And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot…
If we were asked to fix upon the most prominent want in the spiritual life of the present time, we might perhaps not untruly say that it is the want of objective faith. Visions pass before us, and we believe that in them is our life, but where is the entranced consciousness of their reality? Where is the fresh, warm faith which ever sees One like unto the Son of Man moving amid sacraments, and taking the shape of human symbols? Where is the rapturous conviction that pierces at once through the veil of visions, and sees the well-known features by a perpetual inspiration? And yet, this is undeniably the character of the faith which has drawn the soul to God at all times. If we consider the practical bearing of this great truth, we shall see its efficacy to be of the most momentous kind.
1. And first, it is the true sustaining power of the spiritual life.
2. Again, as objective faith is the sustenance of spiritual life, so is it the true antidote of one of the greatest dangers which beset the soul in times of strong religious excitement — that of morbid self-contemplation. Remorse, terror of conscience, growing scrupulousness, deepening awe at the sanctities of religion — all tend to fix the eye of the awakened soul on itself in a minutely introspective, anxious study, which tends to despondency and alarm, and, sadder still, depressing the soul's energies, creates fresh hindrances to restoration and to peace. The remedy is to be found in an objective faith. Combine with the care of the soul a deeper care to realise the presence of Him in whom it lives. This vision of His love is the counteracting stay. The soul looks safely on itself, if it look still more earnestly on its God. The one vision is the true complement of the other.
3. Once more: the same truth holds good as to our progress in any single grace. We gain more by looking on what is perfect than by striving against what is imperfect. One of the strongest laws of our nature is the law of imitation. We grow into what we behold. St. Paul is only expressing this great law of assimilation in its highest reality, when he says that, "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Objective faith is therefore the ordained process in the perfecting of the inner life. We subdue our pride not by mourning over it, but by feeding on the lowliness of Jesus. We learn how to give way to others by contemplating His self-sacrifice. Anger has no power over us, while He who was smitten on the cheek is vividly before our mind. We are stronger to bear pain while we look on the Crucifixion. In conclusion: The catholic principle of life is Christ revealed to the soul. His work in us is the impression of the look on which we feed. Our likeness to Him is the reproduction in us of the features of a Countenance towards which we are continually turned. We live by going out of ourselves; we become what we look upon. "We live by faith; not by sight." We are what we believe. As some of the lower creatures change their colour according to the food on which they feed, so are we transformed by that which we have received within as the daily food of our soul's communings. The realities in which we learn to live become our own real life.
(Canon T. T. Carter.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.