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tion to the Godhead will lead him on; and the strength which sustaineth the humble will be his reward. “In the strength of the Lord shall his right hand get victory-even in the name of the Lord of Hosts. His soul also shall flourish with the fruits of righteousness from the seed of the Word, which liveth and abideth for ever."
Thus delivered from prepossessions of all other masters, and arrayed in the raiment of humility and love, the soul should 'advance to the meeting of her God; and she should call a muster of all her faculties, and have all her poor graces in attendance, and any thing she knows of his excellent works and exalted ways she should summon up to her remembrance: her understanding she should quicken, her memory refresh, her imagination stimulate, her affections cherish, and her conscience arouse. All that is within her should be stirred up, her whole glory should awake and her whole beauty display itself for the meeting of her King. As his hand-maiden she should meet him; his own handy-work, though sore defaced, yet seeking restoration ; his humble, because offending servant--yet nothing slavish, though humble--nothing superstitious, though devout-nothing tame, though modest in her demeanour; but quick, and ready, all addressed and wound up for her Maker's will.
How different the ordinary proceeding of Christians, who with timorous, mistrustful spirits ; with an abeyance of intellect, and a dwarfish reduction of their natural powers ; enter to the conference of the word of God! The natural powers of man are to be mistrusted, doubtless, as the willing instruments of the evil one ; but they must be honoured also as the necessary instruments of the Spirit of God, whose operation is a dream, if it be not through knowledge, intellect, conscience, and action. Now Christians heedless of this grand resurrection of the mighty instruments of thought and action, at the same time coveting hard after holy attainments, do often resign the mastery of themselves, and are taken into the counsel of the religious world-whirling around the eddy of some popular leader-and so drifted, I will not say from godliness, but drifted certainly from that noble, manly, and independent course, which, under steerage of the word of God, they might have safely pursued for the precious interests of their immortal souls. Meanwhile these popular leaders, finding no necessity for strenuous endeavours and high science in the ways of God, but having a gathering host to follow them, deviate from the ways of deep and penetrat
ing thought-refuse the contest with the literary and accomplished enemies of the faith-bring a contempt upon the cause in which mighty men did formerly gird themselves to the combat--and so cast the stumbling-block of a mistaken paltriness between enlightened men and the cross of Christ ! So far from this simple-mindedness (but its proper name is feeble-mindedness) Christians should be-as aforetime in this island they were wont to be—the princes of human intellect, the lights of the world, the salt of the political and social state. Till they come forth from the swaddling bands in which foreign schools have girt them, and walk boldly upon the high places of human understanding, they shall never obtain that influence in the upper regions of knowledge and power of which unfortunately they have not the apostolic unction to be in quest. They will never be the master and commanding spirits of the time, until they cast off the wrinkled and withered skin of an obsolete age, and clothe themselves with intelligence as with a garment, and bring forth the fruits of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Mistake us not, for we steer in a narrow, very narrow channel, with rocks of popular prejudice on every side. While we thus invocate to the reading of the Word, the highest strains of the human soul, mistake us not as derogating from the office of the Spirit of God. Far be it from any Christian, much farther from any Christian pastor, to withdraw from God the honour which is every where his due, but there, most of all his due where the human mind laboured alone for thousands of years, and laboured with no success—viz. the regeneration of itself, and its restoration to the lost semblance of the divinity:-Oh! let him be reverently inquired after, devoutly waited on, and most thankfully acknowledged in every step of progress from the soul's fresh awakening
out of her dark oblivious sleep-even to her ultimate attainment upon earth and full accomplishment for heaven. And that there may be a fuller choir of awakened men to advance his honour and glory here on earth-and hereafter in heaven above-let the saints bestir themselves like angels, and the ministers of religion like archangels strong !-And now at length let us have a demonstration made of all that is noble in thought, and generous in action, and devoted in piety, for bestirring this lethargic age, and breaking the bands of hell, and redeeming the whole world to the service of its God and King !
As He doth know this to be the desire and aim of the preceding Discourse, so may he prosper it to the salvation of many souls, that to his poor servant, covered over with iniquities, may derive the forgiveness and honour of those who turn many from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to the service of the living God.
JOHN v. 39. SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES.
THE MANNER OF CONSULTING THE ORACLES OF GOD.
God, being ever willing and ever ready to second and succeed his Word, and having a most longing anxiety for the recovery of all men; when his Word fails of converting the soul (as it doth too often), that failure cannot be due to any omission
but to some omission or transgres. sion upon ours.
If any one, however, incline to refer the failure to a want of willingness, or a withholding of power, upon the part of God, whereof it is not given unto man to discover or remove the cause—then in this his opinion, such a one must needs remain beyond the reach of help. If he think that, notwithstanding of revelation, we are yet in the dark as to the putting forth of divine power—that in a sinner's conversion there is an element still undisclosed--that the information delivered in the Scriptures is not enough, and the means there prescribed not adequate, and the divine blessing there promised not to be surely calculated on : but that over and beyond all, there is something to be tarried for-then, for one so opinioned, there is nothing but to tarry. For, except by what is revealed how are the councils of the Eternal known? and if revelation do not discover the way in which God may assuredly be found, what mortal or immortal can?--and if there be a gap between our present habitations and the Holiest of all, who can fill it up ? and if one possessed of all God's revelations do still hold himself unaccomplished for the finding of God, who in heaven or earth can help him ?-and, in short, if employing God's revelation as God himself directs it to be employed, and in the spirit proper to each taking every measure therein appointed, we may nevertheless be remote from success, and nothing sure of our aim, then, what less shall we say, but that this book, the light and hope of a fallen world, is an idle meteor which mocks pursuit, and may be left to seek its way back into the hiding place of the Almighty's council, from which it hath come forth to man in vain!
But if, upon the other hand, any one believe that God's favour corneth not at random, nor by a way unknown, but may be calculated on in the way that God himself hath revealed it to proceed, and doth distil like the dew falling unseen, and rest upon every one who longeth after it, any who believes that our backward state comethenot of
darkness in the Word, or abstinence in the Spirit of God, but of our own withdrawing from the light and fighting against the truth-who giveth to God thankfulness and praise, taking to himself all the blame-then, with such a one, we are happy we can freely discourse, and, by God's blessing, we hope to help him onward in the way everlasting.
Yet, for the sake of disabusing the others who stand looking for a dawning they know not whence nor when, let me interrogate any Christian, how he won his way from former darkness to present light? Not by knowledge alone of what the Word contains. True. By what then? by earnest prayer. But what taught him, what encouraged him to pray? Was it not certain revelations in the Word ? 'Not by confidence in his knowledge or his strength, but by distrust of both. True. But what taught him to distrust himself? Was it not certain revelations in the Word ? Not by bold and urgent endeavours of his own, but by humble endeavours rested upon hope of heavenly aid. True. But what taught him to bridle his impetuosity and expect superior aid? Was it not certain revelations in the Word ? And, to sum up all, how doth that Christian know, save by the image of righteousness revealed in the Word, that he is not yet in the bondage of his sins, but standeth sure in the liberty of Christ ? Why then, in the name of plain and honest dealing, will you hesitate to acknowledge and asseverate for the behoof of lingering and mistrustful men, that in God's revelations, rightly used, there is a reservoir of knowledge and direction, ample enough to feed the famished spirit of the world, whence every sinner may derive to himself a satisfying stream to refresh his present faintness, and to follow his footsteps through the tedious wilderness of life.
Therefore do we feel upon a useful and a hopeful topic, while we endeavour to discover what it is which hinders the Scripture from its full efficacy in deriving to us who search them the regeneration of our souls, and their renewal in the whole image of God.
And without recurring to what hath been already said of the PREPARATION necessary for perusing aright the Word of God, we come at once to the perusal itself, and shall now,