Sermon 677. Faith Versus Sight
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7.
I THINK the Apostle is explaining here how it was he could say that while he was at home in the body, he was absent from theLord-and through what means he felt that this was not the state in which he wished to be forever. Having been possessed, andactuated, and moved by the principle offaith, he was not content to tabernacle in a body which could only be dwelt in satisfactorily through the influence of thefaculty of sight. The Apostle, however, mentions here a great general principle-"We walk by faith, not by sight." In talkingupon this text this evening,we shall-without pretending to go into it fully-speak, first of all, upon the posture mentioned. Then upon the two principlescontrasted, and finally upon a certain caution which is here implied.
I. First, a word or two about THE POSTURE MENTIONED. Paul, speaking of Believers, says: "We walk by faith, not by sight."Walking is, of course, a posture which implies the possession of life. You can make a dead man sit in a certain position,or even stand in a chosen attitude-but to walknecessitates the possession of inward life. It becomes with us, therefore, a question, in the first place, whether we havethe life of God within us.
In the sense in which the term "walk" is here used, the ungodly man does not walk at all. He hastens after his own lusts andhe treads in the way of the flesh. But in a spiritual sense he is, and always must be a stranger to "walking" until God hasquickened him. When we see corpses walking alongour roads and pass them at eventide in our streets, then shall we expect to see Christian feelings, Christian emotions,and Christian character exhibited by unconverted men-but not till then! There must first be an inward life before there canbe the outwardsign of it.
Walking is a position which also signifies activity. You would suppose, from the way in which some Christians deport themselves,that their whole life was spent in meditation. It is a blessed thing to sit-
" With Mary at the Master's feet," but we walk as well as sit. We do not merely learn, but we practice what we know. We arenot simply scholars, but, having been taught as scholars, we go on to show our scholarship by working in the vineyard or whereverelse the Master may be pleased to place us.The quietists and mystics are a class of people who have a peculiar attraction for my mind, and I suppose the mention ofsuch a name as that of Madame Guyon, who, among females, stands at the very head of the school, will awaken in many of youmany sweet remembrances of timesenjoyed in reading her blessed hymns and of her sweet and admirable life.
But, after all, it is not the highest style of Christian living to be a mystic or a quietist. "We walk." Some Christians seemas if they always sit, but, "we walk." You would gather, indeed, from what others say, that the whole life of a Christianis to be spent in prayer. Prayer, it is true, isthe vitality of the secret parts of Christian life, but we are not always on our knees! We are not constantly engaged inseeking blessings from Heaven. We do, "continue in prayer," but we are also engaged in showing forth to others the blessingswhich we have received, and inexhibiting in our daily actions the fruits which we have gathered on the mountaintop of communion with God. "We walk," andthis implies activity.
Oh, I would that some Christians would pay a little attention to their legs instead of paying it all to their heads! Whenchildren's heads grow too fast it is a sign of disease and they get the rickets or water on the brain. And there are somevery sound Brethren who seem to me to have got somekind of disease-and when they try to walk, they straightway make a tumble of it-because they have paid so much attentionto perplexing doctrinal views instead of looking, as they ought to have done, to the practical part of Christianity.
By all means let us have doctrine! But by all means let us have precepts, too. By all means let us have inward experience,but by all means let us also have outward "holiness, without which no man can see the Lord." "We walk." This is more thansome can say. They can affirm-"We talk. Wethink. We experience. We feel"-but true Christians can say, with the Apostle Paul, "We walk." Oh that we may ever be ableto say it, too! Here, then, is the activity of the Christian life.
In the posture of walking there is also implied progress. A man does not walk unless he makes some headway. We are not alwayspracticing the goose-step. We are not always lifting our foot and then putting it down in the same place. This may do verywell for the beginners in the awkward squad atdrill, and I am afraid that a great many of us are still in that squad-but the Christian who has got through his childhood,and has grown somewhat, makes progress. There are some who will tell you that they do not know that they have made any progress,or, if they do not saythis, you can see that they have made none.
They are as bad-tempered as when they first joined the Church. They are as changing, as narrow-minded, as critical, as easily"carried about with every wind of doctrine" as they were at first. Such persons give some cause for suspicion as to whetherthey know much about the Divine life atall-because they who have the Divine life truly in them can say- "We walk." They go from strength to strength. Every oneof them appears in Zion before God. They are not satisfied with being in the Way-they desire also to walk in the Way. Goddoes not say tous-"This is the Way," and then stop-He says, "This is the Way, walkin it."
We are always to be making advances. We are to be going from faith in its beginnings to faith in its perfections- from faithto assurance-from assurance to full assurance. And from there we are to go to the full assurance of hope to the full assuranceof understanding-alwaysforward, waxing stronger and stronger. There is a progress to be made in every Christian Grace and he who carefully marksthe terms used about Christian Graces will discover that there are degrees in all of them, while each of them are degreesone above the other. Walking impliesprogress and the genuine Christian, when he is in a healthy state, may truthfully say-"We walk."
Walking also implies perseverance. When a man goes along a step or two and then stops, or returns, we do not call that walking.The motion of the planets, as seen by the eye have been described by the poet as "progressive, retrograde, and standing still."I am afraid there are many people of whomthis would be a true description, but the true Christian keeps on. And though there may often appear to be times when hestops, and seasons when he goes back, yet the Scripture is not broken where it says that, "The path of the just is as theshining light, that shines more and moreunto the perfect day."
The Christian's motto is, "Upward and onward." Not as though he had already attained, either was already perfect-he pressesforward to the mark for the prize of his high calling in Christ Jesus. We are not true Christians if we stop, or start, orturn aside. As an arrow from a bow that isdrawn by some mighty archer speeds straightway towards its goal, such is the Christian life as it is and such is it as italways should be. We make progress, and we persevere in so doing.
I think, however, that by the term "walk" the Apostle meant to signify that, in the ordinary and customary actions of lifewe are actuated by faith. You know walking is the common way of moving. You do not often talk of a child's walking. You dospeak of it, of course, but you generally say, "Thereare the little ones running about the house." You do not say that they are "walking about the house," because the way ofmoving with the young is generally running, inasmuch as they have a great deal of extra energy and have not yet got into thewear and tear of life.
You do not find lambs walking at all in the ordinary way in which sheep do. Now, it is very easy, in the beginning of theChristian life, to run in the ways of the Lord with rejoicing-but running, after all, is not the most manly form of progress-itis not that which can be kept up forlong! Running fatigues and tires you- walkingis that kind of progress in which a man continues hour after hour. And afterhis night's rest he rises again to walk on as before until he reaches his goal.
In Scripture we often read of men who, by faith, did great exploits. "By my God I have broken through a troop. By my God Iwill leap over a wall." Now this is a very great thing to do, and some Christians are always fixing their eyes upon exploitsof faith. The Apostle Paul cut through troops anddid leap over walls, but in this place he speaks of the common actions of life. It is as if he said-"I not only leap wallsby faith, but I walk by faith! I not only break through troops by faith, but I go and do my business by faith."
That man has not yet learned the true spirit of Christianity who is always saying, "I can preach a sermon by faith." Yes,Sir, but can you make a coat by faith? "I can distribute tracts, and visit the district by faith." Can you cook a dinner byfaith? I mean, can you perform the common actions ofthe household, and the daily duties which fall to your lot in the spirit of faith? This is what the Apostle means. He doesnot speak about running, or jumping or fighting, but about walking-and he means to tell you that the ordinary life of a Christianis different from thelife of another man-that he has learned to introduce faith into everythinghe does. It was not a bad saying of one who saidthat he, "did eat and drink, and sleep eternal life." We want not a home-spun religion, but a religion that was spun in Heavenand that will do to wear athome and about the house. "We walk by faith."
The Mohammedan worships his god at the "holy hour." The true Christian calls all hours "holy," and worships always. Some setapart the seventh day of the week, and therein do well, but in setting apart allthe seven days, and living to God, and enteringinto rest throughout them all, we do betterstill. Our souls should not keep our religion for the Tabernacle and the pew, and the closet, and the open Bible, and thebended knee. Our religion must become the atmospherein which we live, the element in which our soul breathes! Our God mustdwell in us, and we dwell in Him. Wemust feed upon Christ, not as a special dainty, but as "the bread of Heaven," and drink of Him, not as a luxury, but as"the water of life." We must wear our piety, not as some holiday garment, but as our everyday dress and then it is that weget into the spirit of true religion.
Summing up all, then, the whole of the Christian life which is implied in the term, "walk," is here spoken of, and it is influencedby the principle of faith which we are now about to speak.
II. And now, secondly, in the text we have TWO PRINCIPLES CONTRASTED. There is walking by faith, and there is walking by sight.The most of men, all men, indeed, naturally walk by sight. They have a proverb that, "Seeing is believing," and they are wisemen, for they trust people as far as they cansee them, and no further. The world thinks itself uncommonly knowing in always depending upon its own sight.
The highest degree of worldly wisdom seems to be just this-see everything for yourself and do not be taken in. Do not be ledby the nose by anybody, but follow your own understanding. This is the text which the world's Solomons always preach from-"Self-madeMen"-that is the titleof their book! Self-reliance-that is the name of their principle, and, according to the world, the best and grandest thingthat a man can do is to have faith in himself! Their maxim is, "Know things for yourself. Look after the main chance. Makemoney-make it honestly ifyou can, and honorably if possible, but, if not, make it anyhow, by hook or by crook." "Take care of Number One"-this isthe world' s learned dictum.
Now the Christian is the very opposite of this. He says-"I do not care about looking after the things that are seen and aretemporal. They are like dissolving views, or the scenes from a child's magic lantern-there is nothing in them- they are butphantoms and shadows. The thingsthat are not seen influence me because they are eternal They endure, remain, abide, and therefore they affect a creaturewhich has learned that it has, not mortality alone, but immortality, and who, expecting to live forever, therefore seeks forthings which will be like his ownexistence."
Now, since the world thinks itself so very wise for holding everything it can, and thinks the Christian such a great foolfor giving up what he can see for what he cannot see, in contradiction to the world's proverb, "A bird in the hand is worthtwo in the bush"-let us see where the wisdom ofthis matter is, and where it is not. In the first place, we notice that walking by sight is a very childish thing. Any childcan walk by sight, and so can any fool, too. We know how a child feels when it looks at a mountain, and we have all felt thesame when we have gone toSwitzerland and other places.
I had a friend with me, who said of a certain mountain-"I will undertake to be at the top in half-an-hour." It took us fiveand a half hours steady toiling, and we did not go slowly either! Of course my friend judged by his sight, and not being accustomedto mountains, and not knowing thatsight is a very different thing when it comes to deal with different landscapes-not knowing that a judgment which wouldbe pretty accurate in England would be totally wrong in the mountains of Wales, and still more erroneous in Switzerland-notknowing all this, I daresay he would be startled at eventide, expecting to find himself at the top before the sun went down, whereas he would nothave reached it till the middle of the night!
A child always judges everything by what he sees. You give him a number of coins. They are all counterfeit, but he is so pleasedwith them that he does not care about having real sovereigns-he is just as glad to have those he has, for they look quiteas good. You offer him sixpence and whenhe is yet a youngster he will give you your sixpence back for a penny because the penny is the larger of the two. He judgesby sight, which, you see, is a childish principle altogether. When a man grows up he no longer judges so much by sight. Hehas learned a great many things inthis world and he has discovered that his eyes may be very greatly mistaken at times.
The child says-"How quickly these stars move! How fast the moon hastens through the clouds!" The man says- "No, no. It isthe clouds that are moving." The child says that the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, and admires its motion.But the man knows that the sun doesnot move at all, and that it is the earth that is moving. He believes this, and thus in a certain degree he has faith becausehe cannot see the world move. Hodge once said he would not believe the world moved at all because he found that his housestill stood in the same place, andHodge proved himself to have been thus only a big child. But it is a very manly thing to believe something which you cannotsee. Even in common philosophy it is so.
The children all sat at home in England, and in Spain, and in France and they said-"Oh, this is all the world, this is," andthey had their Mediterranean Sea in the middle of the earth. But there was a man among them who said he did not believe itbut thought the world was round, and thatthere was another half to it. "You are a fool," they said. "Fool or not," he replied, "I believe it." And Columbus stoodup, head and shoulders taller than the rest of his fellows and got a few to go with him and started-a company of fools theywere called. They could not seeanything!
They sailed on, and on, and on, for many weary days, and the unbelievers said they had better go back. There were severalpieces of seaweed floating about which looked as if they came from some other shore, or had been washed down some not fardistant river. Columbus did not care much for theseseaweeds because he believed, and believed firmly, that there was another half of the globe. And when the land birds cameand lighted on his ship, though they gladdened his heart, yet they did not make him believe any the more. And when he sawAmerica, and stood on the strand of theland of gold, he still only had to keep on as he had done. He had walked by faith before, and he could continue in the samecourse now. When he came back everybody said-"What a wonderful man is Columbus!" Just 50 and all the rest were children-hewas the only true manamong them.
Now the Christian is a man! I mean to say he is "a man" in the Scriptural sense of the term. He has become a full-grown manin Christ Jesus, and while the worldling says-"This is all the world. Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Let us makemoney and spend it and enjoy ourselves, forthis is the end of the world"-the Christian says, "No, there must be another half to the world! I am sure there must beanother land beyond the sea, so I will loose my anchor and turn my helm, and try to find it. I will leave this world to youchildren and will seek anotherand a more heavenly one."
So we sail away and by-and-by we see the bits of seaweed. And when at last the angelic messengers come, like birds of Paradise,and light upon the masts of our vessels, then we thank God that we were ever enabled, with true manly courage, to loose ouranchor, to set out upon our voyage and to turnour helm towards the sea! We thank Him that we believed in God and were actuated by a noble principle of faith, comparedwith which the world's wisdom is but the folly of the child. This, then, is the first thing we have to say about these twoprinciples-that the one ischildish while the other is manly.
Again, the one is groveling while the other is noble. I think the world must be pretty well ashamed of itself if it stillconsiders this poor earth to be all that a soul has to live for. I feel as if I could not talk upon the matter. Solomon triedeverything there was in this world-riches,power, pleasure-every sort of delicacy and delight he had, beyond the point of satisfaction-and what was his verdict uponit all? "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" A man earning his bread all day long-what is he? Is he better than the donkeythat I saw a littlewhile ago at Carisbrook Castle, pumping up water and always going round? What more is he than that?
"Well, but he makes money and acquires houses and land." Yes, and there is only so much more probate tax to be paid when hedies, and I suppose the worms know no difference between a man who died worth three hundred thousand pounds and a poor wretchwho was buried by the parish! It does not come toanything more than that! The children go to the seaside with their little wooden spades and build up a pier of sand, butthe tide comes and washes it away-and this is just what men do-they build with heavier stuff, which gives them more care andnot half so muchmerriment in piling up as the youngsters have in digging up their sand. But the end is just the same!
Only the children live to build again, while these big children, these grovelers, are washed out to sea with all their worksand perish everlastingly. You have walked upon the beach, I dare say, when the sea has gone down. I do not mean the beachat Ramsgate where everybody goes, but a long way outin some quiet spot. If you have, you will have seen what hundreds of little mounds there are all over the beach, where theworms have come up and made a number of small heaps. That is all we do, and it is all that the world is-just a big place coveredall over with littleheaps of dirt that we have all piled up.
But where have we gone? If there is not another world to live for, I must say that this life is a most unutterably empty kindof thing! It is not worthy of a man! But oh, to believe what God tells me-that there is a God-that God became flesh to bearme up to Himself! To believe that Iam God's son-that I have an immortality within myself which will outlast the stars-that I shall one day see His face andsing His praise forever with cherubim and seraphim! Why, there is something herd. The man who believes this feels as if hebegins to grow! He burststhe poor engrossments of his flesh and expands into something worthy of a man who is made in the image of the Most High!
The principle of seeing everything, and of liking only to get what I can see, and touch, and handle is the poor instinct ofbeasts and birds, but the principle of living upon what I cannot see, and upon something that I can believe, is one worthyof a man. As much as man is higher than the beast,so much and yet more a thousand-fold is the life of faith superior to that of mere sight and feeling.
Again-there is something exceedingly ignorant about believing only what I can see. What, then, shall I believe? Even in commonlife the man who walks by sight must necessarily be a fool-I say necessarily because nine out of ten things in the world thatare the most wonderful and potentcannotbe seen-at least not by the eyes. A man who will not believe in electricity-well, what can you make of him in thesedays? Such a man will believe in the vapor that puffs from the steam engine, but since nobody ever did or could see steam,inasmuch as it is aninvisible agent, he cannot ever believe in that!
He lives in the midst of a great world and he cannot account for most things in it because he will not believe in anythingbeyond what he sees. If he carries this principle out-the marvels of other countries, and the wonders of other ages are allshut out from his poor dull mind. And this ismost decidedly the case with regard to spiritual things. If you only walk by sight, and only believe what you see, whatdo you believe? You believe that while you are living here it is a good thing to make the best you can of it. And that thenyou will die and be buried, and thatwill be the end of you! What a poor, miserable, ignorant belief this is!
But when you believe in what God reveals and come to walk by faith, how your information expands! Now riddles are all solved,and the inexplicable is understood! Now you begin to comprehend things in a way which you never could have done had you walkedonly by sight. Now you can understand thosetrials and troubles that come to you! Now you can understand the complexity of your nature and the inward conflicts thatyou feel within you. You could never have done this on the principle of sight-but believing what God says you have got intoa state in which you shall beeducated and taught till you become wise-and able to have fellowship with the only wise God!
Let me say, again, that walking by sight is such a very deceptive way of walking. After all, the eyes do not see anything-itis the mind that sees through the eyes. The eyes in every man have some sort of defect in them-they need to be educated fora long time before they tell thetruth! And even then there are a thousand things about which they do not always speak truly. The man who walks by his eyeswill be deceived in many ways. The angler baits his hook and casts his fly upon the water, and the silly fish, which jumpsby sight, has the hook in its jaws ina moment. You can evermore, if you will, go from bad to worse in unseen danger if you will judge according to the sightof the eyes.
The world is wise enough to say that, "Honesty is the best policy." The world was not quite itself when it said that, formostly it is present gain that Satan sets before us, and present pleasure. "Snatch the hour as it passes," says Satan. "Thesethings are sure-you do not know what may comeafterwards." And so is the poor soul deceived by judging according to what he thinkshe sees, whereas the man who has a Godto go to, and to believe in, is never deceived. The promise to him always stands fast. The Person of Christ is always hissure refuge, and God Himself is hisperpetual inheritance.
Let me add, again, that the principle of sight is a very changeable one. You can see well enough, you know, in the day, butwhat will you do in the night when you cannot see? It is well enough to talk of walking by sight in the light, but what willyou do when the darkness comes on? It is very wellto talk about living on time present while you are here, but when you go upstairs and lie on your deathbed, what about theprinciple of living for the present then? When you cannot stay here any longer-when, notwithstanding all the ties which heldyou to earth, Death begins todrag you away and you cry to him-"Stop! I cannot leave wife, and children, and business just yet!" And when Death remorselesslytears you away from all that is dear to you-how about the principle of sight then? It is a strange principle to die with,but, let me say, onthe other hand, that the principle of faith does best in the dark!
He who walks by faith can walk in the sunlight as well as you can, for he walks with God-he has enlightened eyes, but he canwalk in the dark as you cannot, for his light is still shining upon him. He trusts in the unseen and in the invisible-andhis soul rejoices when present thingsare passing away. We will not tarry longer upon this point except to say one thing, namely, that those who walk by sightwalk alone. Walking by sight is just this-"I believe in myself." Whereas walking by faith is-"I believe in God." If I walkby sight I walk by myself.If I walk by faith then there are two of us, and the second one-ah, how great, how glorious, how mighty is He!
He is the Great All-in-All! He is God All-Sufficient! Sight goes to war at its own charges and becomes bankrupt and is defeated.Faith goes to war at the charges of the King's Exchequer and there is no fear that Faith's bank shall ever be broken. Sightbuilds the house from its own quarry and onits own foundation, but it begins to build and is never able to finish. And what it does build rests on sand and falls.But Faith builds on the foundation laid in eternity-in the fair colors of the Savior's blood-in the Covenant of Grace! Itgoes to God for every stoneto be used in the building and brings forth the top-stone with shouts of, "Grace, Divine Grace unto it."
Beloved, when you say, "I will do so-and-so," you may be very proud. But when you can say, "God will do so-and-so, and I believeit," then you will be humble and yet you may glory and boast as much as you will because there are two of you together. Itis not "the sword of Gideon," but, "the swordof the Lord and of Gideon," and Jehovah cannot be defeated. "The life that I live I live not, but Christ hides in me," andthis is the grand advantage. In living by sight you have to get your own wisdom, your own judgment, your own strength to guideyou. And when you get intotrouble you must be your own deliverer, and your own comforter, and your own helper or else you must run to somebody asweak as yourselves who will only send you deeper down into the mire.
But when you walk by faith, should there seem to be a mistake you have not made it. Should anything seem to go wrong, youdid not steer the ship. And if the ship should run aground, you are not answerable and will not be blamed. It is yours tobe watchful and careful, and to believe that all thingswork together for the good of those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. But besides this we know thatnothing can go wrong while God is in the vessel! Blessed be God, when Christ is on Lake Gennesaret there may come a stormynight, but every vessel gets safelyto port and we can always sing-
"Begone unbelief, my Savor is near, And for my relief will surely appear. By faith let me wrestle, and He will perform, WithChrist in the vessel I smile at the storm."
III. And now, having contrasted the two principles, I am about to close by noticing THE CAUTION IMPLIED in the text. The Apostlesays positively, "We walk by faith," and then he adds negatively, "not by sight." The caution, then, is-NEVER MIX THE TWOPRINCIPLES. Some of you will not know whatI am talking about but I will try to make you understand it. Some of you are actuated in what you do by something that youcan see. You can see your children, and you will work for them. You can see money-you will strive for that. You can see such-and-suchtemporal good-you will seek after that.
But the Christian believes in God and he lives to God. He lives as if there were a God, but you live as if there were no God.He believes in a hereafter-you say you do, too-but you live as if there were no hereafter, while the Christian lives as ifthere was one. He believes in sin, andyou say you do, and yet you never weep about it-while the Christian lives as if sin were a real disease and he could notbear it. You say you believe in Christ the Savior, but you live as if you did not believe in Him. The Christian lives uponhis belief that there is aSavior. All that he does is affected and acted upon not by what he sees, but by what he does notsee and yet believes! Hewalks according to that faith.
Now, the thing that neither you nor I can understand is this-how is it that the man who has once learned to walk by faithcan be so stupid as ever to mix the two principles together? You may go on a journey by land, or you may go by water, butto try to swim and walk at the same time would berather stupid. A drunken man tries to walk on both sides of the street at once-and there is a sort of intoxication thatsometimes seizes upon Christians which makes them also try to walk by two principles. They cannot do it! It is like tryingto go due east and due west at thesame time. The principles themselves are antagonistic to one another and yet there are some Christians who attempt it.
Shall I show you what I mean by this? You say-"I believe God loves me. I have prospered in business ever since I have beena Christian." Yes-the first part of that is faith-but the second part of it is sight. Suppose you had not prospered in business,what then? Why, according toyour way of reasoning, you would have said-"I do not believe that God loves me, for I have not prospered in business sinceI have been a Christian." So, you see, you would really be walking by sight
Genuine Christian reasoning is this-"I have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ. He says that as many as receive Him are thesons of God. I have received Him, and I am therefore a son of God. Now, whether my Father kisses me or flogs me, I know thatI am His son. I am not going to be guided bymy state and condition, but by my faith as to the promise of the Word. He says that if I have received Christ I have theprivilege to be a child of God. Then, whether I am rich or poor-whether I am sick or healthy-all these are matters of sight.I do not bring them intothe calculation. I take the naked Word of God as it stands-that I am God's child. If He slays me I am His child. If He letsme go to prison, if He should suffer me to rot in a dungeon, or to burn at the stake, I am still His child! I do not lookupon circumstances as at allaffecting my position."
Oh Beloved, if you once begin calculating your position before God according to your temporal circumstances, where will yoube? Do not talk any more of believing-you have given it up-and you are really walking by sight. Perhaps many of you do notmake precisely this mistake, but thereis another way of doing it. "Now," says one, "I have believed in Jesus Christ, but I am afraid I am not saved, for I feeltonight so depressed in spirits, and so unhappy." "Oh," says another, "you need not tell me that I have trusted in Jesus Christ,for I am sure I am saved,because I feel so happy."
Now you are both wrong, as wrong as wrong can be! When you said you trusted in Christ-so far, so good. But when you said youwere afraid you were not saved because you were so unhappy, or, on the other hand, that you were sure you were saved becauseyou were so happy-that, also, iswalking by sight! You see you are mixing up the two principles which will no more go together than fire and water. If Ihave believed in Jesus Christ, I may at this moment, through disease of body or some other present temporal affliction, bevery heavy in spirit-but I amsaved notwithstanding. "He that believe on Him is not condemned."
I may be very troubled. I may see a great deal in myself that may make me distressed-but if I believe, I am not condemned,and cannot be. Or, if I have strong faith and am possessed of great joy, that is no proof of my being saved. It is my believingthat is the proof of that. I do not hangupon my feelings-I rely simply upon Christ! I must learn the difference between feeling and believing or else I shall alwaysbe blundering and making mistakes. You sometimes get taken by the Lord to the mountaintop and you have such sweet communionwith Him! And then yousay-"My mountain stands firm, I shall never be moved."
Ah, poor Simpleton, you do not know what you are saying, for in a short time you may go down into the depths and cry-"AllYour waves and Your billows have gone over me." You think that God has forgotten to be gracious and you begin to write bitterthings against yourself-whereas that isthe very time to "have faith in God"-
" When we in darkness walk, Nor feel the heavenly flame, Then is the time to trust the Lord, And wait upon His name."
You think that you will use your candle in the daytime, but candles were made for the night! Faith is not meant for sweetframes and feelings only-it is meant for dark frames and horrible feelings. Do you think that the minister has no changes?If he had no changes within he would knowhimself to be a Moabite and not an Israelite, for it is Moab that is settled on his lees!
What, then, is the way to maintain peace when there are changes within the soul? How can we be peaceful when we are sometimestaken up to Heaven and are another time cast down? Why, the only way is never to be unduly elated by prosperity without orwithin and never to be unduly depressed byadversity or by doubts and fears! We must learn to live neither upon things without nor upon things within, but upon thingsabovewhich are the true food for a new-born spirit. What is your title for Heaven, Christian? Every evidence will one daybe taken from you except that whichis comprised in these three words: "It is written."
The genuine foundation upon which I may rest for salvation is this: "God has said it." It is not, "I have experienced it,"for there will often be times when I shall be afraid that my experience is a delusion. But if "God has said it," we can neverbe afraid! On the oath and Covenant of the MostHigh we must, every one of us, come and build! If we do that, all shall be well with us. But this is a work so far abovehuman nature that human nature does not even understand it, and though I have tried to speak very plainly, I am consciousthat I have spoken in riddles to many ofyou. God Himself must open the eyes to understand what living faith means, and then He must give that living faith and perpetuateit or else, as Israel went back in their hearts to Egypt, so shall we go back to the garlic and onions of the things thatare seen and have but little ofthe manna which comes from an unseen Heaven.
And now, in closing, I would affectionately bid you take heed of one thing. You must be sure if you walk by faith, that youwalk by the rightfaith. I mean you must be sure that it is faith in Jesus Christ. If you put faith in your dreams, as someof you still do-or in anything you thought yousaw when you were walking, or in a voice you thought you heard from the clouds, or in texts of Scripture coming to yourmind-if you put faith in anything else but Christ-I do not care how good it may be or how bad it may be-you must beware, forsuch a faith as thatwill give way. You may have a very strong faith in everything else but Christ and perish!
There was an architect who had a plan for building a lighthouse on the Eddystone Rock. He was quite satisfied, and as he satby the fire looking at his plans he was quite sure that no storm that ever came could shake the building. He applied for thecontract to build the lighthouse and did buildit-and a very singular-looking place it was. There were a great many flags about it and ornaments and it looked very promising.Some shook their heads a little, but he was very, very firm and said he should like to be in it himself in the worst windthat ever blew. He was init at the time he wanted to be-and he was never heard of again-nor was anything more ever seen of his lighthouse. The wholething was swept away. He was a man of great faith, only it happened to be founded on mistaken principles.
Now sometimes, because there is a way of talking which looks very much like assurance, you may say, "I am not afraid. I neverhad a doubt or a fear. I know it is all right with my soul. I am not afraid of the test of the Day of Judgment." Well, whetheryou wish it or not, that test for the labor ofyour lighthouse will come. And if it should prove that you built it yourself, it will be swept away-and you with it. Butif your soul takes God's Word, and reading that Word, believes it and is willing to be taught its inward meaning-if you takethat Word as it stands,and rest upon it, and act upon it with all your heart and soul-the worst storm that ever blew shall never shake your rockand refuge, nor you, either! And you shall be safe when earth' s old columns bow and all her wheels shall go to wreck andconfusion.
Rest in the Lord Jehovah! Depend on the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ for all that you need! Rest whollyin Him with the whole weight of your soul and spirit and then there shall be no fear that what you shall see is God's facewith acceptance! May God teach us faith on the rightprinciple, and may we walk by it, and not by sight- and then the Lord shall give us that reward which is given to thosewho walk by faith in the living God!