XXI. THE LIFE OF FEELING
`We walk by faith, not by sight.' -- 2 Cor. 5:7
`Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.' -- John 20:29
`Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?' -- John 11:40
In connection with your conversion there was no greater hindrance in your way than feeling. You thought, perhaps for years, that you must experience something, must feel and perceive something in yourselves. It was to you as if it were too hazardous thus simply, and without some feeling, to believe in the word, and be sure that God had received you, and that your sins were forgiven. But at last you have had to acknowledge that the way of faith, without feeling, was the way of the word of God. And it has been to you the way of salvation. Through faith alone have you been saved, and your soul has found rest and peace. (John 3:36; Rom. 3;28; 4:5,16; 5:1)
In the further life of the Christian there is no temptation that is more persistent and more dangerous than this same feeling. The word `feeling' we do not find in Scripture, but what we call `feeling' the Scripture calls `seeing'. And it tells us without easing that not seeing, but believing, that believing right in opposition to what we see, gives salvation. `Abraham, not being weak in faith, considered not his own body'. * Faith adheres simply to what God says. The unbelief that would see shall not see; the faith that will not see, but has enough in God, shall see the glory of God. (2 Chron. 7:2; Ps. 2713; Isa. 7:9; Matt. 14:30,31; Luke 5:5) The man who seeks for feeling, and mourns about it, shall not find it; the man who cares not for it shall have it overflowing. `Whosoever would save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.' Faith in the word becomes later on sealed with true feeling by the Holy Spirit. (John 12:25; Gal. 3:2,14; Eph. 1:13)
Child of God, learn to live by faith. Let it be fixed with you that faith is God's way to a blessed life. When there is no feeling of liveliness in prayer, when you feel cold and dull in the inner chamber, live by faith. Let your faith look upon Jesus as near, upon His power and faithfulness, and, though you have nothing to bring to Him, believe that He will give you all. Feeling always seeks something in itself; faith keeps itself occupied with what Jesus is. (Rom. 4:20,21; 2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 9:5,6; Jas. 3:16; 6:16) When you read the word, and have no feeling of interest or blessing, read it yet again in faith. The word will work and bring blessing; `the word worketh in those that believe.' When you feel no love, believe in the love of Jesus, and say in faith that He knows that you still love Him. When you have no feeling of gladness, believe in the inexpressible joy that there is in Jesus for you. Faith is blessedness, and will give joy to those who are not concerned about the self-sufficiency that springs from joy, but about the glorification of God that springs from faith. (Rom. 15:13; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 1:5,7,8) Jesus will surely fulfil His word: `Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.' `Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?'
Betwixt the life of feeling and the life of faith the Christian has to choose every day. Happy is he who, once for all, has made the firm choice, and every morning renews the choice, not to seek or listen for feeling, but only to walk by faith, according to the will of God. The faith that keeps itself occupied with the word, with what God has said, and, through the word, with God Himself and Jesus His Son, shall taste the blessedness of a life in God above. Feeling seeks and aims at itself; faith honours God, and shall be honoured by Him. Faith pleases God, and shall receive from Him the witness in the heart of the believer that he is acceptable to God.
Lord God, the one, the only, thing that Thou desirest of Thy children is that they should trust Thee, and that they should always hold converse with Thee in that faith. Lord, let it be the one thing in which I seek my happiness, to honour and to please Thee by a faith that firmly holds Thee, the Invisible, and trusts Thee in all things. Amen.
1. There is indeed something marvelous in the new life. It is difficult to make it clear to the young Christian. The Spirit of God teaches him to understand it after he perseveres in grace. Jesus has laid the foundation of that life in the first word of the Sermon on the Mount: `Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven'; a feeling of deep poverty and of royal riches, of utter weakness and of kingly might, exist together in the soul. To have nothing in itself, to have all in Christ -- that is the secret of faith. And the true secret of faith is to bring this into exercise, and, in hours of barrenness and emptiness, still to know that we have all in Christ.
2. Forget not that the faith, of which God's word speaks so much, stands not only in opposition to works, but also in opposition to feeling, and therefore that for a pure life of faith you must cease to seek your salvation, not only in works, but also in faith. Therefore let faith always speak against feeling. When feeling says, `In myself, I am sinful; I am dark; I am weak; I am poor; I am sad;' let faith say. `In Christ, I am holy; I am light; I am strong; I am rich; I am joyful.'