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power, but who desires to know what is the peculiar fault and deficiency in himself and in others which prevent its efficacy. Nor need he disquiet himself by a long and difficult research; the answer to his difficulty may readily be found.

Christianity may be looked at in two different points of view, as it regards the world, and as it regards individuals.

In the first case it is to be considered as a better rule of life, and is more or less valuable as it is more or less efficacious. A comparison of Christian and Heathen Society will at once shew that Christianity, (even as it stands in its abridged efficacy) is the most blessed boon ever bestowed on man as a social being, and that the imperfect acceptance of the gospel scheme, and the imperfect comprehension of its principle are no bar to its usefulness towards society except in degree. Not so in the case of the individual. Here too, no doubt, any acceptance of the Christian law will make men better members of society. For they cannot be blind to the fact that many sins are strictly forbidden, and that heavy threats are uttered against those who commit them. Thus the hand may be often checked and stayed in its commission of crime, and society reaps the advantage. But how fares it with the heart ? Here is the whole secret and the whole difficulty. If Christianity, as it is to affect the conduct and character of man, be considered only as a better and more pure and perfect rule of life, given by a higher authority, and enforced by fuller and more awful sanctions, its difference from the systems of the Porch and the Academy is a difference only in degree. It may correct some great errors and supply some great deficiencies, it may set up a high and elevated standard of moral action, but there its merit would cease, and there its pretensions ought to cease also. Now the real superiority of Christianity considered as a guide of life, is that it not only supplies a rule, but supplies to mankind that which they want far more than a rule, the means of following one. Of what avail could it be indeed to offer the purest rule, if the being to whom it is offered, is frail and unable to act up to it? By such a law there might be a knowledge of sin, and thus the contrast between the state in which man is and that in which he ought to be, might be pressed upon his notice. But there it would leave him, guilty and miserable, oppressed with a consciousness of his own weakness and wickedness, but unable to escape from them. Or sin taking occasion by the commandment, holy, just and good as it might be, would work in him all manner of concupiscence, the evil of our nature being irritated and called forth by the opposition offered to it.

Now it is the characteristic and distinguishing feature of Christianity to present to man that which he requires, namely, the means of overcoming his frailty and corruption: and that means is the help of God's Holy Spirit given us for the sake and the merits of our blessed Saviour and Redeemer. It has been said with great ingenuity and beauty', and in some degree with truth, that the special promise of the Comforter who was to console and compensate to the Christians for the loss of their Lord, and to lead mankind through all ages into all truth, points more distinctly to the precious and inestimable gift of Scripture. But I do not now refer to any one, or any particular promise, but to the promises of the whole gospel, and I mean that the excellence of the Christian scheme as a scheme for improving and elevating the moral condition of man consists in its more distinct offer and more abundant imparting of the grace of God's Spirit. The Jew doubtless had this, the Heathen doubtless had it, and has it still, each in his own measure and degree, ‘God being with them, when they know it not?,' but to none of them was it offered, to none was it promised, no such promise being found even in the Mosaic covenant; and so no one of them could be taught to seek it, or to rely on its blessed influence for his improvement. When we consider this, that the help of God's Holy Spirit, I mean, is the grand and distinctive mark of Christianity, as a scheme of moral improvement, it becomes obvious at once, that an imperfect acceptance of Christianity, as far as regards the raising and cleansing of the heart, is no acceptance at all; that it must be received wholly and entirely, or not at all. If we do not see, recognize, and accept the spiritual principle of Christianity, we may be washed in the waters of baptism and called by the name of our Master, we may imagine that we are endeavouring to guide ourselves by the Gospel, nay! as often as we abstain from any vice forbidden in it, we may flatter ourselves with a hope that we are making progress in our Christian calling, whereas in truth we are as far from being Christians, as the disciples of Mahomet or of Brahma. But although the value of Christianity consists in supplying to its subjects a principle of victory over sin and over death, it does not compel the acceptance of that principle. That He who can do all things, could compel the reception of any principle of improvement which He offered, need not be said. But it would seem that our Heavenly Father wills not simply the improvement of His creatures, for doubtless He could force us all into virtue, but their improvement according to certain laws and methods which still leave them free. He knoweth indeed whereof we are made, and remembereth that we are but dust; He knoweth that we cannot of ourselves work the elevation or improvement of our own sinful hearts, and accordingly He will work in us both to will and to do. But He leaves us free to accept that gracious aid to our salvation, or to reject it to our ruin.

1 By Bishop Heber

his Bampton Lectures.

2 Wordsworth.

On its reception our moral improvement, and the triumph of the Gospel scheme depend, not in part but entirely. And the reason why that scheme does not enjoy a larger portion of that triumph which it anticipates for man, and which it could ensure him, is not that, on the one hand, its promises are false and fallacious, not that it does not lay down a pure system of morals, not that it is disbelieved, not that it is renounced; but that while it is received and professed, its grand and characteristic feature is overlooked and despised. There is not in fact, I fear, with many men, that firm faith in the truth and certainty of the peculiar assistance which the Gospel promises, and then there cannot be that earnest seeking and longing for that peculiar assistance, without which, when offered, it will either be rejected, or attain such tardy and reluctant admittance, as will make it ineffectual to good. To admit the external evidence of Christianity, to allow the excellence of its moral precepts, 'is by comparison an easy task; but to converse with Heaven", to endure, as seeing him that is invisible, to live by faith, not sight, this is not easy.

Yet on the one hand such converse, and such faith are required from the Christian and are essential to his character--and on the other, the promises of this viewless help and aid are written in characters so plain that he who runs may read, they so penetrate the whole Gospel system and are so indissolubly interwoven in it, that the rejection of them is a virtual rejection of the whole dispensation. But if it be asked how this grace of God is given and when it comes, the Christian teacher need not fear to express his total ignorance, and his inability to answer. He knoweth not whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth. It is bound by no limits of time or of occasion, it is subject in its operations to no laws discernible by the finite capacity of man.

There is no time and no place where the voice of the Comforter cannot be, and is not heard. The earth with all its joys, the vault

1 Wordsworth.

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