By J. G. Morrison, D.D.
THE LAW OF FAITH
Law is not only a word used to designate a statute, On the law books of a nation, passed by some congress or legislature, it is also the word used to describe the uniform recurrence of natural phenomena, under the same conditions. The influence, for instance, of the stars and planets on each other, affecting their orbits, their seasons, and their ability to hold objects to their surfaces, is called the law of gravitation. The effects of currents of air, heat and cold, and, of mountain ranges and the sea on climatic conditions bring about what is known as the laws of weather, whereby storms are predicted. The relation of one chemical substance to another, and the uniform changes that result from the combination of chemicals, is called the law of chemical affinity. In the same way we have mortuary laws setting forth the almost changeless rules that enable life insurance companies to transact business with accurate predictions. There is also the law of supply and demand which governs the production and disposal of merchantable goods, while the - laws even of salvation are charted so accurately that every genuine minister of the gospel can guide his hearers almost infallibly out ‘of the ways of sin into the life of holiness.
As a sub-division of the law of salvation, there is- faith, which is also governed by law. That is, there are principles and conditions of faith to -be fulfilled, and when they are thus met, there is invariable recurrence of certain results, under similar circumstances. So accurately can this be brought about that when the occurrences do not take place, we at once know that there is some flaw in the adjustment of the principles. To be sure, there is an element of time that must come in at this point, which will be discussed later, but the matter we desire to emphasize here is that there is a uniform method according to which faith operates. In other words, there is a law of faith.
The usual definition of faith is that it is an attitude of confidence and trust toward some one, or some thing. We, of course, approve that definition, as far as it goes, but confidently believe that it does not state the whole case. Just as personal influence is something more than words and looks, and is an indefinable radiation of soul stuff called personality, such as enabled Napoleon to walk with bared bosom up to the guns of the French soldiers sent by the king to arrest him, and to receive their surrender and homage; and which enabled General Sheridan at the battle of Cedar Creek, during the war between the states, to ride with hat in hand among his vanquished troops, and induce them to rally and follow him to victory; so faith is, we are sure, not only an attitude of confidence and trust but a literal medium which connects the believing heart with the one in whom his confidence is placed, and releases power from that source upon ‘the believer, or upon the project for which he exercises faith. Power of a supernatural kind always accompanies an exercise of genuine faith. Faith penetrates the hidden resources around one, and gathers there from unheard of potencies for delivery, into the hands of the one who has thrust the faith channel through.
This is true when one puts faith in God, in full accordance with His will. Deity immediately responds. From the storehouse of divine power there is released over the channel of that believer’s faith, resources of an exact nature fitted to -bring to pass the very thing for which he believed. So much, but no morel It is a law which works as automatically as the mortuary laws of an insurance company, or the laws of chemical affinity. Only let a man, however deeply dyed in sin, confess his sins, humble his heart (necessary steps for the exercise of the faith faculty) and then believe that his sins are now forgiven and atoned for in the blood of Christ, and immediately his faith medium penetrates the powers of God for justification. His faith is divinely reinforced and he is converted, regenerated, born again. He is not sanctified, he is not perhaps, aware of the joys of the -coming of Jesus Christ the second time, he is, probably, not healed in his body, because he did not believe for any of these things. But he is converted, because he believed for that. It seems to us that this pours some light on the utterance of Jesus: “According to your faith be it unto you.”
This law of faith is not only operative when it is exercised in accordance with God’s will, but it seems to be true when it is exercised by Christians for things that His will has not planned for them. People who belong to the Lord can ask for and receive, provided they genuinely believe, things that are not for their good. Mr. Moody tells of being asked to pray for a baby boy’s healing, when in the city of Minneapolis once, but was unable to get his faith through for the recovery of the child. When he stated as much to the mother she became frantic and fell on her knees and demanded of God the recovery of her baby. Soon the child was well. He became a man, committed an atrocious crime, and was hanged. She lived to see all this, and to realize that she demanded, and believe for and received something that was not for her good.
It is stated of General Stonewall Jackson, the great Confederate leader, that he was a man of unusual faith. He was constantly in prayer, and believed that not only would his troops be successful in the field, but that the cause of the Confederacy was destined to win. He would often ride into battle with his arm extended high in solemn supplication for God’s blessing on the men he commanded. It is an historical fact that he was never seriously defeated in battle. He believed for victory, and God had to give it to him, or break His word! So full of faith was he that the Confederate states must win their freedom—so frequent and impassioned were his petitions for this, that there is ground for believing that God removed him from the scene of action, in order that He might adjust national matters according to. His own wisdom. This is the view of one of the Confederate chaplains, who was asked to offer the dedicatory prayer at the unveiling of a monument to General Jackson’s honor, when he prayed: “And when Thou didst decree, in Thy almighty wisdom, that the Southern Confederacy should fail, Thou hadst first to take out of the world the soul of thy servant, General Stonewall Jackson.” Jackson was offering such a perfect faith channel to God for the establishment of the Confederacy that he was about to compel God to do a thing that He was unwilling to do. Consequently He removed the channel. It is also a notorious fact that He did not even allow Jackson’s enemies the privilege of slaying him, but ordained that his own troops should fire upon him by mistake.
The law of faith is not only operative for the devout Christian, exercising it within and according to God’s will, and for the sinner who seeks to be made righteous, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, but there is a sense in which all human affairs are carried on by faith. Entirely outside of the realm of salvation, and apart from the will of God, as related to His kingdom, there is a law of faith, which if its provisions are fulfilled, wonderfully affects the success of any given project. One man cultivates a field with great faith, and gathers there from an abundant harvest, while his fellow laboring with small faith or with none at all, gathers a sparse return. Another launches .a business and with much devoted faith pushes all its advantages to a fine consummation, while another with doubting heart lags in his prosecution of his efforts, and scores a failure. What was the difference? Faith! The history of any small community is filled with such examples, and the pages of world history are replete with them. Some great personage with faith in his “star,” his “destiny,” his “hunch,” pr what not, has scintillated and dazzled before the gaze of men, thwarting all human efforts to hinder or stay him, until that faith was exhausted, and then he fell of his own weight, a poor blackened stick, all that was left of the rocket that flared in the faces of mankind. God has abundant resources for halting such cases, and where this law of faith is invoked for evil too great for the purposes of the Almighty, no doubt He does frustrate the plans of evil men. In no way do we contend that an ungodly man can exercise the law of faith so as to realize on the assets of righteousness and yet remain in his sins. Our contention is that in the world at large, and outside the direct will of God in its relation to salvation, there is a great law of faith that governs in all human affairs. Inasmuch as this is true, then how much more potent must this law of faith be, when it is operated within the will of God, and for ends and purposes which He approves. Beyond stating the fact of the operation of the law of faith in affairs not related to the matter of salvation, and the welfare of the kingdom of God, we do not plan to discuss it or deal with it. Our contention is for the exercise of this mighty law within the will of God and for the spread of holiness.