in truth God's
One True Church, commissioned to teach with Divine
authority.

But though he were so convinced, something more is
required before he can enter within the Fold. His will
must be moved, and he must suffer it to be moved, by the
grace of God. As has been well said: " Keason leads us
to the door of faith, but there it leaves us." It cannot
be too often repeated that Faith is a supernatural gift of
God, bestowed by Him out of His good pleasure. One
here, another there, receives it ; others live and die without
it. Why it should be so we cannot say, except " as it is



vi PREFACE

written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated "
(Kom. ix. 13). When all is said and done, therefore, the
gift of Faith must be offered by God, but it must also be
accepted by man with the help of God's holy grace. For
this prayer is an absolute necessity, and all can pray, and
the good God will answer their prayer. And once the
mind has been illumined with the Light of Faith, there will
come upon the soul a great peace and joy, born not of
this world. The experience of a convert is like that of
one who awaits the dawn. Midnight past, he discerns
the first streaks of daylight, and soon rejoices in the full
light of Heaven. Thus it is when the Sun of God's Truth
bursts upon his soul: " In Thy light we shall see light "
(Ps. xxxv. 10). This is the " reward exceeding great "
for every genuine convert.

Thanks are due to the editors of the Catholic journals
in which these papers originally appeared for permitting
their reproduction ; they are here extended, and in places
corrected.

H. G. G.

OUE LADY OF GOOD AID,

MOTHERWELL,

1914.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER PAOB

FOREWORD BY THE BISHOP OF GALLOWAY i
PREFACE - - ... V

INTRODUCTION - 9

I. THE TRUE MEANING OF FAITH - - 12

II. FAITH NECESSARY FOR CHRISTIANITY - 17

III. HUMAN FAITH AND DIVINE FAITH - 24

IV. BEAUTY AND REWARD OF CATHOLIC FAITH - 31

v. PROTESTANT'S FAITH THROUGH THE BIBLE - 39

VI. PROTESTANT THEORY FURTHER EXAMINED - - 47

VII. FAITH THROUGH AN INFALLIBLE CHURCH - - 58

VIII. SOME OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED - 72

IX. A CONCLUDING APPEAL - - - - - 90



vii



WHAT FAITH REALLY MEANS



INTRODUCTION

" How am I to know what God has revealed ?" This
question in the Catechism of Christian Doctrine is really
the most important question that a Christian can put to
himself. It is the question of questions. Perhaps some
one will say that that other question, " What must you
do to save your soul?" is more important; and at first
sight it might seem so. But assuming that a man has
determined to save his soul, the grand question for him is :
" What has Almighty God revealed on the matter, and
how can I get to know it ?" And at present I am sup-
posing the case of a man who ib anxious to be saved, who
believes that " God made us to know Him, love Him, and
serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for
ever in the next "; who believes that he is endowed with
an immortal soul, and that his chief concern in this world
is to save that souj, and that it will profit him nothing if
he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of it. I am
supposing, further, that to this end he realizes the neces-
sity of faith, as well as of hope and charity, for " without
faith it is impossible to please God." He does not (I am
assuming) consider it a matter of indifference what a man
believes, or how he believes, or whether he believes at all,
for " he that belie veth not shall be condemned." He knows
that Almighty God has made a Eevelation on the subject,
that He has revealed the Gospel of Salvation, that indeed

9



10 WHAT FAITH REALLY MEANS

this Kevelation was the sole end and purpose of the mission
of Jesus Christ in the world, and that therefore it is of
absolute necessity to know it, and believe it, and obey it.

And in all this I am not picturing a rare or imaginary
inquirer. There are many persons in this state of anxiety,
and many others who have passed through it unsatisfied,
and have drifted into indifference. I speak, of course, of
the multitudes of honest non-Catholics who have ceased
to believe in the system in which they were reared because
it failed to teach them securely how to save their souls,
but who have not yet despaired of finding some more
satisfactory authority in religion. They believe in God,
and they love God, and they know, moreover, that God
" in these days hath spoken to us by His Son," that, in
short, He sent Him into this world to reveal the Christian
religion ; but what precisely are the contents of that which
He has revealed, and how they may lay hold upon it in such
wise as to save their souls this is their difficulty. It is,
in other words, the old question of Authority. Who is to
be their Teacher and Guide in this the supremest of all
concerns ? Who, at this distance of time from the earthly
sojourn and atoning Death of our Incarnate Eedeemer,
who is to bring Him to us, and us to Him, that we may
know Him and hear His words, and have the merits of
His Precious Blood applied to our souls ?

Now it is with these people in my mind that I offer
the following papers. I would fain hope that they may
be not only of interest to Catholics, but also of some use
in assisting anxious Protestants to settle definitely and
finally the grand affair of their salvation. One thing is
clear enough: as the years advance there is an ever-
increasing number turning away in disappointment from
the Protestant method of settling the question, for they
have found its spokesmen to be " dumb dogs not able to
bark, and shepherds who know no understanding "
(Isa. Ivi. 10, 11), whose " trumpet gives an uncertain
sound " (1 Cor. xiv. 8), and who " have forsaken the



INTRODUCTION 11

fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves
cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water " (Jer.
ii. 13). And I am sure there are at least some who only
require to understand the clear and unassailable grounds
on which the Catholic Church bases her claim to speak
with Divine Authority, and they will submit themselves
to her teaching, and experience that " joy and peace in
believing " which so many before them have, by the
mercy of God, found within her embrace.



CHAPTEE I
THE TRUE MEANING OF FAITH

LET us, then, begin at the beginning. In the first place,
Faith is necessary ; on this all are agreed, for, according
to St. Paul, we are " justified by faith." Luther termed
this faith the " article of a standing or a falling Church ";
and as for Catholics, their belief concerning it is deter-
mined by the Council of Trent, which called it (Sess. vi.,
c. 8) " the beginning of human salvation, the foundation
and root of all justification." But here, unfortunately,
our agreement ends, for with the question that necessarily
follows, " What is Faith ?" we are at once plunged into
controversy. Ask the average Protestant, and you will
find that by faith he means trusting in Jesus Christ for
salvation, believing that He shed His Blood upon the
Cross and washed all His sins away, personally accepting
Christ and His offered Eedemption. " The principal acts
of saving faith," says the " Confession of Faith "
(chap, xiv.), " are accepting, receiving, and resting upon
Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal
life, by virtue of the covenant of grace." Or, to quote the
more familiar answer of the Shorter Catechism to the
question (No. 86): "What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace whereby we receive
and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered to
us in the Gospel."

According to this doctrine, when we have faith in Christ,
Christ accepts us and looks upon us as " righteous " even
though we are not really so. He " imputes His righteous-
ness " to us; He covers over our sins with His merits,

12



THE TRUE MEANING OF FAITH 13

much as a fall of snow covers a mudheap. And so Luther
taught : " God cannot see in us any sin, though we are
full of sin; nay, are sin itself, inside and out, body and
soul, from the top of the head to the soles of the feet,
but He only sees the dear and precious Blood of His
Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, wherewith we are
sprinkled " (quoted in Verres, " Luther, an Historical
Portrait," p. 139).

Now it must be said at once that this is not the true and
proper and Scriptural meaning of faith at all. That the
word may sometimes bear this meaning trust in a person,
belief in his power, hope and confidence is certainly not
to be denied. You find this kind of faith hi such cases,
for example, as St. Jas. i. 6, " Let him ask in faith,
nothing wavering "; and St. Luke, viii. 48, " Daughter,
thy faith hath made thee whole "; and St. Matt. xv. 28,
"0 woman, great is thy faith"; and even St. Matt,
xiv. 31, " thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou
doubt ?" and in other passages. But what we deny is
that this is the kind of faith Almighty God demands of
us as necessary for salvation, saving faith, justifying faith.
In fact, St. Paul himself actually distinguishes them, the
one from the other, and represents the former trust,
assurance, confidence to be an effect of the latter: " In
whom we have boldness and access with confidence, by
the faith of him " (Eph. iii. 12). Faith we hold to be " a
supernatural gift of God, which enables us to believe
without doubting whatever God has revealed " (Cate-
chism, Q. 9) ; or, according to the fuller definition of the
Vatican Council, " a supernatural virtue by which,
through the grace of God inspiring and helping us, we
believe as true all that God has revealed, not on account of
their truth as perceived by natural reason, but on account
of the authority of God revealing them, who can neither
deceive nor be deceived." This is faith: an intellectual
belief : the assent of the mind to certain truths ; the accept-
ance of whatever doctrines God has taught, simply



14 WHAT FAITH REALLY MEANS

because He has taught them. It is not a mere " accept-
ance of Christ," as Protestants assert, by an act of the
will; though it is that, too, in the sense that we accept
the doctrine that Christ died to atone for our sins. Cer-
tainly the will must move the intellect to make this act ;
and again, grace is required to move the will to operate,
as Our Lord taught when He said: " No man can come to
Me except the Father, Who hath sent Me, draw him "
(St. John vi. 44). In the long run, therefore, it is all a
matter of God's mercy bestowing grace. " For by grace
you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves ;
for it is the gift of God " (Eph. ii. 8). But confining our-
selves for the present to the act of faith, which is the effect
of the virtue of faith, we say that, according to Catholic
teaching, which is Scripture teaching, it is simply an act
of your intelligence ; it is believing and accepting with your
mind, assenting and consenting to whatever truths
Almighty God has made known, however difficult or
impossible they may seem, simply because He has revealed
them. This, and nothing else, is true faith.

I could adduce many texts to prove this, but I shall
quote only one, for I am writing not to prove the Catholic
doctrine, but only to explain and illustrate it, so that from
a general view of the whole Catholic system you may be
led to see how reasonable and unassailable, how beautiful,
satisfying, and consoling it is. "Go ye into the whole
world," said Our Lord, " and preach the Gospel to every
creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be
saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned"
(St. Mark xvi. 15, 16). Now, Our Lord is here speaking
of justifying faith: "he that believeth shall be saved."
And the faith He speaks of is to be that faith by which
the Gospel is to be believed. And what is the Gospel ?
It is the whole Christian religion, the whole scheme of
salvation as announced by the Apostles in all its parts.
" Go and teach all nations." " Preach the Gospel to
every creature." Now, to believe that is an intellectual



THE TRUE MEANING OF FAITH 15

act, a work of the intelligence, accepting and assenting to
the truths of the Gospel. It is not, as I said before,
merely the fact of believing that Christ died for you upon
the Cross, and trusting to that for salvation. That is
only a part of God's Kevelation. A man stands up in a
meeting, and says he is " saved " because " God so loved
the world as to give His only-begotten Son that whoso-
ever believeth in Him may not perish but may have ever-
lasting life," and " he that believeth in the Son hath ever-
lasting life " (St. John iii. 16, 86), and " He loved me and
gave Himself for me." Or he buttonholes his neighbour
at an Evangelistic meeting, and asks him, " Are you
trusting in the Blood ?" and " Have you decided for
Christ ?" and if he gets an answer in the affirmative, he
will say : " Hallelujah ! You are on the Lord's side ! You
are saved !" I know all this, because I have seen it and
heard it, and taken part in it. But that is not faith. It
is a mere sentiment, a feeling, a persuasion I am afraid
more or less fanatical concerning one single point of the
Christian Kevelation. It is narrowing faith down to one
particular act in Our Lord's Eedemption, and ignoring all
the rest. From this description you would never imagine
that Jesus Christ taught anything about the Church, or
the Sacraments, or good works. It is therefore essentially
and fundamentally a false notion of faith a delusion and
a heresy.

St. Paul has given us an inspired description of faith:
" Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for [i.e., the
basis and foundation on which rest the blessings of salva-
tion we hope for], the evidence of things that appear not
[i.e., the making certain for us things that are not visible
to the senses, nor perceived by reason] " (Heb. xi. 1).
This faith, by which " the just man lives " (Heb. x. 88),
consists in a firm belief in the things revealed by God, as
all the examples in this chapter (xi.) of the Epistle to the
Hebrews clearly shows. It is an act of the intellectrby
which we recognize such truths of revelation, for instance,



16 WHAT FAITH REALLY MEANS

as the forming of the world by the Word of God (verse 6),
and even the very existence of God as our future Judge
(verse 8). It was belief in God's Word, howsoever made
known to them a belief formed in the mind and with
the intelligence, and inspiring hope and confidence
which enabled Henoch and Noah and Abraham and the
rest to do all those things for which they are praised by
the sacred writer. They believed on the authority of God,
Who made revelations and promises to them.

Such is the nature of that faith which is necessary for
salvation in every part of Holy Scripture, and especially
the New Testament. In the true sense, therefore, the
Scriptural and the Catholic sense, we may define faith
to be the willing and deliberate submission of the mind to
revealed truth, the acceptance of and belief in all that
God has revealed. And anything less than this is not
faith.



CHAPTEE II
FAITH NECESSARY FOR CHRISTIANITY

THE faith to which I have been referring is called a
" supernatural gift of God " partly, no doubt, because
it is concerned with truths above the natural order, which
our unassisted intelligence cannot comprehend, but princi-
pally because this faith must come from God Himself, and
cannot be acquired in any other way. You have it not
by nature; you cannot get it by seeking for it, either in
books or in the world around you or anywhere else ; it is a
free, unmerited gift of God. And after sanctifying grace,
it is undoubtedly the most precious gift God can bestow
on man, because it enables him to believe the Gospel, and
without it you cannot believe. Let me explain why.
There are many things in the Christian religion truths,
dogmas, facts, call them what you will that the natural
man finds it hard, indeed impossible, to believe. Observe,
I do not say impossible only to understand, but impossible
even to believe.

Christianity is a supernatural religion; it is full of
mysteries and miracles. The Christianity which Eational-
ists and Modernists in our day attempt to recommend a
religion stripped of mysteries and emptied of all super-
natural elements is not the Christianity of Jesus Christ,
nor of the Bible, nor even of what is called " Orthodox
Protestantism." We must either take Christianity with
its mysteries or leave it alone, for the two stand or fall
together. And this applies to Protestant as well as to
Catholic. The religion of Jesus Christ asks him to believe
not only what he never saw and what no one ever saw,

17 2



18 WHAT FAITH REALLY MEANS

but what no one ever can see, and what from the very
nature of the case cannot be proved or accounted for on
natural grounds in any way whatsoever. We have only
to refer to the Apostles' Creed, which many Protestants
profess as well as we. Take the doctrine that Our Lord
was " conceived by the Holy Ghost," or the " forgiveness
of sins," or the second coming of Christ, or " the life ever-
lasting"; or, again, the existence and guardianship of
angels, or the reality of Heaven and Hell. These are
realities, but spiritual realities; you cannot see or touch
or handle them; they are not proper subjects of natural
science or reason; you must take them on faith, as


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