Faith Hope and Love

W. John Murray
The Astor Lectures
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1917, 8th ed.

[99] Faith is a conviction of the Truth. There are several kinds of faith; live faith, which is productive, and faith which is negative, and therefore non-productive. There is, too, an elected faith which is pure. It is this faith the attainment of which is the first step in the direction of salvation. God fashioned the world with it. It is the axis upon which the universe has revolved ever since its ordination as the spectacle of nature. Without faith the world would collapse. According to Paul, through faith we have access to God; we stand by faith; we walk by faith; we live by faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen, were not made of things which do appear.”

Faith is that act of the intellect by which we are conscious of the things which are not visible to the senses, the things which are spiritual and eternal. Faith is indispensable to life because it is the substance of life. Nothing could be accomplished from the winking of an eye to the rotation of the earth on its axis without faith. Faith, in truth, is an impregnable wall of defense [100] against error; it is the only remedy for war which sets at naught law and truth; it unwraps “the cloud of flesh” in which all mankind is enveloped and from “their senses their thick mist unfold,” enabling the creation of God to appear. Jesus attributed the cures that he wrought to the faith of his patients. Peter healed the “man lame from his birth,” and the cripple, “leaping up, stood and walked–praising God,” and the people “were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him,” for the lame man was healed. The people wondered, and Peter, seeing their astonishment, said: “Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? It is his faith which hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all”; his faith in truth as represented by the name of Jesus the Christ. Shakespeare says:

“Who would these fardles bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourne
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.”

But instead it is not the fear of other ills that unites mankind to life; it is his faith in the continuity of life that enables him to endure the vicissitudes [101] of existence! It was not fear of other ills that held the apostles to life when “they were stoned, sawn asunder, slain with the sword” as they wandered “in deserts, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.” They were destitute, afflicted, tortured, mocked, and scourged, as, sustained by faith, they suffered and endured, while waiting a better resurrection.

Surely men who knew the presence of such torments would not fear “ills” of which they knew not. It is not the fear of death “that makes cowards of us all”; instead it is lack of faith which causes “the native hue of resolution to lose the name of action.” Lack of faith in righteousness is responsible for wrongdoing.

It is said that every drop of blood that is shed calls forth a sea of tears; yet if one man had had faith in the fact that to God “belongeth vengeance and recompense,” rivers of blood would have been spared in these past three years. So it is that men must have more faith in peace to avert the horrors of war, more faith in life to avert death, and more faith in health to avoid sickness. [102] When you fan the air about you, fresh air immediately flows in to take the place of that just dissipated; in the same manner to drive away doubt admit warm currents of faith.

Faith is essential to success in any and every department of life. A man may have a gold mine hidden in his cornfield, but unless he has faith in its existence, he is deprived of the use of the gold. “It is only the finite that suffers,” says Emerson; “the Infinite lies stretched in smiling repose,” and as we increase our faith in our indissoluable connection with the Supreme Self, the finite will put on infinity and by so doing will cease to suffer. In India, there is a tree which is called the sacred Banyan, and in Hindu symbolism it is the tree of life. The branches of this tree bend to the ground where they take root and form new stocks, till they cover many hundred feet in circumference. Every tree is a whole made up of innumerable parts, each of which is a likeness of the whole. Through each separate tree, the life of the whole circulates. It is thus with our relation to Christ. We are included in him, and he abides in us. We shall prove this in proportion to our faith in the truth of this divine relationship.

The righteousness of Faith is sufficient to confirm us in the knowledge that we live and move and have our being in Christ. Faith in this verity not only saves our “soul” but it also saves our bodies from the ravages of disease.

Faith is the hub of the universe; it is the cause [103] of which Hope–which is the bread of life–is the idea. Without hope no man can live. Hope is to life what the sun is to its rays. When the noonday sun of withering anguish would consume our faith, hope is the precious dew that comes down from heaven and revives it. When we walk in the valley of the shadow or perhaps linger in its gloom, it is hope that sustains us through the gloaming; it is hope that rolls away the stone from the door of the tomb.

When the ravages of despair would snatch reason from a man it is hope that saves him from himself. Jesus fed on hope. It was the bread that came down from heaven and nourished him in the gloom of his earthly betrayal. Hope was the infinite power that transmuted the ignominy of the crucifixion into a glorious resurrection. When the soul would “turn itself back to re-behold the past, which never yet a living person left,” it is hope that leads the soul back to its source in its search for truth. Lord Byron said that if it were not for hope the future would be in hell.

Hope, like a light set upon a rock, averts many a human shipwreck and directs mariners, who are lost in the fog of doubt, back to the right course. Dante has said that spiritual healing is wrought by “the living hope that places its efficacy in prayers to God.” Likewise, as the sunlight in the damp woods coaxes tender and beautiful plants out of the dark earth, so hope beguiles from the dark recesses of the mind golden talents [104] which would be hidden from anything less far-seeing than hope.

Hope is a mighty General, and her battles are won without loss of men, for she conquers by the force of right, rather than by strife. “Everywhere,” says Heine, “that a great soul gives utterance to its thoughts, there is a Golgotha,” and it may be well added that where a crucifixion has not taken place a savior has never been resurrected. It is the cross out of which the crown has been evolved, and he who would wear a crown of rejoicing cannot avoid bearing the cross.

Hope is expressed in Love, and Love is born of God. Therefore Love is eternal and indestructible. It is the only Creator, and it is the all of creation. It is the force that holds the earth on its axis; it is life’s sun in its completion. Love is the most powerful thing in the world. It is in subjection to nothing; it is the ruler of the universe; it is the all in all of life. Loves reigns in heaven and rules on earth. “Many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it. If a man would give all the substance of his house for Love, it would utterly be condemned.” Love knows not station. It is found equally among the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the learned and the ignorant. It is the gift of God to all humanity. It is the expression of which hope is the idea, and of which faith is the cause. To pervert one’s sense of Love is to do violence to the Highest. To misdirect the [105] application of one’s sense of Love is to charge God with caprice, cruelty and jealousy–for God is Love. Love, therefore, is unchangeable and incorruptible.

Men may mistake passion for love and commit in its name atrocious deeds and frightful crimes, and then charge the account to Love, but Love enthroned in the eternal heaven of unity to too pure to behold iniquity and thus it is never conscious of anything outside of its own purity. Love is life, and Love is death. These seeming opposites are in reality one and the same, for, in its ultimate meaning, love is death, and in its last analysis it is life. The greater love lays down its life for its friend. Love, then, is the highest form of humanity, and humanity dies unto its human form to take up its substance in Spirit. “Perfect love casteth out fear,” and death robbed of fear is seen to be life. “Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.” Beloved, if God so loved us, we must love one another. If any man say “’I love God,’ and he hateth his brother, he is a liar.” That he who loveth God must love his brother is the law of Christ, who is God. We are told that “they (the disciples) loved not their lives unto the death,” and the explanation to this verse is found in Luke’s version, where Jesus, talking of himself, tells the people of his approaching death and says: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily [106] and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall find it.” Those who “loved not their lives unto death” were those who voluntarily exposed themselves to death rather than deny their faith in God as the only reality, hence it is in death that the humanity of love is transmuted to its primal divinity. Vain thoughts about Love do not affect Love, nor do they concern this divine substance which “covereth all sins.” But they seriously affect man, inasmuch as by following the shadow of lust he loses the substance of Love.

When men say that they wage war for love of country they deceive themselves, for they have mistaken the lust of possession for the love of country. When a man mistakes a passion, jealous or otherwise, for love, he has mistaken a shade for sunlight. Love knows neither passion nor lust and Love can never be defined as anything more or less than Love.

The world talks of love, but it does not understand it, and therefore it is denied its inheritance, the reign of peace. Love is life; therefore to know love, we must live it, in no other way can we understand it. The love of righteousness excludes the love of wrongdoing as certainly as “one poison doth exclude by kind another’s force.”

When Jesus and those of his disciples who understood him laid down their lives, and their tormentors ridiculed them while they were crucifying [107] these great lovers of humanity, neither Jesus nor his disciples asked why fire from heaven did not descend and kill these persecutors, or why “to swallow” these “the earth did not cleave asunder.” Instead they realized that the hearts of their tormentors “were fertile land, although unwrought by love,” and that verily they knew not what they did. It is thus that “every bondman bears in his own hand the power to cancel his captivity,” for Love is the universal liberator.

Love is the essence of life, and therefore we do not live until we love. We talk of love, not realizing of what we are talking; “believing that they speak the truth, and not believing” in that which is true, namely Love. Therein lies their “sin and shame.” We are starving for love with love all about us; “blind covetousness has cast its spell upon us and has made us like unto a little child who drives off its nurse and dies of hunger.”

Light is Love. We live and move and have our being in Love, and its divine light “so penetrates the universe according to its merit that naught can be an obstacle against it.” Not sleeping, we nevertheless dream that there is a dearth of Love on earth, when Love is Life, and the earth is teeming with life, but having eyes we see not. Your Lord, your Christ, your God of Gods is Love. Love is the “spirit divine which in the way of going up, directs us without asking.” Love is the divine healer and the universal pardoner [108] of all that is unlike good, for the love of right causes mankind to forsake sin.

Tears are Love’s pearls, and sorrow is her crown; by the tears of sincere repentance the sinner is washed “so white, no snow unto that limit doth attain.” Hate is powerless in Love’s presence, and the “inward vultures of avarice and greed” forsake their prey and flee at Love’s approach.

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