Psalm 73:15-28
If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of your children.…

The most intelligent among believers themselves have, as a rule, known painfully what doubt is, and have even built up their newer and better faith upon the ruins of the old. If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for faith. Doubt is simply the power to see the negative side of things of which faith is the power to see the positive side. No believer who knows what he is talking about claims that every. thing is clear. What believers do claim, in all the great questions between faith and unbelief, is that the reasons for unbelief are outweighed by the reasons for faith, and that if faith has its difficulties, unbelief has more. And they claim this also, that while allowing to the full the force of the agnostic question, "Who hath known the mind of the Lord?" all that we practically need to know of God for the imperious necessities of life and duty and redemption has been adequately revealed in Jesus Christ. And as we admit that there is room for doubt, let us further admit that the ministry of doubt has often played a beneficent part in the progress of men's knowledge of truth and their advance from a lower to a higher faith. God as often speaks to us through the chill silences of doubt as when the whole air around us is musical with the voices of faith. Hence the saying that the doubters of "one generation are the believers of the next." The great movements of thought in science, in philosophy, in religion, have invariably begun in scepticism as to the finality of the movements which went before them. True, as Carlyle says, scepticism is not an end, but a beginning. But you must have the beginning before you can have the end. Let us distinctly understand, however, that the doubt which deserves sympathy, and which God often uses as a stepping-stone by which a man may pass to a nobler faith, is doubt that rests on intellectual grounds, not on moral, or, rather, immoral grounds. That was the kind of doubt which the psalmist had. He assures us he had cleansed his heart, and washed his hands in innocency. His doubts were those of a good man, who was earnestly trying to live a pure and upright life. Now, supposing that a man is really and truly striving to be a good man, pure in thought, devout in heart, upright in life, spiritual in his views of things, and yet is troubled with grave and bewildering doubts, what is he to do? Several things; but the one thing which I have both time and desire to emphasize now, is this — he should keep his doubts to himself. That was what the psalmist did. He felt that, if he had not done so, if he had gone about instilling them into other minds, and suggesting to them difficulties they probably did not feel, he would have been acting treacherously towards God's children and his own brethren. Treacherously! No, more than that — devilishly! It is the serpent in Genesis who insinuates doubt. It is the Mephistopheles in Faust who is the spirit that denies. "Don't tell me your doubts," said Goethe wisely, "tell me your certainties; I've doubts enough of my own." Be sure of this — that the most serious moral injury you can do to your brother-man is in any way to undermine his religious faith, unless you have a higher one to offer him in place of it, or to weaken his sense of the sacred imperiousness of the moral law. It involves, first of all, the man's loss of what even sceptics themselves admit to be, and what believers know from experience to be, the noblest and fullest source of the moral strength we all need for successful resistance of the assaults of temptation and of sin. What is the meaning of human brotherhood, if there be no Divine Father, if there be no Christ in whom humanity is summed up and perfected, crowned and glorified? Then, secondly, loss of faith involves, as a rule, loss of courage to do and bear in this human life of ours. It is a common saying, but it is very true, that ages of faith are strong and heroic ages, and ages of scepticism ages of weakness and decay. And what is true of ages is true also of individuals. Look abroad upon the world to-day, and everywhere you will find that it is believers who are foremost in the ranks of those who are toiling self-denyingly for the real progress of our race. And the reason of this is clear. You know how the companies that supply us here in London with water build lofty towers at their pumping-stations. Why? Because it is a law of nature that water will not rise above its own level. And so, if the cisterns at the top of our houses are to be supplied with water, a column of the fluid must be forced at the pumping-stations to a height higher than that of the highest houses where the water is to come. In the same way, if we are to be inspired to holy and loving activity for the good of others, we must draw our inspiration from a source higher than ourselves. Life for man must flow from life in God. We can give to others only as we receive from Him. And though I don't by any means deny that there are to-day many men and women who are doing noble service in the field of philanthropy without any profession of religious faith, this is rather in spite of their lack of faith than because of it. What they would gain in joy, in inspiration, in a sense of support in their work, if they had this faith, may be proved from the experience of those who, with labour for man, join belief in Christ and God. So much for the influence of faith as regards doing. And as for its influence as regards bearing — bearing pain and loss, grief and trial — can you find anywhere such a source of resignation and comfort and hope as in the conviction of God's changeless love and unerring wisdom, in the feeling of the tender and sustaining sympathy of the Divine Man of Sorrows? Our very tears glisten in the sunlight of God's smile. The Cross of Jesus has turned the bitter waters of suffering into a fountain of health and life.

(Henry Varley.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.

WEB: If I had said, "I will speak thus;" behold, I would have betrayed the generation of your children.

Trust and Trouble
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