« ÖncekiDevam »
The truth is that men are apt to confuse between their knowing and their acting faculties,-between the powers which learn and the powers which do. There are powers belonging to our mind by which we can acquire knowledge. There is another power within us in virtue of which we can act upon our knowledge. And between the first, which is the mind, and the second, which is the will, there lies a third portion of our nature, which is the feelings, whose office it is to carry to the will the information which has been gathered by the intellect, and to rouse the will to act. If a man, instructed by the command which teaches him to love his neighbour, and aware of the fact that another man is poor and needs his help, feels sympathy for his neighbour's sorrow, and by the emotion of pity awakes the will to resolve on the relief of this poor sufferer and do a sympathetic act, then mind, and feeling, and will agree together, the mind informing, the feeling rousing, and the will resolving. Or again, if I know from Moses and the Prophets that I shall answer to God hereafter for the deeds which I have done, and if further I feel the importance of this fact, and speak to my will and persuade it to act accordingly, and to resolve for me that I shall live by what I know and feel, then, in this case also, the mind instructs, the feelings move, and the will determines. But each stage is distinct from that which goes before it. I may know and not feel, or I may know and feel, and yet never resolve. Truth may come to my heart's door and knock or ring : the sound of truth may be heard, clear in itself as a bell, loud as a knock, and yet my sensitive nature, my feelings, which are the porter and messenger of my more secret soul, may be sound asleep and all the
knocking and ringing in the world may never be able to shake them out of their deep slumbers. I may know what is right and yet never be so awakened by my knowledge as to feel it. Or the porter may hear: my feelings may be alive, and may take the message which truth brings to my will, as that will is seated in the secret chambers of my nature, far from the loud noise and turmoil of the world without;
will may receive the message, saying in a soft and gentle way, 'Come to me, my heart, and tell me what truth has now to teach us, and what orders I must issue, and what things I must do.' Or it may speak harshly and lock its chamber door and say, “Away with you, you troublous feelings, and leave me to myself. I care not what it is that truth teaches. I ask not to be told the voice of God. I do my own pleasure and I go my own way.' We must distinguish clearly between mind, feelings, and will. The mind and the feelings rather belong to the man than are the man himself. The will is the man. What we will is what we are. What we do depends—not upon Moses and the Prophets, not upon anything that we know, but-on whether we are resolved to please God or not. Everything really rests upon our moral nature, on the state of conscience, on the condition of the will. If our will be regenerate, if our whole soul is earnest to do the will of God, then Moses and the Prophets will give us such light as they are able, and God will carry us on to brighter light and more perfect knowledge, as we grow more ready to please Him and more fully resolute to do His will.
Well, then, this is the fact. Our conduct, our course of action, our habitual practice, our character, consists chiefly in what our will is. The conscience
and the will are the governing powers within our nature, and though it is of great importance that we should know truth and feel as truth directs, still the great thing is not that we should know what is true or feel what is proper, but that we should resolutely determine to do what is right. Knowledge, feeling, and will must agree together; and the grand thing is to have a right will. If that be hid within our hearts, though we have but Moses and the Prophets we shall try to please God. If that be not within us, we shall never be persuaded, though we have more light than Moses can afford us, though Christ Himself comes to us as one risen from the dead.
Mark, then, first,-if this be so our faith is in our own hands and in our own power.
I do not mean that we are able to believe without the
of God : far from it; we cannot even think a good thought without the Holy Spirit. But I mean that the act of believing is not a mere passive act. It is not by remaining quiet, doing nothing, and waiting to be taught, that we shall ever come to believe. It does not follow because a truth appears before us, resting upon clear evidence, and fully proved, that we shall therefore receive that truth into our souls and live upon it. Before we can believe we must be persuaded. Convinced we may be, as far as argument or even sight can work conviction, and yet after all we may not be persuaded. The rich man said to Abraham that if Lazarus went from the dead and spoke to his five brothers they would all repent. But Abraham, who knew mankind better, told him,—not that they would not repent, but something far deeper,—they would not be persuaded : they would not believe, because they were in that bad moral condition which would reject
truth, as a sick stomach rejects wholesome food, and would not be persuaded though a dead man came to them and said, “I have been to the grave, and am come to bear witness to you that there is a hell beneath and a Heaven above. Sight itself, the evidence of their eyes and their ears, would not be able to persuade them, because they did not wish to believe and would not believe. Does not this demonstrate that believing is not a matter of mere evidence, consequent of course upon certain proof, but a matter of will ? that in believing we are not passive, sitting still and waiting to be impressed and taught, but active, trying to believe, persuading ourselves not to reject truth, ordering ourselves to listen to the voice of God when He speaks plainly, and to do what He commands?
And then you may observe next, that the great work of life is to train and form the will. The way to learn truth and be persuaded of its truthfulness, so as to mould our lives upon it, is to bring the will into agreement with the will of God.
“ Hé that is of God heareth God's words.” There is no more certain truth than that which is implied in the words, “If any man will do my will he shall know of the doctrine;" that is, the only way to learn doctrine, to receive truth, to be persuaded into faith, is to do the will of God. The education of the will is the real work of life, and the hardest of all works and all duties. How to break the will in, which by nature is wild as an unbroken colt, and how to form it into habits of obedience and submission to the will of God, so that all its movements shall be disciplined, and regular, and orderly, and that it shall turn this way or that way according to the mind of God, and answer at once to the pricks of conscience or the chastening lashes of the Divine hand, is the one great lesson which we were sent into the world to learn. “ Thy will be done;" that is the scholar's prayer. No man has even begun to go to school who has not learnt to say it. No man having gone to school has learnt so much as his alphabet who has not learnt to say it earnestly. No man can read and be an apt disciple in heavenly things who has not learnt to love that prayer. And it is not till a man has taught and trained himself to live upon it, as the life-bread and continual sustenance of his soul, in summer or in winter, in daylight or in darkness, in life or in death; it is not till this prayer is everything to him that a man has faith indeed, or can hope to advance “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” If you would learn truth, my dear brethren, you must learn to do God's will. That you may hear Moses and the Prophets, you must do as much as they can teach you of the will of God. That you may hear that greater Prophet than Moses, you must go on beyond what Moses teaches to what Christ teaches. Persuasion comes to those whose hearts are soft enough to be persuaded. Softness of heart is given to those who have a tender conscience. A tender conscience is the privilege of those in whom the Spirit has plainly written what the mind of God . is. And the Spirit writes the mind of God upon the soul of him who does God's will.