OR, FAITH AND WORKS, A TALE
By Hannah More
And lived a loving kind of life;
One point, however, they disputed,
And each by turns his mate confuted.
’Twas faith and works—this knotty question
They found not easy of digestion.
While Dan for faith alone contended,
Jane equally good works defended.
“They are not Christians, sure, but Turks,
Who build on faith and scoff at works,”
Quoth Jane;—while eager Dan replied,
“By none but heathens faith’s denied.”
“I’ll tell you, wife,” at length quoth Dan,
“A story of a right good man—
A patriarch sage, of ancient days,
A man of faith, whom all must praise.
In his own country he possessed
Whate’er can make a wise man blessed;
His was the flock, the field, the spring,
In short, a little rural king.
Yet, pleased, he quits his native land,
By faith in the divine command.
God bade him go; and he, content,
Went forth, not knowing where he went.
He trusted in the promise made,
And, undisputing, straight obeyed.
The heavenly Word he did not doubt,
But proved his faith by going out.”
Jane answered, with some little pride—
“I’ve an example on my side;
And though my tale be somewhat longer,
I trust you’ll find it vastly stronger.
I’ll tell you, Daniel, of a man,
The holiest since the world began,
Who now God’s favor is receiving,
For prompt obeying, not believing.
One only son this man possessed,
In whom his righteous age was blessed;
And more to mark the grace of Heaven,
This son by miracle was given.
And from this child the Word divine
Had promised an illustrious line.
When, lo! at once a voice he hears,
Which sounds like thunder in his ears.
God says—‘Go sacrifice thy son!’
—‘This moment, Lord, it shall be done.’
He goes, and instantly prepares
To slay this child of many prayers.
Now, here you see the grand expedience
Of works, of actual sound obedience.
This was not faith, but act and deed:
The Lord commands—the child shall bleed.
Thus Abraham acted,” Jenny cried;
“Thus Abraham trusted,” Dan replied.
“Abraham!” quoth Jane, “why, that’s my man”;
“No, Abraham’s him I mean,” says Dan.
“He stands a monument of faith”;
“No, ’tis for works, the Scripture saith.”
“’Tis for his faith that I defend him”;
“’Tis for obedience I commend him.”
Thus he—thus she—both warmly feel,
And lose their temper in their zeal;
Too quick each other’s choice to blame,
They did not see each meant the same.
At length, “Good wife,” said honest Dan,
“We’re talking of the self-same man.
The works you praise, I own, indeed,
Grow from that faith for which I plead;
And Abraham, whom for faith I quote,
For works deserves especial note:
’Tis not enough of faith to talk;
A man of God with God must walk:
Our doctrines are, at last, the same;
They only differ in the name.
The faith I fight for, is the root;
The works you value, are the fruit.
How shall you know my creed’s sincere,
Unless in works my faith appear?
How shall I know a tree’s alive,
Unless I see it bear and thrive?
Your works not growing on my root,
Would prove they were not genuine fruit.
If faith produce no works, I see,
That faith is not a living tree.
Thus faith and works together grow;
No separate life they e’er can know:
They’re soul and body, hand and heart:
What God hath joined, let no man part.”