Faith at Second Hand

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But it is well to remark some other points on which the chapter we are occupied with depends. Its title is, "Faith at second hand found to be vain." Now the reader will observe that, though "second-hand faith" seems to be a very uncertain ground of confidence, the real meaning of the phrase is this, that there can be no faith at all except by a revelation made to the individual who receives it; and that it can never pass any farther. That is, that as regards the revelation of truth, or any revelation for men in general, none such can exist; for, if Peter or Paul have received a revelation, it is for me a revelation at second hand. That is, all revelation of truth must be a perpetual personal miracle, and exercise of God's power, without, consequently, any exercise of responsibility whatever in its reception. The scripture presents revelation as given, in order to be communicated for the good of others. Which is most rational (I go no farther here), if there is any real blessing-to give a revelation so as to produce absolute divine certainty in the mind, with no possibility of communicating it so as to put man under the responsibility of receiving it, and thus, if a blessing, to require a renewed miracle to each person,- or to communicate divine truth by a chosen instrument, with sufficient evidence to place men under responsibility of bowing to it when it is presented to them? But, further, Mr. N.'s reasonings on it are nothing whatever to the purpose. He requires to be informed how Paul got it. The question is not, What has been the means of assuring him? but, has he given adequate evidence of the truth he preaches, so as to bind me to receive it? It is evident that this last is the whole question with me. If any one has got possession of my father's will leaving me an immense fortune, the question is, not by what means he was convinced it was his, so as to keep it safe and communicate it to me; but whether I have, and can produce in court, adequate testimony that it is my father's, now it is in my possession. Mr. N.'s reasonings here are totally irrelevant. It is merely a denial of any revelation, and discrediting all by a point, difficult perhaps to solve for any of us whom God does not employ as instruments of communicating one, but perfectly irrelevant when the question is, Am I bound to receive it? If I prove my father's signature, and that of the witnesses, how the finder was convinced is all one to me.