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vision and apprehension of the Father's will and glory which another may miss. And we require the sum of all Christian knowledge to help us toward the beginning of that which "passeth knowledge."

It has sometimes struck us as being one of the saddest fruits of schism in the Church, that it has begotten a kind of covetousness of truth and love. Christians hold their favourite doctrines as a sort of spiritual monopoly; loving truth for the distinction it may give to them, as the miser loves his gold, instead of loving it for the blessing and joy it may bring to others when imparted. To find the highest help in communion we must be willing to give all we have without stint; and to take from all who have acquired any riches of truth, however remote and out of ecclesiastical fellowship with us they may be. We make good our suggestion by borrowing from one whom we must own as a true saint, though found within the pale of an apostate body. Fenelon, shut up within the bounds of a narrow and exclusive Church, deprecated what he calls "the avarice of prayer," and not less the avarice of communion. With a most comprehensive charity he exclaims :

"Oh! how blessed it were to see all goods in common,' both of mind and of body, and that every one no longer regarded his thought, his opinions, his science, his light, his virtues, his noble sentiments, as his own. It is thus that the saints in heaven have all in God, and nothing for themselves alone. Theirs is a beatitude infinite and common to all, of which the ebb and flow cause the

abundance and satiety of all the blessed; each receiving his measure, each giving out all he has received. If men here below entered into this poverty of spirit and this community of spiritual gifts, we should see all disputes and all schisms come to an end. We cannot reform the Church except by thus reforming ourselves; then all would be only one spirit; the spirit of love and truth would be the soul of the members of the body of the Church, and would re-unite them in closest bonds. It would be a commencement of the new creation, of the paradise reserved for the world to come."

Probably it is the very highest attainment in prayer to gain real and sensible communications from the Lord. How few of us know very much of such experiences! We ask, and having soon exhausted the list of our requests, we give over asking. We know little of that importunate “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me." And when we read, for example, of Bishop Andrewes spending the greater part of five hours every day in prayer and devotion; or of John Welsh who thought that day i spent which did not witness eight or ten hours of closet communion, we ponder with amazement, if not with incredulity; and we ask ourselves how such prolonged praying could be possible without falling into an endless routine of vain repetition. So far as we can know, that which these men sought was communion. They were not merely begging something of God, and persisting in their suit till they should overcome His reluctance. They were seeking contact, fellowship, oneness of

mind and will with the Lord; they were gazing into the face of the Holy One, that so the divine transformation into His likeness might go on; they were striving by patient endurance to apprehend that for which they were apprehended of Christ Jesus; laying hold of God and giving themselves to be laid hold of by God. It is good for us to search for the secret of such communion, or at least to be quickened by it to a more prayerful life. How our careless intercessions are rebuked by a passage like this from the life of that excellent Covenanter, Robert Bruce. Says John Livingstone :—

"Upon one occasion I went to Edinburgh to see him in company with the tutor of Bonnington. When we called at eight in the morning, he told us he was not inclined for company; and on being urged to tell us the cause, he answered that when he went to bed he had a good measure of the Lord's presence, but that he had wrestled about an hour or two before we came, and had not yet got access; and so we left him."


Here is a bit of spiritual history so antique and strange that we almost need an interpreter to translate it into the dialect of common experience. How many Christians have prayed for years without ever having striven to get "access," or even known that such a thing were possible.

A communion, we have observed, in which something is imparted from God to us as well as some

* "Scots Worthies," p. 159.

thing asked of God by us, should be constantly sought. Is it possible for the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, to make direct and intelligible communications to our spirits, instructing us in regard to duty, and clearly enlightening us respecting His will? Certainly, Christians who have sought to read God's handwriting from the tablet of consciousness, have often been deceived and led into grievous mistakes. This fact should be admitted and marked for our warning and admonition, as should also the supplementary fact that the Holy Scriptures are the great and principal manual of instructions for Christian duty. But there are emergencies when we need more minute and specific directions than could possibly be contained in so general a book. And certainly the Holy Spirit does give these to those who wait upon Him. But how? We should say generally by a providential guidance. If we seek submissively and humbly to be directed by the Spirit, we shall be so led, though we may not know the way beforehand. That is to say, the Spirit within the believer will rather incline him to go in the right way, than say distinctly to his inner ear, "This is the way, walk ye in it." The author of the Theologia Germanica states this idea truly, though somewhat extremely, when he says that one who is led by the Spirit is "so possessed by the Spirit of God that he does not know what he doeth or leaveth undone, and hath no power over himself; but the will and Spirit of God has the mastery

over him, and works and does and leaves undone with him and by him as God would." Besides this we must believe that to obedient and humble souls the Master does sometimes speak in distinct tones, through the Spirit. But it is only to "a mind inwardly retired before the Lord" that this privilege is given; it is only ears made divinely sensitive by long communion with Christ, that can catch His still small voice as it speaks in the depths of the heart.

For instruction on this point let us refer to a single teacher. Catherine of Siena, that pearl of piety and purity shining so conspicuously among the corruption of the 14th century, has left us several chapters of her "Dialogue" with God. She explains that the Saviour did not communicate with her by words, but by impressions so distinct and unquestionable that she was able afterwards to write them down. To those who question the reality of such communications her biographer well says: "Go and make the attempt to live a life of prayer such as she lived, and then, and then only, can you have any shadow of a right or any power to judge of this soul's dealings with God." Reading the story of her saintly life, of her consecration so simple and so free from the superstitions of her age, we are inclined to think that God would be as likely to speak to her as to any whom we could name. And interposing again a warning against trusting to mere impressions, we may still ask if

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