By Sophia Van Marter
ONE OF the most powerful expositions on the subject of faith is in the 11th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews: "Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).
Faith is the substance, the actual substance, of things that are hoped for, and the evidence, to your consciousness — I want to say more than subconscious mind — the evidence to your real self, of the existence of things when they are not yet seen.
Read the 11th chapter of Hebrews, to and including the 39th verse.
"And these all ... had witness borne to them through their faith." It is not surprising that after the miracle of the loaves and fishes — the feeding of more than five thousand people out of one little boy's luncheon basket containing two little fishes and five little buns — the disciples of Jesus came to Him with a request something like this: "Teach us how to do the works of God." No wonder they wanted to know how, after such an experience!
"This is the work of God, that ye believe." Believing does not mean struggling, running here and there, striving and straining to the uttermost. "This is the work of God, that ye believe."
And what are you to believe, and how? You are to believe in Him that is sent to you. You are to believe in the inherent power of the divinity within you, if you want to do the works of which we have just read.
When Peter was attempting to walk on the water, he looked at the waves and saw that they were boisterous, and he began to sink. Jesus reproved him — for what? Note, please, that Jesus did not reprove anything outside Peter, though the waves were boisterous. Many a person says that if only his aunt, or his uncle, or his sister, or his mother-in-law would do this or that, everything would be smooth in his life. Jesus did not say to Peter, "If these waves were only smooth, or if there were only a bridge across here, you could come to me." Jesus reproved Peter for lacking something that he should have had within himself: "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
Why do you question? Why do you look at the outside appearance, at the thing as the objective senses report it?
The moment you look at the outside appearance of anything that you have taken by faith, you violate the law of faith. You must look entirely away from the outside conditions. The moment you throw in a little questioning, or a little doubting, or say that your cold is not gone, or the headache, or the other ailment, that moment you violate the law of faith and put into it an element that will hinder your demonstration. You work against your own success.
You often hear a person say, "Oh, I have worked so long, and I have worked so faithfully, without success!", but when you begin to question him you find that he has somewhere, sometime, perhaps almost all his life, looked at the appearance, hence the demonstration of good has not followed. If you persist in looking at the outside appearance of that which you want to get rid of, it is sure to stay, because you bind it to you.
We live in the universal ether. In it we live and move and have our being. It is formless, but it is pliable, and it forms about us, in us, and around us according to our own thought and word. We set it into activity by that which we think; that which manifests to us objectively is that which we have thought.
Do not let newspaper accounts of accidents and crime sink into your consciousness as reality. Meet every suggestion of evil with a denial of its power and a positive affirmation of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God, good. Keep your mind filled with eternal Truth, so that your faith can function in the pure substance of Spirit, through which alone good can come to you.
There is a law of faith. When we understand the law it seems very simple. We have not manifested more faith because we lack understanding. We have not understood that everything works in exact accordance with definite law. There is a law of faith, Paul tells us in the 3d chapter of Romans, by which we can bring anything to pass. If you want a good lesson on faith, read that chapter.
There is a law of faith as definite as the laws of mathematics, or the laws of chemistry, or the laws of acoustics, or the laws of electricity. It would be rather a serious undertaking for some one to try to handle electric wiring if he knew nothing about what might happen when he touched a live wire. It is safer to know something of the law. We have touched live wires and brought unwanted things into our life; we have touched live wires and destroyed cherished things. There is no magic about it; it is absolute law.
We want to know that faith is a law, a working principle.
Now, for a few practical points. Your faith will work for you on three planes of consciousness. First, on the lower, or objective, you can bring a great deal to pass, just by thinking and believing. Then, on the mental plane, which is a higher plane, if you hold firmly enough, much can be brought about. The spiritual plane is where miracles, or what we call miracles, are done. A soul that can be so conscious of its union with God that it rouses its own divinity can bring anything to pass.
The spiritual is the plane that I want to emphasize. The one point that I want to make clear is that you can identify yourself so definitely with God that you will be conscious of your union with God, until all things, just as Jesus said, will be possible to you. Do I mean it? Yes. All things, small and great, whatsoever you say, shall be possible to you if you have faith and doubt not.
Many things that have seemed utterly absurd and impossible to us would be just as easy as using the multiplication table, if we understood the law. Now and then we hear an address on faith. We find that some of the workers of ancient times, not only Bible characters, but others, did marvelous things. It was said of Iamblichus that he discovered that he could make the eagles fly here and there, according to his will, and that he discovered also that he could rule the atmosphere, the water, the tempest. Have you ever tried it? It is not difficult. Have you never, when you have read Shakespeare's "Tempest," wondered how Prospero could have had the power of ruling the unseen forces? He had no power that you do not have, that I do not have. If you will read Shakespeare's "Tempest" carefully you will see that some wonderful things are mentioned. They are not such as we have been reading about in Hebrews, however.
In Shakespeare's "Tempest" and in the Gospel account of Jesus' stilling the waves, we observe that the weather was controlled. Have you ever tried it? Oh, you can do it perfectly! It is not so very difficult. You must first know that you can do it, that you can control tempest and water and rain. You can do it exactly as Elijah did, only you do not want to do anything that will hurt any person. When we identify ourselves with the Infinite, we do nothing to harm any one.
Several years ago in England, in the part of Northumberland where my relatives live, the Tweed was overflowing. It was flooding the fields, the water was getting into the farmers' houses, and the sheep were being washed away. One man said that he saw a cradle going down on the flood. But I said, "There is a higher law that can control this." I managed to get over to a stone bridge, and I stood there, and I said to the waters: "In the name of Jesus Christ, go down. You cannot go into the farmers' houses and wash away the cradles and the sheep, and the things that are needed. Go down! Go down!" It did not go down in one minute, but I stood there and said, "In the name of Jesus Christ, recede; recede."
Did the law work? Yes, it did. I stood there until almost evening, but before I had gone, the flood had gone; and that was the end of it for that year. I tried the law when the flood came again, and it worked again.
The law will work for you when you are working with the law and working in the universal for the good of all concerned. You can so protect your property, your homes, yourselves, that nothing can hurt them or you.
My daughter promised the neighborhood school children a picnic on her eldest child's birthday, which came in the summer. The rain poured for a whole week immediately before the date set for the picnic. My daughter and my son-in-law were away, but were to arrive that day. The agent came to me and said, "We might just as well give up the picnic, because all the weather reports say that it will storm all day. I think I had better send around word that there will be no picnic." I said: "Yes, there will be a picnic, and there will be sunshine. Put the tents up, and give all the orders [because the pupils from five schools were coming], and say that there will be a picnic at this castle this afternoon." He was amazed, but he obeyed.
I went into one of the towers, and said, "I praise God for the dazzling effulgence of this blazing sunshine." The rain was pouring down, and the papers had announced that it would rain all day. I stayed there an hour, repeating, "I praise God for the dazzling effulgence of this glorious sunshine which is now shining." Before noon the sun shone. The children had their picnic.
You can, at your every attempt, reap the benefits of working in harmony with the law, provided you are doing nothing that will injure another.
Faith will apply to everything in our life. Let us begin with ourselves. Let us transform our own mind and our own body, and then let us live for the universal good of humanity.
We have some wonderful examples of eminent men of faith. I do not hold Napoleon up as an example of Christianity, but I ask you to consider the attitude that he took when men said that it was impossible for an army to cross the Alps. He said, "There shall be no Alps."
"There shall be no Alps" to God's children. There are no obstacles to the faith of God in you. Everything is possible to him who believes.
Mo3t of you know something about the life and the works of George Miiller and his orphanage at Bristol. He was at one time the guest of a friend of mine, at whose house he often stopped, and he said — you will find the same thing recorded in his diary, which has now been published — "I am not saying a bit too much, nor exaggerating in the least, when I say that I have had, in the same day in which I asked, at least thirty thousand answers to prayer and many of them in the same hour."
He said, "I have received in answer to prayer, without speaking to one living soul, $5,063,850."
How did he do it? By trusting God implicitly. I will tell you of one little incident that will give you the key to all his success. This incident occurred after he had established his various orphanages, in which he fed 2,000 children. He had a very faithful steward, a man who had given his life to the work of caring for these orphan children. George Miiller never allowed his orphanages to buy on credit. He wanted no debts. One day, twenty minutes before dinner time, this steward said, "There is no bread, and no money with which to buy bread." Mr. Miiller said, "Go and have the dinner prepared; there will be bread."
Most people would have walked the floor and said, "This time I think we must go in debt." Twenty minutes until dinner, and 2,000 children to be fed, and yet he said, "Have the dinner prepared and the table ready; there will be bread." In ten minutes the man came back and said: "Mr. Miiller, there is no bread. It is almost dinner time."
Mr. Miiller said, "Go; there will be bread."
Five minutes before time for the bell to ring, the man came back, and Mr. Miiller said: "Go, and never come to me again with such a report. There is bread."
Just at that moment a baker's wagon came tearing up to the door with a big load of bread, and the children had their dinner. How surprised and delighted the steward must have been! But that was not the end. After dinner Mr. Miiller sent for his steward, and said: "I am very sorry, but you will have to go. I cannot afford to have a man in my house who doubts God for twenty minutes. You must go."
Do you see the point that I am trying to make? When you have taken anything by faith, stand by it, and say. "I have it." Do as the three men did in the fiery furnace, when they took this position: "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; ... be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Dan. 3:17-18)
These three men represent the souls that are conscious of their union with God, that recognize their own inherent divinity and omnipotent power. You must get into conscious union with God. You must know how to get still before God, to hush the outer passions, the outer clamoring for things.
A lady came to me and said: "It is easy enough to make a demonstration. There was something I wanted, and I got it in six weeks; and then I worked six years to get rid of him." She wanted him, and she got him, and then she suffered a great deal of sorrow and pain in getting rid of him.
What do we want? We want to go into the silence, to get still, and say, "I delight myself in the Lord." Do you remember that wonderful 37th Psalm — "Delight thyself also in Jehovah; and he will give thee the desires of thy heart"? He will put the highest desires of the infinite mind into your mind. God and one are always a majority, and nothing can by any means hinder you.
A few words as to how to go to work to cultivate and establish faith. You can cultivate faith as well as you can cultivate a plant, or anything else. If you intended to study chemistry or mathematics, the first thing that you would do would be to get a good book on chemistry or a good book on mathematics. The best textbook on a living and powerful faith is the Bible. Study the words of the greatest metaphysician who ever lived, the one of the most powerful faith. Get a little blank book, examine the words spoken by Jesus in each case where a person came to Him for healing; note each time He said, in substance, "If thou canst believe; it shall be unto thee according to thy faith." Note His every reference to faith. Write down and underline the verse that says, "All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them [if you can see them as spiritual realities]." If the statement, "If thou canst believe," is a truth more real to you than anything that the objective senses say, then "thou shalt have." "All things are possible to him that believeth."
When you have noted all these verses, turn to the 3d chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and read what it says on the law of faith. Learn to understand that it is a definite, positive, fixed law; a law as definite as the law of mathematics; as definite and unfailing as the law of chemistry, or the law of electricity, or any other law. Write down what Paul says about the law of faith. In the 4th chapter he calls your attention to Abraham, and why Abraham was called "the father of the faithful." Do you want to know why he calls your attention to Abraham? First read this chapter, and then turn to the 17th chapter of Genesis, in which is recorded God's promise to Abraham, "Thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations." Then in the very next verse the tense is changed and the verse reads, "For the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee." Abraham did not have a child for years after that; but from that moment he never questioned. From that moment he spoke of himself as a father of many nations; never questioned the promise at all — a father of many nations.
Go over that chapter carefully, then turn to the 11th chapter of Hebrews and you will note: By faith they "stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire," and by faith did a great many things that you can do today. You can do these things if you know how. To learn how, you must get into conscious union with God, the one and only power. You must believe that the thing that you desire is already yours. All things are yours; "all things are possible to him that believeth," and "nothing shall in any wise hurt you." Yours are the
"Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not,
And which entered not into the heart of man,
Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him."
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