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Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen. — Paul. Heb. 11:1
Jesus laid great stress on faith in all his teaching. He said that faith as a grain of mustard seed — denoting a very meagre degree of faith — would move mountains and make all material things subject to the will. He often told people that their faith had healed them, and sometimes rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith, and told them that they failed to heal, in some cases, on account of their want of faith.
God being perfectly good and wise, never did an imperfect work nor changed anything he has made for man's asking. The fact is, God's work of expression is finished, and he rests in an eternal activity of unfoldment on the seventh day, and all the treasures of his creating are ours, the only lack being in our realization of the truth. God has already done everything for us, commensurate with our unfoldment, and pushed out toward us just as far as we will permit, every good gift the heart could desire, and the hope, or the longing, we feel is only a premonition, or a prophecy, indicating to us that the thing hoped for is at hand and already ours for the taking. So we catch the true meaning of the text: that faith is the "assurance," or "substance," as the common version has it, of those things we feel ought to be ours; or the "proving" that they really exist, and have always existed as "things not seen."
If you have not faith you cannot see the hidden treasures. If you had all faith, if your eye were single, would then be full of light and you would know that all things are yours, for "ye are Christ's and Christ is God's" (I Cor. 3:23)
You would then know just what and how to decree at all times, as Jesus did, and the thing decreed would appear, or "come to pass," according to your faith-word.
This is the prayer Jesus had reference to when he spoke of praying as if ye had already received — that is, declaring the truth of that which forever is.
How have we been praying? All over the earth rises up to-day a cry for things poor mortals think they want and have not. At this hour, mothers and fathers are despairingly asking their God to save the children in thousands of sorrow-stricken homes. Sinners, trembling at their nightmare dream of hell, are beseeching God to pardon them for transgressing His law, and cleanse them from Adam's sin, in thousands of secret and public places. Hundreds of thousands of wretches, scared at their dipsomaniac vision of poverty, are crying to their God to give them bread and clothes and shelter, and are not heard. No such prayers are ever answered in the direct granting of the thing desired. The entreaty of fear and despair is not the prayer of the righteous that availeth much.
People have been but too sadly mocked by promises of sure answer to prayers that were only craven begging, to a false ideal of God.
God knows that all the blessings these poor beggars want are theirs already in the unmanifest realm. Why don't they reach out the arm of faith and take what they will? They have deliberately allowed the dense veil of materiality to be drawn over the eyes of their understanding, so they do not see the rich supply, and the sweet, wholesome, happy health, and the sparkling fountains of Life's crystal river all about them.
O, brother! O, sister! God cannot do more for you than He is already doing. All things but await your realizing faith, or assuring proof to bring them to pass. You must manifest what is yours in the unmanifest.
Could Infinite Goodness withhold any good thing from Its own children? You have always been told that He is more willing to give than we are to receive. We are very anxious to receive, and weep and beseech often, and yet do not seem to receive. If God is more willing than this intense anxiety would indicate, what is the attitude of God in the matter? To surpass our willingness, He must really give the "thing hoped for." This He has done, dear hearts. Look up. Only rise on the wings of a realizing faith into the current of the flowing of Infinite wealth and fall in with the winds of its coming.
All things are yours, but the things of God cannot come to pass to you in the visible, material form directly from the realms of Spirit without the formulating, externalizing Word of faith; for Spirit Universal knows not matter at all and hears no mortal cry. All that God has given you in expression is real — spiritual, not material. It is your faith that must demonstrate this by the Word, and so make manifest the things you need in the external.
If it is money, you have plenty of the real treasure already; your Father has given it to you from the forever. But your faith-word must bring to view that wealth in the symbolical silver and gold according to your need.
Is it health of body you seek? Your real body, the body God made, is already sound and well in every part. A perfect maker could make no other.
You "live and move and have your being" in God, and there is no sickness in Him. Declare this truth in the light of faith, and it will manifest itself in the external body of yourself, or of others for whom you make this "prayer of faith." You thus awake to the full apprehension of your God-given greatness and perfectness, and not until you do this, can you "see the kingdom of God."
And this is true of any other desire of the heart. Know that the thing desired is already yours in the real, and but awaits the formulating power of the word, that pray "believing ye have received" (which you have), to externalize it.
This is faith. It is the eye of the Spirit — the eye that is "single," and which sees in itself that all things are yours, and nerves and directs the arm of power, which is the Word, so that it may bring them to pass in the actual.
Believing and trusting have been confounded with faith by theologians. Neither is faith. I may believe that my child will recover from sickness — I may even trust in my belief in God that he will heal the child, and yet, if I do not rise to a realization of the truth of His absolute, everlasting health in the real body, and of the nothingness of the delusion of disease, my belief and my trust will not avail anything, although I may weep and beseech most piteously. Martha's belief in a future resurrection could not raise Lazarus; but Jesus' faith did. Faith is never disappointed, for it is the realization of the ever-existent completeness of things. But belief and trust are often destroyed from being centered on fallible things.
We can never have faith in anything fallible or mortal for there can be no realization in that which fails and dies. The fallibilty of the mortal proves its nothingness or unsubstantiality, while faith is "the substance of things." So long as the Canaanitish woman believed in Jesus as the " son of David," or mortal man, she had no faith. But when she "drew near" she changed her belief in the man Jesus to faith in the Christ, for she began to call Him "Lord ," and the Master at once said, "Be it unto thee as thou wilt." Anything you will is now yours — no limit. "O woman, great is thy faith."
Jesus only waited till the Christ was recognized through faith, and she had risen to the understanding of the presence of the power of the Lord, and then all things were hers. You notice that He spoke no healing word, no "come forth," as at the tomb of Lazarus, no "talitha cumi," as to Jairus' daughter, no "come out of her," as at other times when he "cast out demons." It is "unto thee as thou wilt." He did not heal the child by his direct word at all, but it was, as at another time one touched the hem of His garment, and He said "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole." This woman's faith had made her child whole. "It was her faith that seized the balm in Gilead, first hand, which God had prepared from the foundation of the world for the healing of her child. She could then have said to the mountain, " Be thou removed and cast into the sea," and it would have been so, had her faith been as great in this as it was in the healing of her child, for it was greater than a grain of mustard seed.
Her child was healed from that hour.
Belief, or trust, can never do this. It may put you into a condition to receive the reflex of the faith of another, for yourself or some dear one, but it can never do the work.
Jesus sometimes said to those asking relief, "Believest thou that I can do this?" If they did believe, then they were in that receptive state which made them susceptible to the influence of the healing power of the faith in Jesus. Sometimes He found the mind in a blank, or unexpressed state, as in the case of the man who came out of the tombs, or of the epileptic boy, and peremptorily commanded the demon to come out. In some places He "did not many mighty works" on account of the unbelief of the people. See how he treated the people at the tomb of Lazarus for belief! When they persisted in their doubting, His tone is plaintive and sad — for he had been weeping — when he at last said to Martha, "Said I not unto thee that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Then He said to the Father, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me:" (praying as if He had already received, for He had), "and I know that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the people which stand by, I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me." (A treatment for belief).'
This belief has no healing, or working efficiency, in itself. It was only the "things hoped for," of which Jesus' faith was the substance, which came to Lazarus in resurrection. Faith heals, while belief only waits for the healing potency in the word of another, to trouble the waters. Belief leans and depends; faith takes hold and executes. Martha, with her faith in Jesus, could not have raised Lazarus: Jesus, with his faith in God, did. "By faith the worlds were made."
Abraham's faith saved Isaac from the knife of his belief. He believed that God wished him to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering to God, and faithfully prepared to put his belief into practice. This faithfulness led him to see that it was only a dedication of the dearest idol of his heart to God that God required, and not a slaying and burning, as his belief had led him to suppose. And his faith, furthermore, externalized the symbol of that consecration, in the ram that appeared with his horns entangled in the thicket. He had supposed that Isaac was his own son, and forgotten that he was sent of God for a purpose as one born out of time, and this dedication was required to remind him of this, and to establish both of them in the realizing faith of what was to afterward appear, according to promise.
Abiding with faith and keeping its word is the seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and never having to directly seek other things at all ; for they are added. O, child of earth, why longer grovel and grope for satisfaction among the unstable, failing things of mortal sense? How long will ye dwell in the realm of weakness and humiliation? "Why will ye die?" It is yours to rise and walk by faith and be as God in power and freedom and peace. Come forth and stand in the light of God. Here is heaven and now eternity. "I am, the way," says the Christ, the one man, "the falsehood ye have been taught that death and the grave are the passport and portal to heaven and eternity, is now exposed in the clear light of truth." Be ye free and fear not, for " the earth is yours and the fullness thereof, and the world and they that dwell therein." Be no longer slaves to passion and matter. Faith makes thee whole. It makes thee to know that thou art rich and happy and beloved. All power is in faith and from it springs every quality in perfect Principle, from Hope on to Love, than which there is nothing higher. Listen how it comes, link by link, in a beautiful concatenation of unfoldment:
"In your faith supply virtue (strength, power)" (II Pet. 1). This Power is the first fruitage of the things hoped for." Power, virtue, is the first "thing not seen" that faith proves, or gives us assurance. When the women touched the hem of Jesus' garment, it is written, "And straightway Jesus perceiving in himself that the power ('virtue,' in the common version) "proceeding from him had gone forth, said," (Mark 5:30) etc.
The healing power which was all the time "proceeding from him" had gone forth to another, and he said, "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole. Not My faith.
So we find in divine science, that power to work miracles ... is the first thing made manifest.
So we find in divine science, that power to work miracles — so-called — is the first thing made manifest. Jesus promised power as the first fruits of faith.
This power prevails over disease and all mortal conditions at once, when the faith is realized. We come into a manly dignity, conveyed in the meaning of the word virtue, not before known. A grand integrity and scrupulous honor begin to prove themselves as native to us, but which were only "hoped for," and struggled for before.
Faith thus adds to itself, or supplies in itself, or develops, virtue, or power, and manly integrity, which has mastery over all mortal seemings. This virtue was always in the germ of being, as a thing hoped for, but not seen, and faith has made it bloom out and show itself as "substance," or "assured;" is "proved" in the word of power. This power is the life principle of faith. "Faith without works" (the product of power), says James, "is dead" (James 2:17). Faith without this power is empty profession of the lips, which the preachers have taught, that never proves in healing of sick and raising the fallen. It is no faith at all — "dead."
"Thus faith and works together grow;
No separate life they e'er can know;
There're soul and body, hand and heart;
What God hath joined let no man part."
- Hannah More
The next thing "hoped for" springs right out of this power, or virtue. It is knowledge.
The next thing "hoped for" springs right out of this power, or virtue. It is knowledge. "In your virtue supply knowledge" (II Pet. 1:5). The living faith, or faith with power, leads into an understanding of the God presence that nothing else could unfold. It opens the soul to the sunshine and showers of Spirit, so that wisdom and understanding unfurl their beautiful petals from within, and the waters of cleansing roll out from the well-springs of the heart like the crystal river from the throne of God and the Lamb. The secret lore of eternal wisdom is known to be yours, as you develop the power. Knowledge always grows out of active energy. You have observed this law in your ordinary affairs. You may learn a lesson from a teacher, or a book, as thoroughly as possible, theoretically, and yet you never really know it until you put your theory into practice. To tell a spiritual truth always lets in a new light upon us; and you do not more than half know a studied principle until you have systematically stated it in writing and applied it in demonstration." If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine."
So, you see, this working power of faith supplies in itself knowledge. That knowledge which makes you steadfast in your faith, and sure and efficient in your work. It enables you to see at once what is needed in a case wanting treatment. You did not know this when you first came into this faith. It was then blind faith, and you had to use the formulas in healing. But now the light of true wisdom dawns out through the working power of faith, and you see the right word at once.
But the apostle proceeds in perfectly systematic order, you perceive, to trace the fruits of faith. "In your knowledge supply temperance," or self-control. Behold how beautifully the "things hoped for" fall in! All our lives we were fighting this and that evil tendency and the natural depravity taught in the creeds, and smothering this and that wayward feeling, or impulse, and trying to curb excesses, but were never quite able to suppress them, and not at all to eradicate them.
This knowledge shines in, and all darkness disappears. All excesses drop away and error tendencies die. It is like touching the button that completes the circuit in the Edison incandescent light apparatus. The two arcs of the electrode, one leading into the other out of the elongated bulb, representing the heart of man, convey the fluid, representing Love, into and out of the heart (bulb), and when the circuit is complete, all the inner chamber is at once effulgent with a light which makes darkness impossible. 'Tis the love of God and love of neighbor, on the two electrodes of the heart, flowing in and out; one Love. This temperance cleanses the life and straightens all the walks and ways of men and clears away the rubbish from the chambers of his secret thought. It is not the New Year's Day resolution, nor the pledge of abstinence. They only try to hide and smuggle and sweep all the trash of life's pathway back into the closets and under the furniture, just so as to keep it out of sight. It is the temperance and self-control of the knowledge which springs from the working power of faith, that lights and ventilates and cleanses and purifies—cleanses the impurities from secret places, and casts out the skeleton of the closet forever.
And let us see what follows this temperance of true wisdom, this perfect self-control. "In your temperance supply," patience or endurance.
And let us see what follows this temperance of true wisdom, this perfect self-control. "In your temperance supply," patience or endurance. Did you ever feel cross and impatient and petulant and despondent, and wonder what made you that way? It was nothing more nor less than the presence of the skeleton in the closet; the shadow of dead works and the follies and rubbish you have been hiding away in the secret places of your life, in your efforts at reform and conformity to rules of conduct, for the sake of appearance. A person in bad health is often so. Bad health is a sign of wrong thoughts. A person with a secret crime, or bad habits, is haunted by these phantoms. Such have no patience, no buoyancy of hope, no long-suffering forbearance for the shortcomings of their fellow-men, no serene tenacity of principle that enables the man to stand up smiling and calm in the storm and in the dark hours and to serenely rise strengthened from every seeming failure.
The temperance of knowledge, as we have seen, sweetens all the aspects of life so that the fortitude and patience of a pure heart show forth unfalteringly in all the avenues of being. Circumstance and environment no longer enslave us, for we know in whom we have placed our reliance and are masters over our bodies and affairs. Add to your temperance patience, or rather this God-like patience sequentially follows the clean temperance of understanding.
God-like? Ah! now we are nearing home, approaching our Father's house. "In your patience supply Godliness"
God-like? Ah! now we are nearing home, approaching our Father's house. "In your patience supply Godliness" — God-like-ness. The "image and likeness" begins to shine forth in its pristine beauty now, through the long-suffering kindness of patience. In His image and likeness were you created, and now the clearing away and uplifting of this faith process begins to reveal the clear-cut beauty of the original coin — the God-likeness. You now begin to shine with the completeness which is in the Father. This process has lifted and strengthened and enlightened you as you never were before. Now for the first time in this symphonic volution, have you shown forth the completeness of outline in your divine individuality. In your patience has been evolved your true self.
But God-likeness is love likeness, for God is Love. So Love, the essence of the soul, now begins to reach out to others. "In your Godliness supply love for the brethren" (II Pet. 1:7) Glorious consummation! "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10).
The first thing that manifests itself in your God-likeness is love, for God is Love. You now begin to reach out with unselfish devotion to the good, that you may lift and help and heal your brother. Thus you are coming nearer and nearer your home.
As you manifest your God-likeness, the love for the brethren, which is even as that for yourself (for ye are one), goes forth and returns to open up the heart to the full effulgence of your completeness in Love.
And now comes the grand finale in this diving symphony of the "things hoped for," in faith: "In your love for the brethren supply Love."
And now comes the grand finale in this diving symphony of the "things hoped for," in faith: "In your love for the brethren supply Love." The circuit is now complete, and the whole body is full of light. The purifying power of love makes it impossible to be other than good. Home at last! Safe in our Father's house! One with Love — a complete manhood in Christ. Faith is realizing this unity.
"Now abide faith, hope, and Love, these three; and the greatest of these is Love" (I Cor. 13:13). Hope is the premonition, or prophecy, of what is; faith is the assurance, or the substance coming to light; and Love is the only reality — is God. Hope says there are undeveloped realities hidden in the sanctum sanctorum of the soul, undiscovered treasures that will make you blessed indeed. Faith goes to work and brings these treasures out, one by one, and sets them as gems in the diadem of life, until the coronation is consummated in Love, in the perfect at-one-ment; virtue, knowledge, temperance, God-likeness, love for brethren, LOVE.
Such is the perfect work of faith. In this fullness of its fruition is no fear and no evil. In it you don't have to "quit your meanness," it quits you; you no longer "try" to be good, for right conduct is now easy and natural. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God (Love), and that the spirit of God (Love) dwelleth in you?" (I Cor. 3:16) But when "ye have made my Father's house a den of thieves," Love comes with this whip of small cords to put them forth. It is the fulfilling of the law.
Don't be mistaken about love. It is not the partiality, or affinity, two persons may feel for each other. This, if good and pure, and purged of all selfishness, is one of the products of love. If not, it may be jealousy, or lust. Love combines and makes one, all the elements which led on, through the working power of faith, up to its full shining out to bless the world in realization. For love must irradicate. 'Tis its nature. It cannot be shut in. Love that beams not, is not love. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar."
Let Paul now sing the triumphal song of victory. Listen! "Love suffereth long and is kind," etc. Get your Bible and read it, the grandest Love anthem ever written. It is the 13th chapter of I. Corinthians. His measures ring out like bugle calls in the battle of life. Each note is full of inspiration to do and dare. "Love never faileth." Love is all, thank God; and there is no fear, or hate, and "nothing that maketh a lie." "Though I sell all I have and give to the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, I am as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal." It knows no friend or foe. There is no respect of persons in it, for it is God. It looked up from the cross on Calvary, and lifting the slayers of Jesus in its arms, said: "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do." It blesses, and curses not; "suffers long, and is kind," and "endureth all things."
Faith has made his love to shine forth in healing, uplifting, joy, gladness and supply. "If ye do these things ye shall never fail." By faith we turned away from "the weak and beggarly elements of the world," and commenced the sublime upward march toward realization of God, or love, till we have proved the things our hope foreshadowed. 'Tis the lamp of perfect understanding which reveals the truth that man is divine; one with Love.
Hope, Faith and Love: these three! Glory-beaming trinity of eternal life! Three in one and one in three! The intuition, the light and the unity, but the greatest is the unity, the one-ness with God.
When the procession from the dawning of faith to the fullness of love is finished, the man knows that he is one with God.
When the procession from the dawning of faith to the fullness of love is finished, the man knows that he is one with God. Then all is well, for he realizes that only the good is true, and that no evil ever could be in God's universe, for no evil is true, and that "all power is given unto me (man), both in heaven and in earth." He sees only good, for he dwells in the higher realms of spirit, and there is no evil anywhere there, and he knows that
"More and more a Providence
Of love is understood,
Making the springs of time and sense
Sweet with eternal good.
"And care and trial seem at last
Through memory's sunset air,
Like mountain ranges overpast,
In purple distance fair:—
"And all the jarring notes of life
Seem blended in a Psalm,
And all the angels of its strife
Slow rounding into calm.
"And so the shadows fall apart,
And so the west winds play;
And all the windows of the heart
He opens to the day."