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Faith

We may often have wondered when questions of "faith" are being disputed on all sides what we really mean by that much-abused word. Some have come to understand by it the mere acceptance of a string of dogmas, which has given rise to such expressions as "a living faith," "dead faith without works," and so forth. In reality there can be no such thing as a faith which is not a "living faith," and "faith without works" would not be faith at all. Such explanations of the word may appear superfluous but we must remember that the tendencies of dogma have gone far to justify them. Let us then for a moment separate faith altogether from religion where it is apt to be darkened by the shadow of dogma, and consider it in some other connection. We all know what it is to have faith in a friend, a cause, or an ideal. We have experienced the sense of trust that it brings, the zest that it gives to life, and the joy that we feel when we become conscious of it. We may know also what it is to lose faith in a cause, a person, or an ideal, how it shatters our hopes, and seems for a while to darken our whole lives. Faith is essentially spiritual, it is a vital factor of the inmost being, and is connected with the very life of the soul. Though hidden, as it were, in the deepest recesses of the heart where thoughts and emotions very rarely come to the surface, it nevertheless has an immeasurable effect upon conduct, for it guides the whole tendency of our nature. lf we have faith in a friend, our trust influences every detail of our attitude towards him. The way we speak to him, our manner of action with regard to him depend on how great our faith is in him. If then faith concerning our neighbor be so profound and far-reaching a faculty, how much more so with some cause or ideal for which we live! And above these again what wonders can faith bring about in the realm of pure spiritual life—where the Righteousness of the All is concerned. This is religion—faith in the Good Purpose of the Eternal. We may belong to no creed, attend no church, acknowledge no God—and yet have faith, if we feel this truth in our hearts. No amount of dogma can make up for the loss of a vital faith in the supremacy of good; and no lack of creed or definite observance can cancel the reward of those who make this truth the light of their lives. The effect of this attitude of mind is strong and instantaneous upon action. If we have a profound faith in the justice of the Universe—in the Goodness and Truth underlying all of which we have knowledge—if we believe that Righteousness must in the end prosper; then we can have no quarrel with life. The man who once doubts that goodness is best, or feels that his fellows are naturally evil, does not easily find it worthwhile to struggle against his lower self or to act fairly towards those about him. But the man who believes firmly in goodness is ready to forgive injuries, to deny himself in order to sacrifice for others; he sees the noblest in his friends, and his hope and joy gladdens their hearts. For faith in the Universe means faith in the individual and everything which leads to the light. Thus the man who possesses Faith is tolerant, charitable, self-sacrificing, humble and glad of heart. Such a man may openly acknowledge no God, but his religion is all God for he sees good in everything.

Let us not lose faith in Good. We may be sorely tried by the evidence of evil, by the treachery of friends, by the weakness of our own hearts; yet if Goodness be not the one supreme Eternal Fact, then life is not worth living. Let us cling to our faith in the supremacy of Goodness. Let us believe in the sincerity of all religions, in the efforts of all seekers after Truth, and in the sanctity of humanity as a whole. Let us trust our neighbors to the uttermost and speak of men's virtues rather than their faults. Let us believe in ourselves—or rather in the power that is within us—to raise our whole being and to completely conquer if we will but make the effort. This is the creed of faith, the faith that will lead us to the Perfect Life. There is but one sort of skepticism that affects the life and character of a man, and but one sort of faith that can save him. They who believe in Right shall finally attain thereto, but they who reject the Good Law are lost indeed.

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D. Field

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