« PreviousContinue »
argument which, to the eye of their intellect, has exceedingly bedimmed the question, and put it on an elevation, which, be it sound or be it fanciful, they regard as being hopelessly and inaccessibly above them. And so they incline to keep by the position which they at present occupy, and to attempt nothing higher-leaving this adventurous flight to others, but satisfied themselves with the more palpable reasonings of Leslie and Littleton and Butler and Lardner and Paley.
18. Our first reply to this is, that they do not set aside the rational, when they enter on the consideration of the spiritual evidence, or when they attempt in their own persons to realise it. They need not forego a single advantage which they have gained. The spiritual evidence does not darken or cast an uncertainty over the rational evidence—no more unsettles, for example, the historical argument for the truth of the Christian religion, than it unsettles any of the demonstrations of geometry. If by this new opening they do not feel themselves led forward, and so as to make a nearer approximation to the truth than before—they most assuredly are not thrown back by it. The argument from prophecy does not obscure the argument from miracles; and as little does the moral or spiritual evidence which we are now attempting to unfold, obscure either the one or the other of these arguments. The validity of one species of reasoning does not depend on the validity of another species which is altogether distinct from it.
The more transcendental light of which we have just spoken, jeaves all the other and lesser lights precisely
where it found them. They discharge the same function as heretofore. The pleadings of the very authors on the deistical controversy, whom we have quoted remain as good as ever ; ant. ii re re me admitted by them into the gates si se mnr: temple, they one and all of them tzvt I 02 strengthened the bulwarks of the farth..
19. But moreover. What ougut te abait tim formidableness of this evidence (regarder di then. as if it were a secret of free-masonr: ang onr 1: the initiated) and make it les repuisist Hitle" eyes, is, that, however lofty and remote iruni etery present view and vision of theire, there 2 ini. of patent and practicable step by www. ur all others might be led to that percei. There is one most obviou- prum.*** mysticism, and which the; v. 1:...... once convinced on ratioua. Pri the Bible being indeed a lotzen heaven, it is their urger har read that Bible; o ale satisfied with time explore with al the book. elementary admit, zur howetz ?:L: spiritsa ther
en Lar: a culpa,
ܗܚܞC:ntuttur ܝܪܝܪ ܂ܙ1
scrupulous an avoidance of all which it tells them to
Thus far they walk on a plain path; and there is but one suggestion more, which, if theirs be indeed an honest respect for the authority of scripture (as sufficiently vindicated to their apprehension on the ground of its argumentative and literary evidence alone) they will not shrink fromand that is, the obligation as well as the efficacy of prayer, and of prayer for other and higher manifestations of the truth than they have yet been permitted to enjoy. They surely do not imagine such to be the fulness and perfection of their knowledge, that there is no room in their minds for any further enlargement or further illumination. Let us then suppose them to have actually entered on this process—a most careful perusal of His word-a most careful and conscientious doing of His will as far as is known to them--and withal, most earnest prayer for the visitation of that light which they have not yet reached, but now most honestly aspire after. We think that the truth of scripture may be perilled on the result of such an enterprise ; and that, because its own declarations will either be verified or disproved by it. For here are men willing to do the will of God; let us see whether they will not be made to know of Christ's doctrine that it is of God. Here are men keeping the sayings of the Saviour; let us see whether He will not manifest himself to them in such a way as He doeth not unto the world.t Here are men making a conscientious use of the light they have ;
John vii. 17.
† John xiv. 21.
and let us see whether in their history there will not be the fulfilment of the saying, that to him who hath more shall be given. Here are men giving earnest heed to the word; let us see whether the promise will not be accomplished, that the day shall dawn and the day-star arise in their hearts.f Here are men seeking intently, and with all earnestness seeking; let us see whether or not the declaration of the Saviour will come to pass, he that seeketh findeth. Here are men, while in the busy and anxious pursuit of that truth which is unto salvation, conforming their walk as far as in them lies to all the lessons of piety and righteousness; let us see whether the glorious assurance will not be realized, that to him who ordereth his conversa. tion aright I will show my salvation. Such seems then to be the economy of the Gospel. It has an incipient day of small things,|| which, if not despised but prosecuted aright, will terminate in a day of large and lofty manifestations. It takes its outset from the plainest biddings of conscience. It has its consummation in the things of the Spirit of God, which the natural man cannot receive, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. It begins with that which all may apprehend, and all may act upon.
It ends with that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive; but which God reveals by His Spirit even by the Holy Ghost given to those who obey him.T He is quenched, He is grieved, He is resisted by our despite of Him and of His suggestions—or, which is every way tantamount to this, the despite and disobedience done by us to the suggestions of our own conscience. Were we faithful to the lesser light, the larger would at length shine upon us. Did we hunger and thirst after these higher revelations of the Gospel, then their glory and their fulness would at length be ours. This is the constitution of things. There is a connexion established between disobedience and spiritual desertion—" he who hateth his brother is in darkness."* And there is a connexion between obedience and spiritual discernment“the path of the upright is like the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”+ The every-day virtues of the Gospel form the steps of that ladder, by which we ascend to the mystic glory of its full and finished revelations. The moral is the conductor to the spiritual. Conscientiousness in practice leads to clearness in theology. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him."! “He meeteth him that worketh righteousness." S " Is not this the fast that I have chosen ? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke ? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall
* Matt. xxv. 29. + 2 Pet. i. 19. Matt. vii. 8. $ Psalm l. 23.
| Zechariah iv. 10. & 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10.