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ing; they communicate with each other, they embrace each other, they rejoice in each other, they dwell in each other, they travel in company over spiritual and intellectual worlds by this airy vehicle of words. Oh, what a glorious invention is this of words! It makes the soul visible, tangible, impressible; enabling it to dwell in many places at once over the habitable earth; it preserveth the soul upon the earth long after the body is dead in the grave; yea, it breaketh the bond of death, and toucheth the clayey lips of the deceased with their wonted fires. We converse with them, we liye with them, we call them from their spheres; they comes they tarry, not till the dawn of morning, or the crowing of morning's messenger, like the spirit of superstition, but they stay with us days and nights and for ever; and we can gather a general assembly of departed worthies, we can have them in our closets, they will instruct us, they will exhort us, they will make us merry; they will make us great and good, and teach us to fulfil the same good and noble offices to those who follow after us.
Such, even, such is the word of God, a link between the soul of man and the soul of God, a stage whereon heaven meeteth with earth, to bless her needy children. The spirit of man there communeth and consorteth with the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God hath also taken the artificial body of words, and putteth forth his feelings to call forth the feelings of man; and the feelings of man come forth to the embodied feelings of the Spirit of God, even as they come forth to the embodied feelings of the spirit of man, because they are embodied after the same fashion and with equal favour. And so it cometh to pass, that communion with the Holy Ghost is engendered, and then the airy vehicle of words is nothing; but if the communion faileth, it must be resorted to again, as the only instrument given by heaven unto men for that sanctifying office.
If ever this recollection goeth out of the mind, that the Word is but the voice of the Spirit, and the instrument of holding intercourse between two spirits, the soul of man and the Spirit of God; if the Spirit of God be not be held through the transparent screen, exhibiting his various affections towards us; if the screen alone be looked upon, its beauty, its structure, its richness, its usefulness; then evils accrue which I will open up as briefly as I can.
This I have found, from experience, that when I perused the word of God without putting it into the mouth of the Spirit of God, and communing with him through that ave
nue, I have grown in theoretical knowledge of theology and spiritual life, without feeling any thing of its power; my head engaged, my intellect and taste gratified, my heart not humbled, not convinced, not warmed with divine love. And though I knew it to be all the gift of God, I have grown insensible to the giver, and made his written word another field on which to build idolatry of myself, and carry discomfiture upon the weakness and wickedness of others. For, look abroad, and consider the proneness of man to forget his Maker, however enriched and surrounded by his Maker's gifts, to take the glory to himself, and to use all the blessings of God as the ladder upon which to elevatę his own ambitious consequence: For example, how nature becomes the god of the man who turns her into poetry, exhibits her in painting, or rears his tasteful dwelling among her choicest scenes; he sighs over her, and devoutly beholds her, and lauds her with an exalted song, and “takes his fill from his mother's bosom,' as the profane poet says.
Witness again, a man who sets his heart upon the bounties of Providence, and stores his house with the first essence of all things, until it is a very cabinet of rarest and most precious articles; a man whose feast is chosen from a thousand quarters of nature and art, whose wines are well selected and long stored, and his furniture of the finest imagining, and most costly material. This ample possessor becomes an adorer of these goods of Providence, as the other was an adorer of the face of creation; hath generally as little sense of God, whose favourite child he is, and whose best tokens of kindness he hath around him; is as thankless and hardened in heart towards the God of all providence, as the sentimental admirer and painter of Nature is dead to the God who hath dressed Nature in all her lovely charms. Even so, by virtue of this same adoration of the handiwork, and neglect of the great Artificer, would mankind, if God had fixed the rewards of religion in the diligent perusal of the Bible, if he had isolated religious enjoyment from himself, and fixed it on any work as the enjoyment of Providence and Nature, have become isolated by the fall,-Even so would mankind have made the Bible a third region of idolatry and self-applause. They would have searched it, I doubt not, and drawn out of it the enjoyment it contained; and many would have trodden its path of improvement, though thorny, as they have trodden the thorny path of science, and the venturous path of lofty poesy; yea, many would have dug the soul out of the little treatise, and trans
fused into their breast all the nobility which it could give; and, in doing so, have travelled further and further from the God of the Bible, and in his stead, made a god of the Bible, which wrought in them such distinction, or a god of their distinguished selves, just as they have made a God of Nature's beauty, and of Providence's fulness.
Now, as the Bible is not intended to be a third region of atheism, like as nature and providence by the lapse of this world have become, but is intended to counterwork the alienating influence of these from God, and to generate the closest communion between the Creator and the creature; therefore God hath not made the Scriptures final and allpowerful of themselves, to work any of the graces of the renewed man, but hath required to be conjoined therewith an apprehension of his Spirit's nature, which speaketh through the Scriptures, and a junction of fellow feeling with the Spirit which speaketh. Could the Bible, being kept apart from the Spirit, work one grace, then the credit of that grace were forth with given to the Bible, as the credit of begetting taste and enjoyments in us is given to nature and the productions of nature; during all the time we were in attaining the grace, we should reinove our attention from God to the thing which he had stamped with the power of conferring it: and if so of one grace, so of every other. And thus the Christian through the Word, should have been completed after the same atheistical process, as the poetical or imaginative man is completed by rendering his worship to nature, and the sensual man by rendering his worship to the goods of providence.
It seems strange thus to speak of the Christian being completed by an atheistical process, seeing to be a Christian means to be in close fellowship with God. But I am speak. ing of a supposed condition of things, different from the ex. isting one, that the Bible held within itself the virtue, when properly used, to renew the soul in the Christian image. In that case, I reason, we should take on the alteration, and give the glory to that which had the power of producing it. We might occasionally remember the Author of the book with feelings of admiration and gratitude, but we would hang the great credit upon ourselves for possessing and improving by such a work. A mathematician gives little of his acquirements to Euclid or Newton, his teachers, but takes it to himself, and by reflection from himself idolizes the science in the abstract, by which he stands distinguished. Now just as the mathematician glories in mathematics,
and upholds the works of mathematicians, but thinks not of the God who established these mathematical relations in the world, and made the mind of man capable to perceive and communicate the same; so if religion, by the study of a volume or volumes, could be wrought in the soul, those who had taken pains to have it wrought in themselves, would adore religion in the abstract, and the book which taught it, all forgetful, as the man of science, of God who dictated the book, and formed the soul to profit by its means.
It is man's nature to forget God, however much God may do for him; to adore creation, and not the Creator; to adore the fulness of the earth, not God, who maketh her horn to bud forth pleasantly; and even so if the word of God were enriching us with spiritual graces, we were apt to forget him who gave it, and adore the gift which he had given, and compliment ourselves for possessing and improving it. To prevent such an abstraction of the soul from himself, God hath revealed, that whatever fruits of righteousness his word produceth are due to his Spirit, and that the glory of them should be rendered unto his grace.
This is a revelation of God, not discoverable by human consciousness, and therefore it is apt to be rejected. Men are not conscious of a Divine influence resident within the temple of their soul. They feel no will but their own will, no strength but their own strength. A few Christians do profess an internal commotion, and exhibit an external agony or triumph. But this, even though granted to be genuine, is only at the first stage of their spiritual life, which goes on thereafter without any foreign influence perceptible to themselves. So that all which we are conscious of is the presence of the words and truths of revelation, dwelt upon frequently, believed on implicitly, remembered seasonably, and obeyed in the face of our pleasure, our ease, and our interest. The influence of the Word, therefore, is the thing which we feel and are conscious of; the influence of the Spirit is the thing which we are not conscious of, but which we are yet desired to believe.
But because it is not known to us by our intimate perceptions, we ought not the less to account it worthy of belief. Heaven is not seen by us, nor the pit of Hell disclosed before us, yet the one enters into our hopes, the other into our fears. God is not visible to us, nor his presence sensible around us, yet do we believe that in him we live and move and have our being. Christ's dwelling-place none of us hath known, nor his voice have we heard, yet at this moment we
believe he intercedes for us at the right hand of power. Angelic messengers we believe in, though we cannot behold them cleaving the air in the discharge of their celestial heraldry. The devil's roving commission against the sons of men we believe, and his frequent success against ourselves we believe likewise, though of his voice, enticing to evil, we - were never conscious.
If you give up the doctrine of the Spirit's influence upon the heart because you perceive it not, I see not but that you should give up the doctrine of Jesus Christ's being the Son of God, which rests upon no foundation of sense or feeling, but upon revelation alone. The doctrine, likewise, that God is reconciled to men by the death of his Son, which no man believes from having seen God smile upon him, or heard God speak him kind, but from having it revealed by the same blessed Personages who have likewise revealed that the Spirit helpeth our infirmities, and showeth the things of Christ unto our souls.
No one having the name of Christian, not even Unitari. ans themselves, who would steal the fire from off the altar of our heavenly temple, and leave it a cold unhallowed desolation; yet not even they refuse to acknowledge that God rules in the earth, raising up and pulling down; that he hath the times and seasons of human life in his hand, that he fecds our prosperity, makes our adversity bare; gives and takes away, and is to be acknowledged with reverence in all our lot. This presence of God, through providence, Christians of every name believe. Now, may I ask how they come by this belief. Have they seen God going to and fro upon the earth? have they seen his bared arm, or heard his uplifted voice? What evidence of sense have they, or evidence of internal feeling—for they do not feel a God touching their hearts with joy-or infusing the poison of sorrow. When the devil smites the four corners of their house, as he did Job's, or their camels, or their sheep and oxen, how come they to know that it is God who trieth them for their good, except by revelation early instilled into their minds, and therefore almost instinctively believed.
If, then, the truth of God's presence and presidency in our worldly affairs find for itself universal belief amongst Christians, though resting upon revelation alone, and having no foundation either in sight or perception; upon what plea will they reject the doctrine of the Spirit's presence and presidency in the great world of grace, if it be found reveal. ed with the same distinctness? There ought therefore to be