Imágenes de páginas

of Christ. But till that Spirit gave the | which had arisen on the outward page of power of discernment, as well as set be- revelation, had also dawned and arisen fore them the objects of discernment-upon their own hearts-not, in short, till their attempts were nugatory. And in- the great agent of all revelation, even the deed they were sensible of this, and ac- Holy Spirit who had already furnished the quiesced in it. It was told them by reve- object of perception in the word, had also lation, that the subject matter of their pro- furnished the organ of perception in the phecy was not for themselves, but for understanding-not till then, were the inothers-even for those to whom the gospel quirers after the truth as it is in Jesus should be preached in future days, and effectually introduced, to a full acquaintwho, along with the ministration of the ance with all its parts,—or to the full beexternal word, were to receive the minis-nefit of all its influence. tration of the Holy Ghost-whose office it is to put into the mouths of prophets the things which are to be looked to and believed, and whose office also it is to put into the hearts of others the power of seeing and believing these things. And it serves clearly to mark the distinction between these two offices, that the prophets, alluded to in this passage, presented to the world a set of truths which they themselves did not understand-and that again the private disciples of Peter, who were not so learned as to be made the original and inspired authors of such a communication, were honoured with the far more valuable privilege of being made to understand it.

We cannot take leave of this passage, without adverting to the importance of that practical injunction which is contained in it. They who are still in darkness are called upon to look, and with earnestness too, to a particular quarter; and that is the word of God-and to do so until the power of vision was granted to them. If a blind man were desirous of beholding a landscape, and had the hope at the same time of having his sight miraculously restored to him, he might, even when blind, go to the right post of observation, and turn his face to the right direction, and thus wait for the recovery of that power which was extinguished. And, in like manner, we are all at the right post, when we are giving heed to our Bibles. We are all going through a right exercise, when, with the strenuous application of our natural powers, we are reading and pondering and comparing and remembering the words of the testimony-and if asked, how long we should persevere in this employment, let us persevere in it with patience and prayer until, as Peter says, the day dawn and the day-star arise in our hearts.

This we think will appear still more clearly from another passage of the same apostle in 2 Peter i. 19-21. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were That John the Baptist should not know moved by the Holy Ghost." No prophecy himself to have been he who was to come is of private interpretation. It was not in the spirit and power of Elijah; and suggested by the natural sense of him hence, in reply to the question Art thou who uttered it-and as little is it under- Elias? should say that I am not—whereas stood, or can it be explained, by the na- our Saviour affirmed of him, that he was tural powers of the same person. He the Elias who should come-this ignorwas the mere recipient of a higher influ-ance of his may be as much due to the ence; and he conveyed what he had thus want of outward information about the received to the world-speaking not of his point, as to any lack in the faculty of own will but just as he was moved by the discernment. The same thing however Holy Ghost-and enabled to discern or to can scarcely be said of his ignorance of expound the meaning of what he had thus the true character of the very Messiah spoken, not of his own power, but just as whom he himself foretold-insomuch, that, the same Holy Ghost who gave him the though he had baptized him and attested materials of contemplation, gave him also him to be the Lamb of God, and had seen the faculty of a just and true contempla- the Spirit descending upon him like a tion. The light of which he was barely dove-yet he seems afterwards to have the organ of transmission, shone in a dark been so much startled by the obscurity of place, so long as it shone upon the blind: his circumstances, and by the style of his and, not till the blind was made to see companionship which looked unsuitable not till the eyes of those, who were taking to the character of a great Prince and heed to the letter of the prophecy, were Deliverer, that, in perplexity about the opened to perceive the life and meaning matter, he sent his disciples to Jesus to and spirit of the prophecy-not till that ask whether he was the person who should day which has dawned, and that day-star come or they had to look for another

He laboured under such a disadvantage, | He made them see old things more clearly whether of darkness or of blindness about than before; and that, by a direct work the whole nature of the new dispensation, on the power of mental perception, He that though, in respect of light, he was brought them to their remembrance; and greater than the greatest of the prophets, He made them skilful in the discernment who had gone before him-yet, in the of Scripture-a term applied exclusively very same respect, he was less than the at that time to the writings of the Old least in the kingdom of heaven; or less Testament; and He, not only cleared than the least enlightened of the Christian away the external darkness which rested disciples who should come after him. on that part of Christian doctrine that was still unpromulgated, but He strengthened and purified that organ of discernment through which the light both of things new and old finds its way into the heart-insomuch that we know not two states of understanding which stand more decidedly contrasted with each other, than that of the apostles before, and of the same apostles after the resurrection—so that from being timid irresolute, confused, and altogether doubting and unsatisfied inquirers, they became the brave unshrinking and consistent ministers of a spiritual faith-looking back both on the writings of the Old Testament, and on our Saviour's conversations with other eyes than they had formerly, and enabled so to harmonize them all with their subsequent revelations, as to make them perceive an evangelical spirit and an evangelical meaning even in those earlier communications, which, of themselves, shed so dim and so feeble a lustre over the patriarchal and the prophetic ages.

The constant misapprehension of our Saviour's own immediate disciples, of which we read so much in the Gospels, was certainly due as much to their being blind as to their being in the dark-to their defect in the power of seeing, as to any defect in the visibility of what was actually set before them.


So that the office of the Holy Ghost with the apostles, was, not merely to show them things new respecting Christ, but to make them see things both new and old. The former of His functions, as we said before, has now ceased-nor have we

We read of our Saviour's sayings being hid from them, that they perceived not and of His dealing out the light of external truth to them, as their eyes were able to bear it--and of His averring, in spite of all he had dealt out in the course of his personal ministrations upon earth, of His averring, at the close of these ministrations, that as yet they knew nothing, though if they had had the power of discernment, they might surely have learned much from what is now before us in the Gospels, and of which they were both the eye and the ear witnesses. We further read, that after the resurrection, when He met two of his disciples, and the eyes of their body were holden that they should not know Him, just as the eyes of their mind were holden that they should not know the things which were said in Moses and the prophets and all the Scriptures concerning Himself, they at length came to recognize His person-not by any ad-reason to believe, that, during the whole ditional light thrown upon the external currency of our present world, there will object, but simply by their eyes being another article of doctrine or information opened; and they also came to recognize be given to us, than what is already Him in the Scriptures-not by any change treasured up in the written and unalteror any addition to the word of their testi-able word of God's communications. But mony, but simply by their understandings the latter function is still in full exercise. being opened to understand them. We It did not cease with the apostolic age. also read of the descent of the Holy Ghost The external revelation is completed. in the day of Pentecost-that event on But, for the power of beholding aright the which our Saviour set such an import- truths which it sets before us, we are just ance, as to make it more than an equiva- as dependent on the Holy Ghost as the lent for His own presence in the way of apostles of old were. His miraculous teaching and enlightening the minds of gifts and His conveyances of additional his apostles. "If I go not away, He will doctrine are now over. But His whole not come unto you-but if I depart, then work in the church of Christ is not nearly Him who is not yet given, because I am over. He has shed all the light that He not yet glorified, I will send unto you. ever will do over the field of revelation. And He will guide you into all truth, and But He has still to open the eyes of the take of my things, and show them unto blind; and, with every individual of the you." There is no doubt that He showed human race, has He to turn him from a them new things, which we have in the natural man who cannot receive the Epistles; and so made the light of exter- things of the Spirit to a spiritual man by nal revelation shine more fully and whom alone these things can be spiritu brightly upon them. But there is as little ally discerned. doubt, that, in His office as a Revealer,

There is with many amongst us, an un

dervaluing of this part of the Christian | the pages of the word of His testimonydispensation. The office of the Holy let us feel assured that in Him or in His Ghost as a revealer is little adverted to, communications there is no darkness at and therefore little proceeded upon in any all. It is not because He is dark, but beof our practical movements. We set our-cause we are blind that we do not underselves forth to the work of reading and stand Him; and we give you, not a piece understanding the Bible, just as we would of inert orthodoxy, but a piece of inforany human composition-and this is so mation which may be turned to use and far right for it is only when thus em- to account on your very next perusal of ployed that we have any reason to look any part of the Bible-when we say that for the Spirit's agency in our behalf. it is the office of the Spirit to open the eye But surely the fact of His agency being of your mind to the meaning of its intiessential, is one, not of speculative but of mations, and that God will not refuse His practical importance-and ought to ad- holy Spirit to those who ask Him. monish us, that there is one peculiarity, by which the book of God stands distinguished from the book of a human author, and that is that it is not enough it should be read with the spirit of attention, but with the spirit of dependence and of prayer.


This brings us by a very summary process to the resolution of the question How is it that the Spirit acts as a revealer of truth to the human understanding? To deny Him this office, on the one hand, is, in fact, to set aside what by the fullest testimony of the Bible is held forth as the process, in every distinct and individual case, whereby each man at his conversion is called out of darkness into marvellous light. On the other hand, to deny such a fulness and such a sufficiency of doctrine in the Bible, as if beheld and believed is enough for salvation, is to count it necessary that something should be added to the words of the prophecy of this book, which if any man do, God will add unto

We should like if this important part in the process of man's recovery to God, held a more conspicuous place in your estimation. We should like you to view it as a standing provision for the church of Christ in all ages. It was not set up for a mere temporary purpose, to shed a fleeting brilliancy over an age of gifted and illuminated men that has now rolled by. Such is the value, and such the permanency of this gift of the Holy Ghost, that it almost looks to be the great and ulti-him all the plagues that are written theremate design of Christ's undertaking, to in. There is no difficulty in effecting a obtain the dispensation of it, as the ac- reconciliation between these two parties. complishment of a promise by His Father. The Spirit guides unto all truth, and all And when Peter explained to the multi- truth is to be found in the Bible-The tude its first and most wondrous exhibition Spirit therefore guides us unto the Bible. on the day of Pentecost, he did not restrict He gives us that power of discernment, it to one period or to one country of the by which we are wisely and intelligently world. But the gift of the Holy Ghost is conducted through all its passages. His "unto you," he says, "and to your chil-office is not to brighten into additional dren, and to as many as the Lord our God splendour the sun of revelation, or even shall call." We think that if we saw to clear away any clouds that may have Christ in person, and had the explanation gathered over the face of it. His office is of our Bibles from His own mouth, this to clarify our organs of perception, and would infallibly conduct us to the highest to move away that film from the spiritual eminences of spiritual wisdom. But bless-eye, which, till He begins to operate, aded be they who have not seen, but yet heres with the utmost obstinacy in the have believed-and Christ hath expressly case of every individual of our species. told us, that it is better He should go away The ebbs and the alternations of spiritual from the world, for "if He did not go light in our world, are not due to any away the Spirit would not come-but that fluctuating movements, in the flame, if He went away He would send Him." which issues from that luminary that has What the mysterious connection is be- been hung out as a lamp unto our feet tween Christ's entrance into heaven, and and a light unto our paths. It is due to the free egress of the Holy Ghost upon the variations which take place, of soundearth, it is not for us to enquire. But such ness or disease, in the organs of the beis the revealed fact, that we are in better holders. That veil which was at one time circumstances for being guided unto all on the face of Moses, is now upon the truth by having a part and an interest in heart of the unconverted Israelites. The this promise, than if we had personal ac- blindness is in their minds, and they are cess to the Saviour still sojourning and in darkness, just because of this veil bestill ministering amongst us. Let us not ing yet untaken away in the reading of despise that which has so mighty a place the Old Testament. When they turn tc assigned to it in the counsels of God and the Lord, there will be no change made if heretofore, a darkness has hung over either in the Old Testament or in the

[ocr errors]

ever-during record. The light is near us, and round about us; and all that remains to be done for its being poured into the innermost recesses of every soul, is the destruction of that little tegument which lies in the channel of communication, between the objects which are visible and him for whose use and whose perception they are intended. To come in contact with spiritual light, we have not to ascend into heaven, and fetch an illuminated torch from its upper sanctuaries--we have not to descend into the deep, and, out of

New-but this veil which is now upon their faculties of spiritual discernment, will simply be taken away. The unconverted of our own country, to whom the gospel is hid, do not perceive it, not because there is a want of light in the gospel which would need to be augmented, but because the God of this world hath blinded their own minds, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ who is the image of God should shine unto them. God hath already commended all the external light of revelation, which he ever purposes to do, in behalf of our world—the darkness of its hidden mysteries, bring and that light shines upon all to whom to the openness of day some secret thing the word of salvation is sent. But though that before was inaccessible. All that we it shines upon all, it does not shine into shall ever find is in that word which is all. He hath already commanded the nigh unto us, even in our mouth; and light to shine out of darkness-and we which, by the penetrating energies of Him now wait for that opening and purifying in whose hand it becometh a sword, can of the organ of conveyance which is upon find its way through all the dark and obour person, that it may shine into our structed avenues of nature, and reach its hearts and thence give us the light of the convictions and its influences and its lesknowledge of the glory of God in the face sons to the very thoughts and intents of of Christ Jesus. The period of the new the heart. If you be longing for a light dispensation has been a period of light, which you have not yet gotten-it is as much from the increase of vision as worth your knowing, that the firmament from the increase of visibility. The va- of a man's spiritual vision is already set cillation of this light from one age to round with all its splendours-that not another, is not from any periodical one additional lamp will for your behoof changes in the decay or the brightening be hung out from the canopy of heavenof the outward luminary. It is from the that the larger and the lesser lights of partial shuttings and openings of a screen revelation are already ordained, and not of interception. And, in those millennial so much as one twinkling luminary will days, when the gospel, in full and un-either be added or expunged from this clouded brilliancy, shall shine upon the hemisphere of the soul, till this material world-it will not be because light came earth and these material heavens be made down to it from heaven in a tide of more to pass away-and therefore, if still sitting copious supply-but because God will in the region and under the shadow of destroy the face of the covering that is death, there be any of you who long to be cast over all people; and the veil that is ushered into the manifestations of the gosspread over all nations. pel, know that this is done, not by any change in that which is without, but by a change in that which is within-by a medicating process upon your own faculties-by the simplicity of a personal operation.

The light is exceedingly near to every one of us, and we might even now be in the full and satisfactory enjoyment of itwere it not for a something in ourselves. All that is necessary is, that the veil, which hangs over our own senses, be destroyed. The obstacle in the way of spiritual manifestation, does not lie in the dimness of that which is without us-but in the state of our own personal faculties. Let the organ of discernment be only set right; and the thing to be discerned will then appear in its native brightness, and just in the very features and complexion which it has worn from the beginning, and in which it has offered itself to the view of all whose eyes have been opened by the Spirit of God, to behold the wondrous things contained in the book of God's law. His office is not to deal in variable revelations to a people sitting in darkness. It is to lift up the heavy eyelids of a people New Testament-how one apostle affirms, who are blind, that they may see the cha-that he who hateth his brother is in blindracters of a steady unchangeable and | ness; and another, that he who lacketh


This is something more than the mere didactic affirmation of a speculative or scholastic Theology. It contains within its bosom the rudiments of a most important practical direction, to every reader and every inquirer. If I do not see, not because there is a darkness around me, but because there is a blindness upon me adhering in the shape of a personal attribute—it were a matter of great practical account to ascertain, if this defect do not stand associated with other defects in my character and mind which are also personal. And when we read of the way in which the moral and the intellectual are blended together in the doctrines of the

certain virtues is blind and cannot see | darkness. He who is desirous of doing afar off; and another, that men who did God's will shall know of Christ's doctrine not, up to what they knew, award the that it is of God.' He whose eye is singlory and the gratitude to God, had their gle shall have the whole body full of foolish hearts darkened, so as to have that light.' Light is sown unto the upright, which they at one time possessed taken and breaketh forth as the morning to away from them; and our Saviour resolv- those who judge the widow and the fathering the condemnation of men's unbelief less.' 'To him who hath, more shall be into the principle that they loved the given' and 'he who keepeth my sayings, darkness, and therefore wilfully shut their to him will I manifest myself.' These are eyes to the truth that was offered-all this testimonies which clearly bespeak, what goes to demonstrate, that presumptuous ought to be the conduct of him who is in sin stands in the way of spiritual discern- quest of spiritual manifestation. They ment; that evil deeds, and the indulgence will serve to guide the seeker in his way of evil affections, serve to thicken that to that rest, which all attain who have atfilm which has settled upon the mental tained an acquaintance with the unseen eye, and obscures its every perception of Creator. It is a rest which he labours the truths of revelation. And this much to enter into-and, in despite of freezing at least may be turned into a matter of speculation, does he turn the call of resure and practical inference from all these pentance to the immediate account of urgelucidations-that the man who is not yet ing himself on to all deeds of conformity awakened to a sense of his iniquities, and with the divine will, to all good and holy not evincing it by putting forth upon them services. the hand of a strenuous and determined reform; that the man who stifles the voice of conscience within him, and, the slave of his inveterate habits, never, either in practice or in prayer, makes an honest struggle for his own emancipation; that he who makes not a single effort against the conformities or the associations of worldliness; and, far more, he who still persists in its dishonesties or its grosser dissipations he may stand all his days on the immediate margin of a brightness that is altogether celestial, and yet, in virtue of an interposed barrier which he is doing all he can to make more opake and impenetrable, may he, with the Bible before his eyes, be groping in all the darkness and in more than all the guilt of heathenism. These sins infuse a sore and a deadly distemper into his organs of perception, and by every wilful repetition of them is the distemper more fixed and perpetuated-and therefore it is that we call upon those who desire for light, to cherish no hope whatever of its attainment, while they persist in any doings which they know to be wrong. We call upon them to frame their doings in turning to the Lord if they wish the veil to be taken away-and, instead of hesitating about the order of precedency between faith and practice, or about the way in which they each reciprocate upon the other, we call upon them simply and honestly to betake themselves to the apostolical order of "Awake, O sinner, and Christ shall give thee light."


But more than this. It is the Spirit who opens the understanding; and He is affected by the treatment which He receives from the subject on which He operates. It is true that He has been known at times to magnify the freeness of the grace of God, by arresting the sinner in the full speed and determination of his impetuous career; and turning him, in despite of himself, to the refuge and the righteousness of the gospel. But, speaking generally, He is grieved by resistance, He is quenched by carelessness, He is provoked by the constant baffling of His endeavours, to check and to convince and to admonish. On the other hand He is courted by compliance; He is encouraged by the favourable reception of His influences; He is given in larger measure to those who obey Him; and He follows up your docility under one dictate and one suggestion, by freer and fuller manifestations. In other words, if to thwart your conscience be to thwart Him, and if to act with your conscience be to act with Him

There is another set of passages which may be quoted as a counterpart to the former, and which go to demonstrate the connection between obedience and spiritual light-even as the others prove a connection between sir. and spiritual

what is this to say, but that every inquirer after the way of salvation, has something to do at the very outset in the furtherance of his object? What is this to say, but that a nascent concern about the soul should instantly be associated with a nascent activity in the prosecution of its interests? What What is this to say, but that the man should, plainly and in good earnest, forthwith turn himself to all that is right? If he have been hitherto a drunkard, let him abandon his profligacies. If he have been hitherto a profaner of the Sabbath, let him abandon the habit of taking his own pleasure upon that day, If he have been hitherto a defrauder, let him abandon his deceits and his depreda tions. And though in that region of spir

« AnteriorContinuar »