Orson Hyde’s lecture on faith seems a lot like the Lectures on Faith.
The belief that brings us salvation is the certainty with which we hope to obtain things unseen, and therefore it is also the primary driving force of all human actions. With this certainty, the plowman tills his field, the sailor traverses the wide sea and the manufacturer, mechanic and craftsman pursues his trade with like mind, each one hoping to obtain something that he does not see at the moment, but of which he is sure, namely wealth.
Should the plowman believe that his field will provide him a bountiful harvest without plowing or tilling it — would his faith alone be sufficient to grant him the harvest? No!
Should the seaman believe that he could amass the riches of India through his maritime trade, but without ever going on board a ship to stretch his sails to the wind — would his faith alone bring him the longed-for wealth? No! Or should the merchant believe that he can increase his property through purchase and sale, but without buying and selling — would his belief alone suffice to bring about the desired increase? No! So it is with all classes of people in the business dealings of this world, and the same principle also applies in relation to the true riches that are stored up for us in heaven. If someone hopes to get hold of them, he must both work and believe; for faith and work are the two wings with which the Christian flies from Earth to Heaven. Take one of them away, and the other is no longer of any use to him, for he cannot fly with one wing.
Faith is obtained by hearing the word of God explained by a preacher who does not speak such words as taught by human wisdom, but such words as the Holy Spirit utters them when he compares spiritual things with spiritual.(1) The whole expanse of nature with all its blossoming enticements opens a flood of light to the contemplating mind in relation to the eternal power and majesty of God, the invisible creator. The shady grove, the powerfully flowing stream, the lofty mountains and the expansive plains proclaim the work of an almighty hand. The heavens with their countless worlds that decorate the blue dome of night prove to every eye the existence of a more than human power.
Who can contemplate nature in its eternal unfolding without asking what secret spring may lie concealed under the veil by which the countless bodies move in space with such regularity and order? And all this changing and unfolding is only there for human convenience.
One may use whatever name one likes to refer to this power by which nature moves, and yet every principle of truth and justice would forever justify its claim on our most sincere and humble worship. Because no one will deny that first, it is great; and second, no one can deny that it is good. Therefore that which is infinitely great and infinitely good demands a tribute from dependent beings, and since God required only a broken heart and a contrite spirit, in addition to the obedient observance of His good and salvific laws, who could be so ungrateful as to withhold this sacrifice from the Lord?
The Lord Jesus has been given to us as a redeemer and as an object of our faith, and no human being can come to the Father but through Him. To him has been given a name under Heaven and among men by which we can all be saved. He and He alone is our mediator. He has borne our sorrow and taken our misery upon himself, and He kindly invites us to Him to be saved through Him.
O man! the creator seeks to penetrate you with his holy word by the mouth of His servants; he tries to penetrate you when He shows you His divine image in the works of nature as if in a mirror, and he desires to animate with His holy spirit which, like the wind, can be more easily felt than seen.
But should you refuse to turn your heart to him, despite the persuasiveness of these eloquent advocates, know that you are lost, for the Lord himself has said: “He who does not believe will be damned.”
Perhaps some persons will say: “I believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and also in His holy religion, but will you also tell us what we have to do to enjoy this religion and enter into the kingdom of God?”
I am most delighted to hear such a full and open confession of the first principle of the Christian religion, for it is precisely such a confession that the gospel requires, and I am delighted to step forward to suggest a second principle.
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(1) This is a citation of 1 Cor 2:13. There are undoubtedly scriptural and other textual allusions that I’m missing.