"THE FEELING SYSTEM."
"SOME act because they believe - others because they feel.
The former walk by faith, the latter by feeling. Faith was, and still is, both the principle of action and feeling with the intelligent children of God. It was by faith that Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain - Enoch was translated - Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house - Abraham obeyed - Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, forsook Egypt, kept the passover, and passed through the Red Sea - Rahab saved her life - and Gideon, and Barak, and Sampson, and Jepthah, and David, and Samuel, and the prophets, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, grew valiant in battle, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens. By faith females endured tortures not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others had trials of mockings and scourgings, of bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tried, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in the skins of sheep and goats, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented. They wandered in deserts, and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Such was the army of the faith in ancient times. Faith obtained for them a reputation which is as imperishable as the day of eternity, and will stand when gems and the proudest monuments of earthly greatness shall crumble into dust. The sunshine of their deathless glory will irradiate their tombs when the quickening voice of the archangel shall break the slumbers of death and proclaim an eternal victory for the saints. And when the power of death shall be broken, they will sing with joy extatic,
"O death, where now your sting?
O hades, where your victory!"
"Faith has in every age, led its possessor to keep the commandments of God. And it has in ten thousand
instances, inspired human beings with a calm and rational fearlessness of death, whether it approached them in the form of the sword, the faggot, or the cross.
"But alas! how few walk by faith, in this
bewildered age! How thick the fog, how deep the gloom that overspreads the people of this generation! They have to a great, a very great extent thrown away the word of God, and resolved to walk according to their
own feelings, or vain imaginations. They have positively `become vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts are darkened.'
Professing to be wise they have become fools, and changed the glory of faith into feelings. How many hundreds are there who unhesitatingly believe Jesus to be the Christ, and yet they will not obey him! Ask them their reasons for continuing in disobedience, and they say they have no reason to give, only they do not feel inclined to obey, and they suppose it would be very wrong for them to obey unless they feel like it. This is the most unreasonable class in the community. They admit the Scriptures to contain a revelation from God and that a part of that revelation is preceptive, and yet they are not willing to do as required, because they do not feel interested in such matters.
"Now let us suppose that a reasonable father requires his son to do a certain piece of business, and the son acknowledges the justice, propriety, and even the importance of the father's requirements, and the
only reason he can give for not having obeyed is that he did not feel like it!
Or in other words, he did not want to do it, and therefore he thought it would be wrong for him to attend to it. Would not such an excuse be perfectly ridiculous? Again suppose a father of a family acknowledges his obligation to labor for the comfortable support, and the education of his family, but being a very lazy man, he apologizes for his neglect of his family, by saying, `I know I am commanded by the Ruler of the universe to provide for my family, but I do not feel as if I want to labor, and I think it would be very wicked for me to go to work in obedience to his command when I do not feel like it.'
"Let this principle be carried out and see where it will end. God requires us to speak the truth, but according to this notion, it would be very wrong for a man to tell the truth if he felt inclined to
Because, to obey God when he did not feel like it would be wicked! God requires us to be just. But the man who feels inclined to be unjust must be careful not to deal justly because it is wrong to obey God when he does not feel like it! God has said, `You shall not kill!' Now if a man feels inclined to murder, he must not refrain from it; for it is wrong to obey contrary to his feelings. And so of all the other commands. Now there is not a more foolish, absurd, and contemptible doctrine in the world.
"We are to be governed by our faith, and not by our feelings. We should not be governed by our feelings, but we should govern them.
We ought, in every case where our feelings are contrary to the commands of the Supreme Being, to go in direct opposition to them. This would be denying ourselves. And this is precisely what Jesus has required of us. This would be crucifying the old man with his deeds; and crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts.
"There are some religious teachers who not only go contrary to the commands of God, but they even teach others to do so. And they regard it as a kind of liberality for which they think they are
They say to people whom they are desirous to have unite with their churches, `You may be immersed, or sprinkled, or poured, just according to your own feelings.' The Scriptures command them to be immersed, (for this is what the original word signifies,) but these teachers take it upon themselves to dispense with a positive command, and substitute a contemptible tradition in its place, which will better suit the whims or feelings of a careless and ignorant multitude. But the day is fast approaching when men will be judged for `teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,' and directing people to follow their feelings, regardless of what the Oracles require. Their spurious religions never were, and never will be acceptable to God."
The above is from the Primitive Christian of June, 1837.
It is not quoted for the purpose of taking exceptions to it; for I approve the sentiment contained in it. How many neglect a plainly revealed commandment, because they do not feel it their duty. Some neglect the Sabbath or baptism because they do not feel the blessing connected with obedience before they obey. It would seem more consistent that our faith should lead us to action, and having done what God requires, by faith claim his promise and feel the blessing of obedience.
But though our author wrote well concerning the commands of God, yet he himself openly violated the fourth commandment, and taught others that it was abolished, and substituted "a contemptible tradition in
its place." This only shows the weakness and depravity of human nature, which is more easily led by tradition than by truth. R. F. C.