Walking by Faith

THE word faith is what might be termed one of the difficult words in the Bible. The human mind, that is to say, has given to it almost as many shades of meaning as there are of human temperament. Yet its true definition is surely, from a metaphysical point of view at any rate, to be found in that famous sentence in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." A great bishop of the third century was fond of insisting that there was no faith in accepting anything of which you had proof. He may, or he may not, have been the originator of the doctrine of blind faith, but it is certain that he had no concord with the point of view of the writer of the Epistle, for evidence, or what the Revision calls proof, is the very word by which the Greek is rendered in the English Bible. And this Mrs. Eddy very clearly saw, when she wrote, on page 297 of Science and Health: "Mortal testimony can be shaken. Until belief becomes faith, and faith becomes spiritual understanding, human thought has little relation to the actual or divine."

Belief is the first stage in a man's grasp of any subject. It is a wavering conviction based on some prima facie evidence. When this evidence is subjected successfully to a fuller examination, the belief gradually develops into faith. Because one or two tests have proved satisfactory, that is to say, the student's faith in his original conviction gradually strengthens into a much deeper conviction that he is dealing with some phase of truth. Only, however, as the evidence accumulates, does the element of uncertainty which separates faith from understanding disappear. Then there comes the complete certainty of knowledge. This is the exact process which is gone through by every student of Christian Science. He is told or reads something about Christian Science, and as he listens or reads he finds himself beginning to believe in the theory. But this, of course, is not enough. He sets to work to accumulate evidence of the reliability of his belief, and as this evidence grows he discovers that his belief has been changed into a faith which assures him that the evidence he has secured is itself sufficient to give him assurance of a complete description. This assurance, which is the very word used in the definition of faith, by the translators of Hebrews in the Revision, has to be gained by his own personal demonstration. He sets to work, if he is wise, to prove the healing power of Christian Science for himself by a process of induction. For, as Mrs. Eddy writes, on page 461 of Science and Health: "Christian Science must be accepted at this period by induction. We admit the whole, because a part is proved and that part illustrates and proves the entire Principle." As his proofs accumulate, his faith disappears in understanding, with the result that no matter what the clamor of controversy or the vehemence of criticism, he finds himself suddenly grasping the full intention of Paul's saying to the elders of the church at Ephesus, at his meeting with them in Miletus, "None of these things move me"

If, then, a man has faith, he has the substance of things hoped for. Now substance is the reality, and so a man who walks in faith pursues his way with the realization of realities. These realities constitute all that is eternal, as Mrs Eddy points out on page 468 of Science and Health, where she says: "Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay. Truth, Life, and Love are substance, as the Scriptures use this word in Hebrews: 'The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' " Such faith will, of course, move mountains, that is to say it will brush away the intangible material counterfeits of substance, and leave a man face to face with reality. Thus he finds in his faith the evidence or proof of things unseen by the material senses, but existing all the time for those with eyes to see.

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Personal Magnetism
May 7, 1921

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