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us in which it may be achieved ? Our powers, though they can never equal, may be constantly approximating to the very powers of God Himself.
The limitation of knowledge, then, affords no valid argument against the use of reason. The fact that reason will not teach us everything does not justify us in refusing to derive from it such instruction as it is able to impart. “If a man were to walk by twilight, must he not follow his eyes as much as if it were broad day and clear sunshine ? Or, if he were obliged to travel by night, would he not give heed to any light shining in the darkness? It would not be altogether unnatural for him to reflect how much better it were to have daylight; he might perhaps have great curiosity to see the country round about him; he might lament that the darkness concealed many extended prospects from his eyes, and wish for the sun to draw away the veil: but how ridiculous would it be to reject with scorn and disdain the guidance and direction which that lesser light might afford him, because it was not the sun itself !” Not less foolish is the man who refuses to use his finite reason , because it is not infinite.
And, further, the limitation of knowledge affords no valid argument against the exercise of faith. We saw in the previous sermon that our faith, to be worth anything, must be a reasonable faith. But the limitation of knowledge does not prevent it from being reasonable. Not only will reason teach us much (reason, I mean, in conjunction with the various divine revelations), but it will also supply us with suggestions as to why we do not know more. Our powers must, in the nature of things, be limited; for we could not have been created infinite, and finitude means limitation. Further, we need not take offence at knowledge being for us a gradual acquisition. To do so would be as absurd as if a child were to grumble because it was not born grown up. The process of growth is the very purpose of our existence. Nor need we be angry at “the sore lets and hindrances” by which we are at present trammelled, such as the distractions of business, the petty worries of life, or the easily exhausted powers of our physical organism. For the value of knowledge, like that of everything else, is enhanced by the difficulties amid which it has been achieved. And even if, as is quite possible, certain things have been purposely concealed from us, which we have already the natural capacity for understanding, this concealment may be eminently wise and kind. “There is no manner of absurdity,” says Bishop Butler, “in supposing a veil on purpose drawn over some scenes of infinite power and wisdom and goodness, the sight of which might some way or other strike us too strongly; or that better ends are designed and served by their being concealed than could be attained by their being exposed to view.” In a word, then, reason teaches us much,—even putting us in the way of understanding why it does not teach us more; and thus we are led up to a reasoning and reasonable faith,—faith in
“ That God who ever lives and loves,
One God, one Lord, one element;
The Connection between Reason
THE FUNCTION OF FAITH.
“ HAVING boldness, ... by the blood
of Christ, .. . let us draw near . .. in full assurance of faith. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. . . . Call ever to remembrance the former days, in which, when first enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of suffering, ... and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye had for your own a better and an abiding possession. Cast not away your confidence. . . . Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen. ... By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that
what is seen was not made of things which appear. . . . He that cometh to God by faith must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” The writer then proceeds to mention instances of patriarchal faith, the most illustrative example, perhaps, being that of Moses: “By faith, Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forSook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the kingfor he endured as seeing Him who is unseeable.
The time would fail me to tell of Gideon and of Barak and of Samson and of Jephthah, of David also and Samuel, and of the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, . . . escaped the edge of the sword, . . . turned to flight the armies of the aliens, (or contrariwise) were tortured, stoned, or sawn asunder, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. These all having had witness borne to them on