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Published by glennpease



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Published by: glennpease on Sep 27, 2013
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FAITH.BY STOPFORD A. BROOKE"And the disciples said unto him, Lord, increase our faith." —Luke xvii., 5.Every one has said hoAV unintelligible the world is,and how heavy and weary is the burden of this unintelli-gibility. But its weariness and its weight are the spursof our curiosity, and our curiosity is the parent of our activity. Were not the world unintelligible, we shouldnot have been intelligent. It is the ceaseless array of physical problems, needing solution, which has trainedthe scientific intellect of mankind. It is the ceaselessarray of mental and moral problems which has devel-oped the thoughtfulness of the race. It is the ceaselessarray of problems about God and his relation to mankindwhich has trained the spiritual life of men ; and it isthese last that come more home to us than all the others.We hand over the solution of physical and metaphysicaldifficulties to si^ecial bands of scholars ; and, on thewhole, we accept the answers they give, where sufficientproof has been alleged, or Ave take no trouble aboutthem. But the spiritual difficulties touch the heart andlife of almost every man or woman. They claim thateach one of us should look into them for ourselves, and2 FAITH AND FREEDOM.find each of us our own answer. The great jiroblem ispresented to us, and we liear a voice which says, Findmy answer, or be devoured by me.It is tlie okl story -of the Sphinx, The Greek, inhis grave, sad way of looking upon life, beheld it as astruggle against the unintelligible. Something was tobe discovered ; and, if discovered, the fortunate one wasmaster for a time of Life. But, if nothing were discov-
ered, Life, as it went on inexorably, slew him ; and hedied, and the Greek had no certainty that he should livein the future by the mastery of the problem. Even hewho found a portion of the answer, and could make his Avill the victor and not tlie victim of Life, was doomedto be overcome in the end by the undiscovered secret,and Oedipus falls into hideous ruin. Fate has its ownway with him. Yet even in that story we catch a glimpseof a higher truth, when the tale is finished by an insj)iredpoet. The blind, old man finds at last relief. The Furieschange their countenance to him, for he understands atlast the meaning of their inexorable pursuit. lie under-stands, and dies in jieace. We too, I belicA'C, one andall of us, are fated to understand all things at last. Weshall see face to face, knowing God as we are known byhim. But it will be a far longer business for some of usthan we think or than Ave shall like.There are some for Avhom it is not long. It is plainthat as tlie genius of some ])hilosophers is almost intui-tive Avitli regard to the secrets of nature, so there areother men Avhose feeling is intuitive with regard to thesecrets of spiritual life. They know without proof : theyneed no autliority and no evidence. They have notrouble of heart, but Avalk with God as friend withFAITH. 3friend. But no one can tell how far previous educationbefore they were born into this world may have giventhem that power.On the other hand, just as children, and afterwardsmen, learn the sanctions of physical laws through thecommission of a series of mistakes, for each of whichthey suffer punishment, — pursued relentlessly by theFuries till, their secret being found, they become theEumenidcs, — so in the spiritual world also there aremany who can only reach good through having knownevil and overcome it, can only attain to the knowledgeof truths thruugh having found out by sad experience
the uselessness and harm of false knowledge of them.We are jiursued, as long as we are wrong in our ideasof God, by the scourge of restlessness, or desjDair, or anger. Not till we find the secret is there any pause.To discover a portion of it is not enough. We mustpay the gloi-ious penalty of our immortality ; and thatpenalty is often renewed doubt and spiritual darkness.Often, we think we know all we need to know : we saywe have reached the goal, our faith is secure, we havenothing more to conquer. It is the very moment whenwe are surprised by a new aspect of a truth and feelourselves ignorant, only ]ialf-way, with faith and coiiragetottering and troubled. God, in what seems to our wea-ried eyes crvielty, drives us from our rest. A new diffi-culty rises before us, which we must solve or die, till atlast, step by step, it may be here, it may be long here-after, we enter the venerable grove, and know all ; andour rest is jjerfect, for our comprehension is pei'fect.It is the common objection that this is a long andneedlessly harsh way of making us know him, when4 FAITH AND FREEDOM.God might do it so much sooner, if he would ; and thegreater part of our Avorlc tliis morning will centre roundthat objection.In answer to it, there is first this, — that a good dealhas been found out already, if peo2:)le would take thetrouble of looking at it. The scientific man enters intothe knowledge of the past, and finds a certain number of things which have been already discovered. He hasnot to rediscover these things. And the sj^irit ncAvlyborn into a spiritual life enters into the possession of thespiritual experience of the past. There are a certainnumber of statements about God and his relation tomen which have slowly, during the spiritual historyof the woi'ld, taken their places as foundation-stones. All sorts of buildings have been raised on these founda^tions, — creeds, schemes of redemption, a multitude of 

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