Chapter 27 – The Nutriment of Faith

“A day’s portion every day.” Ex. 16: 4.

“I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may prove them whether they will walk in my law or no.” In these words we have announced to us what the rule is for the maintenance of the spiritual life, the law for the growth and increase of the life of faith. This law is in no respect different from that which we observe in the natural life every day. Every man knows how the little child is fed so as to grow up a strong man, how the strong man is supplied with nourishment so as to maintain his strength. The daily regular use of a little food gives man strength of body. Thus also is it with everything in nature: the little tree becomes large, the poor man becomes rich, the grandest building rises from its foundation, the longest journey can be performed, not with great and violent strides, but by the silent, persevering faithfulness, which does not despise the little, invisible progress of every day, but uses it to reach the appointed goal.

“A day’s portion every day,” the general rule of the natural life prevails also in the spiritual; and yet there are so many Christians who, by not acknowledging this, suffer dreadful loss. They imagine that great exertion of strength at particular times, that fervent prayers when we feel ourselves stirred up, are the means of securing the increase and the flourishing of the soul’s life. But the golden rule, “a day’s portion every day,” the day by day, regular continuance in the use of food, whereby the soul obtains its growth, they do not understand. They have not yet apprehended the lesson that faith and the life of faith must have nourishment, daily bread; and that with the promise, “Iwill rain bread from heaven,” there stands the command “The people shall gather a day’s portion every day that I may” (this clause is added just for this very end) “prove them whether they will walk in my law or no.”

Beloved reader, have you not often mourned over the unstable and changeable character of your spiritual life; have you not often wondered how it comes about that your days of hope are so shortlived, and asked on all sides what you had first to do that it might be otherwise with you, that your faith might abide and increase? Would it surprise you that you should be weak, if your body remained without food for a couple of days, and that every time afresh? And is it then to surprise you that your faith should not be living, firm, and strong, if you do not faithfully partake of the word of God? That is the nutriment of faith: from it and from it alone does faith draw its strength. “Man shall live by every word that cometh from the mouth of God.” Confess that you too often yield to this and that worldly circumstance, to idleness and apathy, and neglect the hidden use of God’s word, or use it so hastily and superficially that your soul is not nourished. No wonder that you have to mourn over a leanness in your soul. Begin today and henceforth let no day pass by without eating of the heavenly manna, the word of God and the living Christ in the word. Receive the word in faith. God gave manna every day in the waste wilderness up until the homecoming in Canaan: if we go out and gather there will be in the word, for every new day, instruction, strengthening, purification, and salvation. And he who with faithful perseverance continues day by day in the use of the word, even when he does not at once observe the blessing that flows from it, shall experience that the increase of faith, although it be unobserved and slow, is yet certain and sure.