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Individuals pass on, but here remains and flows the unending tide of youthful life, of early toil and hope and aspiration. Or, as in all nature, where we ask and answer :
“When will the stream be aweary of flowing
Under my eye?
Over the sky?
And nature die?
The stream flows,
Even so only is it that the times change and we too change. They wear new faces, men new manners. But the same heaving life moves up and looks forth. The same deathless wants, passions, capacities, and hopes are in the human soul, the same fundamental anxieties, conflicts, perils abroad, the same loud summons to duty, the same endless call and sphere for a noble manhood in all these changing times.
Yours be it to hear that summons, to obey that call, to meet those wants, to show that manhood; yours to mingle in all the motions and commotions of the age, with the emotions of eternity — in the world and above it too. Enter into every turn of modern thought to guide it right. Enter into every legitimate sympathy of modern life to lift it up. Enter into all the manifold callings of modern enterprise to dignify and honor them. Be the reverend pastor, the good physician, the honorable lawyer, the magnanimous business man, the inspiring teacher, the truth-loving editor, the honest statesman, the high-souled man of literature, the pure artist, the devout scientist — or whatsoever else “ Israel ought to do,” prompted to all alike by Israel's hope, the faith in Christ. Go forth, strong, devoted, many-sided men to your generation's work. Then return hither in ten, twenty, fifty years, with everthinning ranks and ever-increasing honors. And when the last of these youthful forms, broken with age, shall totter to the grave, may it be but to pass from these changing times, and join every classmate in the changeless home of God!
A POSITIVE FAITH.
BACCALAUREATE SERMON, JUNE 24, 1883. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.– 2 CORINTHIANS 4:13.
L ERE are two voices, but one sentiment. “It is
written” — in the Psalms. It is repeated in the epistle. In the midst of conscious weakness and well-nigh universal treachery the sweet singer of Israel, centuries before, had stayed himself by faith on God: “I believed.” And now the great apostle, looking out, backward and forward and around, on the enormous trials and dangers enveloping his whole pathway, rests his undaunted hope and courage on “the same spirit of faith” in God: “We also believe.” Two dispensations here coalesce. The apostle and the psalmist join hands across the ages, and together they proclaim in our ears this great lesson of a cheerful and successful
THE DUTY, THE VALUE, AND THE POWER OF
A POSITIVE FAITH.
The distinction between a matter of science and a matter of faith has been stated thus : the one is a certitude admitting of verification ; the other a certitude not admitting of verification, although both rest on satisfactory proof. The distinction may be admitted, so far at least as verification to another is concerned.
It is, for example, a matter of science that the distance accomplished by a falling body varies as the square of the time; for it not only rests on evidence, but can at any time be tested. So with the physical properties of a metal or a gas. But it is matter of faith that God intelligently governs the universe; for though the evidence seems to me irrefragable, I cannot verify it, at least to another, as I can the law of falling bodies. Again, that the properties ascribed to the metal and the gas are actual qualities of an external object, and not modifications of my mind or senses, is matter of belief or, in a broad sense, faith. For however invincible the conviction to me, I cannot verify it by experiment to the questioner. In its most general sense, therefore, faith has a wide range — from the trust we repose in the truthful working of our human faculties up to the surrender of mind and heart to the claims and authority of Jesus Christ. This last is the culmination of all faith, being the supreme movement of the human soul, in its highest humanity, towards the Supreme object of the universe. It is preëminently faith, Christian faith. And this will be the aim and goal of my discussion, while yet I do not exclude from thought all those subordinate exhibitions of belief which lie in the same direction, though in a different plane. For there is a believing spirit, ready to find and receive all truth and to embrace the highest. And there is a spirit of unbelief, doubt, cavil, which notably grows with the greatness of the theme.
I. Now the world is so adjusted in its chief arrangements as to make the believing spirit both a privilege and a duty, a kind of moral necessity. Man, the head of the creation, was made to walk by faith and not, like the animal, only by sense. It is the prerogative of humanity as rational ; it is the necessity of reason as human.
So are we trained from the cradle to the grave. Faith is both the law and the instinct of childhood. All early knowledge is belief ; all early inclination is to trust. Parental authority is the child's law and his gospel ; parental care is his life : “My mother said it”; “my father will do it.” Then follows the inevitable reign of the book and the teacher: “Ipse dixit.” The time comes when the man sets up for himself, and for what he calls original research. Is it history? Here his knowledge is testimony or inference, except what is conjecture. Is it science? His scientific knowledge is chiefly a vast mosaic of other men's researches. Is it the field of demonstration ? Every strict demonstration is but the conclusion from an assumption, and every stage of the process necessitates an absolute trust in the truth and trustiness of the memory. In all personal investigation the man falls back on an unverifiable confidence in his faculties and an unprovable persuasion that the unknown is like the known. Throughout his business life, however much he may have been deceived and defrauded, he cannot for an hour escape the necessity of confiding in his fellow-men. Every dollar of the Rothschild's fortune is secure only through the integrity of a