The ninety-first psalm has been for centuries the refuge...

The Christian Science Monitor

The ninety-first psalm has been for centuries the refuge of the Christian in the hour of trouble. If you were to ask him the reason for this, he would probably founder in his analysis. He might tell you that it was God's message to humanity in their affliction, that it was instinct with divine protection, and a hundred other things. Yet, being at sea in the midst of a submarine zone, or on shore, amidst the shell craters of "No-man's-land," he would probably rather trust to the protection of a destroyer, in the first instance, or to a covering barrage, in the second. He would explain this, quite naturally and quite genuinely, by saying that God has given the race its intelligence with which to safeguard itself, and that the destroyer and the barrage constitute the manifestation of this intelligence. Nevertheless he knows such reasoning to be faulty, and, if pressed, will retire to a frank declaration of faith in something he can neither explain nor understand. For, indeed, the writer of the psalm never advised his readers to rely on material ingenuity, but, on the contrary, to dwell in the secret place of the most High, with the result that, "a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee."

It is tolerably obvious, then, that if the protection of the secret place is to be made practically available to-day to those who go down to the sea in ships, or who jeopard their lives in battle, it must be through some surer protection than the blind faith urged on humanity by St. Gregory, as the only faith which is faith. The writer of the psalm certainly meant something by his words, and that something was translated by Jesus the Christ and his immediate followers into language less archaic than the cadences of the poet, and more scientific than the imagery of the prophet, "If ye continue in my word ... ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free;" and again, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. ... For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

Such language, surely, puts an end to vain argument. Knowledge is not guesswork or even a blind acceptance of other people's experience. It is the outcome of personally demonstrated experience. A man may have faith in the acceptance of a premise which he has assured himself is theoretically sound, but he has most certainly no knowledge of the truth of his theory until he has demonstrated that truth, or, as James says, proved his faith in it by works. Then his faith has passed into knowledge, and, as the proofs of the truth of his theory accumulate, this knowledge becomes exact or scientific. this is the full, exact, and so scientific knowledge of God, of the Christ, and of Truth, which the writers of the New Testament are repeatedly urging upon their readers, a knowledge so scientific and so exacting that, as Paul plainly warned the church in Rome, sensuality and materiality revolt against it, finding a positive relief in animality, and accepting as true those physical phenomena whose sole claim to recognition is that they are counterfeits of or lies about the true creations of Spirit, since, as Paul writes, "the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made," which is as much as to say that the only true thing that can be said about a lie is the fact that there is a truth to lie about.

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