Billeder på siden

form of man groweth out of the quarried stone ? In the still evening, when you lay you down wearied and worn out, doth your strength return during the watches of the sleepy and unconscious night by noise and trouble, as a worn-out machine is refitted by the cunning workman? Tell me how intelligence grows upon the unconscious babe; where are the avenues of knowledge, and by what method doth it fix itself ?

Yet, though God maketh not his arm bare through all the earth, and hath no heralds of his praise stationed in the lofty heavens; and though in the wondrous recesses of human nature his

presence be no where sensibly felt, who doth not believe that the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein ; that the heavens declare his glory, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork; that he hath breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, and that the inspiration of God hath given us understanding ! Go not, then, to take objection, when God puts in for the same unseen, unfelt influence in the region most proper to him of all, the region of man's recovery into his lost image. He asks to be acknowledged in the progress of our spirits in holiness, as he is acknowledged in the progress of our fortunes in the world. He asks to be acknowledged in the sustenance of our spiritual, as he is acknowledged in the sustenance of our natural, lives. He asks the devout dependance for spiritual strength, food, and promotion, which we are wont to render for our natural strength, food, and promo

tion. And upon what principle can we refuse to the Spirit of God the same sovereignty over our inner man, which we yield to the providence of God over our outer man? They lie equally beyond the region of proof and experience, both being within the region of pure revelation.

Now, though providence be most devoutly acknowledged, it doth not alter in any thing our endeavours to procure success. The pious farmer, who bows night and morning before God for his blessing, and with a devout heart contemplates the springing of the earth, and with uplifted eye acknowledges the genial heat of the sun, doth acquaint himself with the knowledge, and operosely pursue the practice of his profession, no less than if he depended upon his own skill and handiwork alone. What would he think of some fervid, superstitious dreamer, who should come and challenge his ploughing and sowing and dressing, and call it impiety and independence upon God, and school him for taking the glory from Providence unto himself! This cant can be sung no where but in religion, where men are too much overawed to think.

In like manner, because we acknowledge the Spirit of God as the providence and procuration of our spiritual life, and give him the glory of all the fruits of holiness which we bear, are we therefore to abstract in any thing our study from the word of God, which contains the science, and from active holiness, which is the practice of our spiritual husbandry ? and shall we be accused

by narrow-minded, inquisitorial heresy-hunters, because we urge the spirits of all flesh to study this heaven-bestowed manual, and to put its directions in practice all the day long? Which, verily, these unfeeling men would hide from the common eye of this world's suffering encampment, and preserve for the single entertainment of those who are already healed.

Therefore, at one and the same time must the truths of the Word be entertained in the mind's storehouse, and fed upon by the heart and the affections, and exhibited in a blameless walk and conversation ; and the Spirit of God must be de

; pended on and glorified for every step of our progress; for the truth while we read it; for the understanding to understand it; for the heart to feel it; for the courage to maintain it; and for the intrepidity and constancy to bring it forth.

More than this I declare myself incompetent to see; and they may blame me for what they choose, but I can no more.

I cannot find in my heart to blemish that glorious and potential Word, which first the ministry of angels, and then the ministry of Christ, and then the ministry of the Holy Spirit, brought from heaven's sanctuary of truth to this necessitous and beguiled earth. I cannot find to cast mist and mystery upon its intelligible face, hesitation and dimness over the eye which looks on it. Read, read, and be instructed in all the offices of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Read, read, that your souls may live, and the gross

darkness which covers you may clear away, and your hearts may know their deceitfulness, and your feet find the path of life.

For the sake of those who find a difficulty in receiving this doctrine of the spiritual influence, we have set forth these explanations. We give them credit for. rejecting the jejune and uninformed speculations, which, to make a place for the doctrine, must first put the eye and the soul out of the whole revelations of God, make them without intelligence, persuasion, or purpose; that afterwards they may magnify the office of the Spirit, in all at once taking off this veil, and making them legible and intelligible. This doctrine is not according to fact, for the word of God is of all books that which has produced the strongest influence upon the institutions of men, and which, perhaps, is the last book to lose its natural influence.upon individual men. It doth not convert all men, because all men do not know, do not believe, do not keep in memory, do not abide in its truths; but its truths are not passive truths, but of the sharpest and most active virtue. They can be resisted, doubtless, and they require fair play within the soul, and call for an energy of study and contemplation; but no man was ever yet brought out of darkness into light, but by some of these revelations taking hold upon his mind, and working by a natural influence upon all his feelings and all his actions.

This depreciation of the Word into an unintel

ligible legend, is not only against the fact of universal experience, but against the declarations of all Scripture, wherein the statutes, the commandments, the Word, the Son and the Spirit of God, are exalted with a mutual honour, and not one depreciated with the design of exalting another. But if there is one thing in Scripture more exalted than another, it is the Word, and that most wisely, because from it is the knowledge of all the rest, and of God himself. For lending a deaf ear to this most dangerous of all heresies, if we may use that cant term, we do give men credit; but if men thereupon would draw away from dependance upon God's Spirit, we hold them again, and pray them to consider, that because the Word is well fitted to enlighten the eyes of the blind and give understanding to the simple, its influence is nevertheless to be ascribed to the Spirit of Godin like manner as the fruits of the harvest, or the success of the mariner, and the general prosperity of life, are to be ascribed to the hand of God, though seemingly produced by no means but our own industry, skill, and carefulness. Nay more, though the Word has in it a constant virtue, and will have till the end of time, which virtue is only to be derived from it by a faithful perusal and persevering obedience; still, if we look not constantly to the Spirit of God for the increase, we shall never grow in religion, though in selfconceit and ingratitude we may grow-just in like manner as though the fertility reside in the elements of earth, water, air and heat, and may

« ForrigeFortsæt »