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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 greater than the greatest of the prophets, who had gone before him-yet, in the very same respect, he was less than the least in the kingdom of heaven; or less than the least enlightened of the Christian disciples who should come after him.

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.

brought them to their remembrance; and He made them skilful in the discernment of Scripture—a term applied exclusively at that time to the writings of the Old Testament; and He, not only cleared away the external darkness which rested 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.

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 So that the office of the Holy Ghost not know Him, just as the eyes of their with the apostles, was, not merely to show mind were holden that they should not them things new respecting Christ, but to know the things which were said in Moses make them see things both new and old. and the prophets and all the Scriptures The former of His functions, as we said concerning Himself, they at length came before, has now ceased-nor have we 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 spiritubrightly 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

all. It is not because He is dark, but because we are blind that we do not understand Him; and we give you, not a piece of inert orthodoxy, but a piece of information which may be turned to use and to account on your very next perusal of any part of the Bible-when we say that it is the office of the Spirit to open the eye of your mind to the meaning of its intimations, and that God will not refuse His holy Spirit to those who ask Him.

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 of our practical movements. We set ourselves forth to the work of reading and understanding the Bible, just as we would any human composition-and this is so far right-for it is only when thus employed that we have any reason to look for the Spirit's agency in our behalf. But surely the fact of His agency being essential, is one, not of speculative but of practical importance-and ought to admonish 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 We should like if this important part in testimony of the Bible is held forth as the the process of man's recovery to God, held process, in every distinct and individual a more conspicuous place in your estima- case, whereby each man at his conversion tion. We should like you to view it as a is called out of darkness into marvellous standing provision for the church of Christ light. On the other hand, to deny such a in all ages. It was not set up for a mere fulness and such a sufficiency of doctrine temporary purpose, to shed a fleeting in the Bible, as if beheld and believed is brilliancy over an age of gifted and illu- enough for salvation, is to count it necesminated men that has now rolled by. sary that something should be added to Such is the value, and such the perma- the words of the prophecy of this book, nency of this gift of the Holy Ghost, that which if any man do, God will add unto 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 shall call." We think that if we saw Christ in person, and had the explanation of our Bibles from His own mouth, this would infallibly conduct us to the highest eminences of spiritual wisdom. But blessed be they who have not seen, but yet have believed-and Christ hath expressly told us, that it is better He should go away from the world, for "if He did not go away the Spirit would not come-but that if He went away He would send Him." What the mysterious connection is between Christ's entrance into heaven, and the free egress of the Holy Ghost upon earth, it is not for us to enquire. But such is the revealed fact, that we are in better circumstances for being guided unto all truth by having a part and an interest in this promise, than if we had personal access to the Saviour still sojourning and still ministering amongst us. Let us not despise that which has so mighty a place assigned to it in the counsels of God and if heretofore, a darkness has hung over

splendour the sun of revelation, or even to clear away any clouds that may have gathered over the face of it. His office is to clarify our organs of perception, and to move away that film from the spiritual eye, which, till He begins to operate, adheres with the utmost obstinacy in the case of every individual of our species. The ebbs and the alternations of spiritual light in our world, are not due to any fluctuating movements, in the flame, which issues from that luminary that has been hung out as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our paths. It is due to the variations which take place, of soundness or disease, in the organs of the beholders. That veil which was at one time on the face of Moses, is now upon the heart of the unconverted Israelites. The blindness is in their minds, and they are in darkness, just because of this veil being yet untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament. When they turn to the Lord, there will be no change made either in the Old Testament or in the

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 worldand that light shines upon all to whom the word of salvation is sent. But though it shines upon all, it does not shine into all. He hath already commanded the light to shine out of darkness-and we now wait for that opening and purifying of the organ of conveyance which is upon our person, that it may shine into our hearts and thence give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. The period of the new dispensation has been a period of light, as much from the increase of vision as from the increase of visibility. The vacillation of this light from one age to another, is not from any periodical changes in the decay or the brightening of the outward luminary. It is from the partial shuttings and openings of a screen of interception. And, in those millennial days, when the gospel, in full and unclouded brilliancy, shall shine upon the world-it will not be because light came down to it from heaven in a tide of more copious supply-but because God will destroy the face of the covering that is cast over all people; and the veil that is spread over all nations.

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 the darkness of its hidden mysteries, bring to the openness of day some secret thing that before was inaccessible. All that we shall ever find is in that word which is nigh unto us, even in our mouth; and which, by the penetrating energies of Him in whose hand it becometh a sword, can find its way through all the dark and obstructed avenues of nature, and reach its convictions and its influences and its lessons to the very thoughts and intents of the heart. If you be longing for a light which you have not yet gotten-it is worth your knowing, that the firmament of a man's spiritual vision is already set round with all its splendours-that not one additional lamp will for your behoof be hung out from the canopy of heaventhat the larger and the lesser lights of revelation are already ordained, and not so much as one twinkling luminary will either be added or expunged from this hemisphere of the soul, till this material earth and these material heavens be made to pass away-and therefore, if still sitting in the region and under the shadow of death, there be any of you who long to be ushered into the manifestations of the gospel, know that this is done, not by any The light is exceedingly near to every change in that which is without, but by a one of us, and we might even now be in change in that which is within-by a the full and satisfactory enjoyment of it-medicating process upon your own faculwere it not for a something in ourselves. ties-by the simplicity of a personal opeAll that is necessary is, that the veil, ration. 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 who are blind, that they may see the characters of a steady unchangeable and

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 New Testament-how one apostle affirms, that he who hateth his brother is in blindness; and another, that he who lacketh

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darkness. He who is desirous of doing God's will shall know of Christ's doctrine that it is of God.' He whose eye is single shall have the whole body full of light.' Light is sown unto the upright, and breaketh forth as the morning to those who judge the widow and the fatherless.' 'To him who hath, more shall be given' and 'he who keepeth my sayings, to him will I manifest myself.' These are testimonies which clearly bespeak, what ought to be the conduct of him who is in quest of spiritual manifestation. They will serve to guide the seeker in his way to that rest, which all attain who have attained an acquaintance with the unseen Creator. It is a rest which he labours to enter into and, in despite of freezing speculation, does he turn the call of repentance to the immediate account of urging himself on to all deeds of conformity with the divine will, to all good and holy services.

certain virtues is blind and cannot see afar off; and another, that men who did not, up to what they knew, award the glory and the gratitude to God, had their foolish hearts darkened, so as to have that which they at one time possessed taken away from them; and our Saviour resolving the condemnation of men's unbelief into the principle that they loved the darkness, and therefore wilfully shut their eyes to the truth that was offered-all this goes to demonstrate, that presumptuous sin stands in the way of spiritual discernment; that evil deeds, and the indulgence of evil affections, serve to thicken that film which has settled upon the mental eye, and obscures its every perception of the truths of revelation. And this much at least may be turned into a matter of sure and practical inference from all these elucidations-that the man who is not yet awakened to a sense of his iniquities, and not evincing it by putting forth upon them the hand of a strenuous and determined But more than this. It is the Spirit who reform; that the man who stifles the voice opens the understanding; and He is afof conscience within him, and, the slave fected by the treatment which He receives of his inveterate habits, never, either in from the subject on which He operates. practice or in prayer, makes an honest It is true that He has been known at struggle for his own emancipation; that times to magnify the freeness of the grace he who makes not a single effort against of God, by arresting the sinner in the full the conformities or the associations of speed and determination of his impetuous worldliness; and, far more, he who still career; and turning him, in despite of persists in its dishonesties or its grosser himself, to the refuge and the righteousdissipations-he may stand all his days ness of the gospel. But, speaking generon the immediate margin of a brightness ally, He is grieved by resistance, He is that is altogether celestial, and yet, in quenched by carelessness, He is provoked virtue of an interposed barrier which he by the constant baffling of His endeavours, is doing all he can to make more opake to check and to convince and to admonand impenetrable, may he, with the Bible ish. On the other hand He is courted by before his eyes, be groping in all the compliance; He is encouraged by the fadarkness and in more than all the guilt of vourable reception of His influences; He heathenism. These sins infuse a sore and is given in larger measure to those who a deadly distemper into his organs of per- obey Him; and He follows up your doception, and by every wilful repetition of cility under one dictate and one suggesthem is the distemper more fixed and per- tion, by freer and fuller manifestations. petuated and therefore it is that we call In other words, if to thwart your conupon those who desire for light, to cherish science be to thwart Him, and if to act no hope whatever of its attainment, while with your conscience be to act with Him they persist in any doings which they-what is this to say, but that every inknow to be wrong. We call upon them quirer after the way of salvation, has to frame their doings in turning to the something to do at the very outset in the Lord if they wish the veil to be taken furtherance of his object? What is this 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."

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 sin and spiritual

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 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 depredations. And though in that region of spir

itual light upon which he is entering, he last messenger is at the door. There is will learn that he never can be at peace not time for cold criticisms, or laborious with God till he lean on a better righte-investigations, or splendid oratory, or proousness than his own-yet such is the in- found argument-when death has broke fluence of the doctrines of grace on every loose amongst us, and is spreading his genuine inquirer, that, from the first havoc amongst our earthly tabernaclesdawning of his obscure perception of when he is wresting away from us the dethem, to the splendour of their full and lights and the ornaments of our society finished manifestation, is there the break- upon earth-when he is letting us see, by ing and the stir and the assiduous effort examples the most affecting, of what frail of a busy and ever-doing reformation- and perishable materials human life is carrying him onwards from the more pal-made up-and is dealing out another and pable rectitudes of ordinary and every- another reproof to that accursed delay, day conduct, to the high and sacred and which leads man to trifle on the brink of spiritual elevation of a soul ripening for the grave, and to smile and be secure, heaven, and following hard after God. while the weapons of mortality are flying We know that we are now standing on thick around him. When will we be the borders of controversy. But we are brought to the beginning of wisdom-to far more solicitous for such an impression the fear of God-to the desire of doing as will lead you to act, than for any spe- His will-to the accomplishment of that culative adjustment. And yet how true it desire, by our believing in the name of is, that, for the purpose of a practical ef- His only-begotten Son, and loving one fect, there is not one instrument so power- another even as He has given us comful and so prevailing as the peculiar doc-mandment? Let us work while it is day trine of the gospel. It is the belief that a-and, set in motion by the encouragedebt unextinguishable by us has been ex-ments of the gospel, let us instantly betinguished by another it is the know- come the followers of them who through ledge that that God, who can never lay faith and patience are now inheriting the aside either His truth or His righteousness, promises. has found out such a way for the dispensation of mercy as serves to exalt and to illustrate them both-it is the view of that great transaction by which He laid on His own Son the iniquities of us all, and has thus done away an otherwise invincible barrier which lay across the path of acceptance-it is the precious conviction that Christ has died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and thus has turned aside the penalties of a law, and by the very act wherewith He has magnified that law and made it honourable-it is this, which seen, however faintly by the eye of faith, first looses the bond of despair, and gives a hope and an outlet for obedience. The subtile metaphysics of the So that all which is said of the Scripquestion, about the order of succession tures in the New Testament, must be rewith the two graces of faith and of repent-garded as the testimony of its authors to ance, may entertain or they may perplex the value and importance of those writings you. But of this you may be very certain, that, where there is no repentance, all the dogmas of a contentious orthodoxy put together will never make out the reality of faith-and, where there is no faith, all the drudgeries of a most literal and laborious adherence to the outward matter of the law will never make out the reality of repentance.

Life is too short for controversy. Charged with all the urgency of a matter on hand, we tell you to turn and flee and make fast work of your preparation for a coming eternity. The sum and substance of the preparation is, that you believe what the Bible tells you, and do what the Bible bids you. Bestir yourselves, for the

You occasionally meet in the New Testament, with an express reference to a certain body of writings, which are designated by the term of Scriptures. We now apply this term to the whole Bible. But, in those days, it was restricted to that collection of pieces which makes up the Old Testament. For the new was only in the process of its formation, and was not yet completed; and it was not till some time after the evangelists wrote their narratives, and the apostles their communications, that they were gathered into one volume, or made to stand in equal and coordinate rank with the inspired books of the former dispensation.

which compose the Old Testament. And it would therefore appear from Paul's epistle to Timothy, that they are able to make us wise unto salvation.

There can be no doubt, however that one ingredient of this ability is, that they refer us in a way so distinct and so authoritative to the events of the New Dispensation. They give evidence to the commission of our Saviour, and through Him to the commission of all His apostles. The wisdom which they teach, is a wisdom which would guide us forward to the posterior revelations of Christianity. The Old Testament is a region of comparative dimness. But still there is light enough there, for making visible the many in

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