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The Struggle and Victory of Faith.

The Struggle and Victory of Faith.

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" And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with
tears, Lord, I believe ; help Thou mine unbelief'' — Mark ix. 2-4.


" And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with
tears, Lord, I believe ; help Thou mine unbelief'' — Mark ix. 2-4.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 21, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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THE STRUGGLE AD VICTORY OF FAITH. BY REV. JOH KER, D. D. " And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe ; help Thou mine unbelief'' — Map>k ix. 2-4. The greatest of Italian painters has taken this narrative for the subject of the last and greatest of his paintings. It was his dying legacy to his art and to the world. His hand was unable to give it the final touch, and it was carried in procession before him to his grave in the Pantheon at Rome. He has been charged with a viola- tion of the rules of art because the Mount of Transfigura- tion almost disappears, and he brings the summit with Christ's glory close to the base, where the father is im- ploring the disciples to heal his child. And this is so far true. He wishes to enclose Christ and man in one scene  — Christ in his divine power and mercy, and man in his misery — and so he effaces the distance, and brings them into contact, making the material law yield to the neces- sities of the spiritual world. For indeed the Transfiguration gives us a view of the entire mission and work of Christ. We see Him above the world, but not separated from it, surrounded by the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the ew, owned by God as his beloved Son, and looking forward to the death which crowns his saving work ; while on the earth below there is the demon-stricken child with the anxious father — the tokens of the dreadful power and ravage of sin, where the prince of Evil is, as it were, A 2 THE STRUGGLE AD VICTORY OF FAITH. visibly challenging the Son of God to a contest for the
possession of the world. And this history is being repeated all through time till Christ shall come again without sin unto salvation. We have around us human sin and misery in the most varied forms, but we have also the strength and grace of Christ ready to come down, as of old, for help and healing ; not as here, first the body and then the soul, but by a more divine order, first the soul and then the body, till at last body and soul are both saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. And we have to add this feature, that we have still within us the same heart of doubt. This man's struggle, is it not a picture of the faith and unbelief which are so often in conflict in our nature 1 Yet, if we had this man's earnestness, and if we made his prayer our own, we should bring down a grander presence and a mightier power than did the genius of the artist, not the image of Christ but the living Lord him- self, to give the victory to faith — " Lord, we believe ; help Thou our unbelief." Let us seek to take this prayer as a common human experience, or, at least, an experience of all earnest-minded men. I. We say, then, that we may learn here, first, tha,t faith and unbelief are often found in the same heart. The human heart, small as it is, has a wonderful power of lodging different inhabitants, and lodging them at the same time. It admits fear and hope, jealousy and love, the lowest and most hateful passions and near to them the reproachful thoughts which point us up, in rebuke, to things the most pure and noble. The picture which Milton gives of our first mother sleeping in the garden is true of us. There is the toad-like spirit whispering evil dreams into the heart, and the angel is standing by to keep watch on the tempter. Every day we feel that there is within us what the Bible THE STRUGGLE AD VICTORY OF FAITH. 3 calls " the multitude of our thoughts." These contrarieties are never more marked than when the heart lodges, as it
often does, faith and unbelief. ever probably does un- belief take the whole field to itself at all times. A man can rarely, if ever, reduce himself to a fixed aud blank denial of all that lies beyond his senses. The most resolute atheist, who thinks he has reasoned himself into the conviction that matter is the sum and substance of the universe, that the soul is merely a focus of forces cheating itself with a feeling of personality, that God is only man's magnified image in the sky, and eternal life an egotistic fancy, even he has at times his misgivings, or his hopes (which shall we call them ?) that there may be more than this. When some exquisite scene in nature makes his heart leap up in answer to a supreme beauty, or when some act of unselfish devotion, pouring out its heart's blood for what is dearer than life, thrills his spirit, he feels for the moment as if the sky held something beyond infinite vacancy, and as if man had something more in him than refined clay. Or take even the man who has not merely said " There is no God/' but who has said it with his heart, who has brought his life down to his creed, and wrapped it and steeped it in the world of sense till atheism is his comfort, and eternity his terror ; are there not moments in the seasons of the night, and in the awakenings of con- science, when God draws aside the curtain, and looks in with the word, " Thou fool ! " — when a past he thought dead starts up and points to judgment, " I will meet thee there" 1 Atheism, whether it be speculative or practical, can never close the door and windows so fast but that a lightning flash may break through the chinks, and make the man ask, " May there not be something beyond the four walls of this chamber of my thoughts 1 " And again, on the other hand, take the man who has the -i THE STBTJGGLE AD VICTORY OF FAITH. strongest conviction that there is a soul and a God and a life beyond death, to whom a higher existence is not a

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