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ance, should not, together with his ready help by which only The seaman, till the anchor is cast, forsakes not the care of repentance is possible, be extended to every capable subject. his helm; the martyr, whose pardon was laid before him on That equal grace is given to all, both religion and experience the conditions of his apostasy, exhorted his persecutors, as alike deny ; but that any are altogether excluded from its in- they loved his soul, to remove from him that temptation. fluence, the observations which have been already made will, With both, the intensity of hope is allayed with an attendant apparently, forbid us to maintain. I can duly appreciate, and anxiety, lest by any fault of theirs they should perish in the I can sincerely honour that reverence for the power and purity very moment when all their toils were about to terminate. of God's Spirit, which has induced so many wise and holy To a wicked man the doctrine of predestination is too often men to limit its presence to those only who are finally tri- the cause of a dangerous and deadly downfall, because he is umphant over sin : but do we indeed diminish the value of glad to use it as an excuse for neglecting those interests which his gift or tarnish the brightness of his mercy, when we sup- he does not really regard. To a good man, if his reason be pose it, like the sun of our mental system, to dart its perva- sound, it can, probably, do little harm; and may, sometimes, ding blessedness from the midst of heaven on all who do not beyond a doubt, administer comfort under temptation, and wilfully shut their eyes against the day? Or shall we, who inspire him with a gratitude which is not less warm or pure have the privilege of approaching nearer to its beams, be in- because the hope on which it rests is founded on an erroneous different to our brightest prospect, because the ends of the opinion. earth are not immersed in total darkness; and because the But, neither the good man nor the sinner can be really aswitness of the Most High has not entirely forsaken those serted to believe in predestination, inasmuch as without hope tribes on whom the purer day-spring has not dawned ? enjoyment would be impossible, and without danger caution
From this universality, however, of grace, a second corol- superfluous. The great detector of sophistry, our natural lary arises; that grace, namely, may, so far as our personal apprehension, exclaims aloud against every attempt at selfsanctification is concerned, be resisted and rendered vain. deceit; and, if we value our lives or our souls, we dare not Were it otherwise, indeed, there could be no condemnation commit either the one or the other to the hazard of those at all, since no man is punished but for neglect of grace. principles which we stimulate our fancy to conceive, and But, if grace may be at first withstood, no reason can be torture our understanding to maintain. given why it should ever, in this life, become irresistible; or why we should not, till death, retain the fatal power of falling from our highest proficiency. It follows that the doctrine of assurance, as that doctrine, at least, is commonly expressed, is an opinion groundless and illusory; that though on our present state of acceptance with God our conscience is reason
LECTURE VII. ably said to bear us witness, yet is it impossible, without the gift of prophecy or the crime of presumption, to anticipate our I tell you the truth ; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I final perseverance in godliness; with that degree of confidence go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I dewhich many pious men profess to feel.
part, I will send him unto you.—John xvi. 7. It may be suspected indeed, (and well it is for them that such a case is possible,) that those excellent persons have not, That the name of Comforter here given to the Holy Ghost in reality, that unbounded assurance of final salvation to was given in anticipation of some peculiar and permanent which they, however sincerely, lay claim; and that they favour to be conferred by him on the orphan church of Christ, confound those feelings which arise from a high degree of it has been already my endeavour to prove. And I have shown, probability, with that stronger effect which is produced in the in like manner, that these essential characteristics of permasoul by the contemplation of what is absolutely certain. nence and peculiarity will evince that benefit, whatever it may
The circumstances are of very rare occurrence, in which be, to be something distinct both from the gifts of miracle and this certainty is possible to man; and the highest degree of prophecy, which were accorded to a single generation only faith will, perhaps, fall vastly short of it. But, though the of Christians; and from those more common aids and larger sense of probability is in its nature a conditional expecta- influences, whence not the Christian virtues only, but every tion, we may, doubtless, by inferring the future from the past, act and word and thought have issued, which hath thrown a exhilarate or depress the soul to a degree of joy or misery transitory gleam of light and beauty over that gloomy pros. very hardly to be distinguished in definition from that cer- pect which is offered to the mental view by the natural state tainty which belongs, it may be thought, to present objects of mankind. only.
For, as the comfort of God's Spirit was promised to Chris. In practice, however, and in their effects on the subsequenttians only, and as it was promised to the universal Church conduct, such feelings are easily distinguishable. What we of Christ in every age of 'ils duration, it is plain that such indeed regard as certain we are never found to strive against specific benefit could not consist in a bounty, however great, or to forward : but that confidence of which we only persuade in which Christians partake with some of those to whom the ourselves is by far too weak to hold out against the excite- name of Christ is unknown; and that we can with yet less ments of hope or terror. The merest fatalist, if life be dear ground of probability identify it with a privilege which was to him, will take care, notwithstanding his professed opin- confined to the Apostles and their immediate successors. ions, to guard his head in battle : the sturdiest predestina- We have still, then, to inquire after an instance of celesrian, when temptations arise, is truly and piously disquieted. tial bounty more accurately corresponding with the terms of
And, though the recollection of frequent victories over sin Christ's prediction. And such an instance it is not impossimay, doubtless, yield a well-grounded hope that we shall not ble to find, to which external aids and internal graces are be hereafter defeated; though the probability that we shall attendant only and incidental appendages; a bounty in the be supported to-morrow as we were yesterday and the day hopes and promises of which, the Christian alone, and Chrisbefore, may kindle in the good man a holy joy and gratitude, tians of every age and nation are partakers and proprietors, which, for the moment, casts out fear; yet that this trouble- and of which the privileges, as they were purchased by the some but necessary guest must, nevertheless, ere long return, sinless obedience and meritorious sufferings of the second is apparent from the circumstance, that the good man does not Person in the Deity, so were they conferred on us in plenary fail to continue those precautions which the apprehension of enjoyment, by the advent and inspiration of the Third in that danger alone can dictate.
mysterious essence. There is an awful difference between the absence of doubt That the Son of God is the object, yet more than the teacher and the sensation of perfect confidence. That we shall sleep of the Christian faith; that he did not bear testimony of to-night as safely as we slept the night before, there is none himself," and that he left to the subsequent doctrine and illuof us, perhaps, who questions; and, if we think on the sub-mination of the Paraclete to record and explain those awful ject at all, we rejoice in our sense of that merciful protection, dispensations whereby he triumphed over death and hell, is without which the watchman waketh but in vain. Yet do evident from that ignorance which, till the advent of the Holy we none of us neglect to secure our doors against assault, Ghost, the chosen followers of our Lord displayed as to the which, if assault were impossible, would, surely, be a futile nature of their Master's kingdom. An ignorance it was introuble. The mariner in sight of his desired haven is as glad deed, so total, and to us so extraordinary, that the greater as if his voyage were already concluded : and the saint be- number of commentators have been rashly induced to ascribe side his funeral pile may exult with reason that a crown is it to a degree of national prejudice or natural incapacity in laid up for him for evermore. But neither the one nor the those whom Christ selected to instruct the world, which, as other is so sure of his safety, as to confound what is only ex- it would be beyond all bounds of probability, so is it altotremely probable with what is absolutely decreed by heaven. gether needless to enhance the wonder of the fact, that the world has been, by their means, converted. Enough there was amply sufficient to entitle that blessed Person to the is of miracle to confound the wisdom of the wise, and to name of Paraclete. Nor do the effects which this dispensaestablish the celestial origin of our religion, in the event stion produced on the world at large, less strikingly answer which all parties allow, that the fabric of Paganism was to those other features wliereby the Paraclete was to be disoverturned by a few Galilean peasants, without the further tinguished as a Patron to the Christian cause, and a Defensupposition, that these instruments of God's will were less der of the Son of Man against the slanders of his hostile favoured in intellect or acuteness than others of their rank countrymen. The Spirit of God, in his character of Paraand nation. Nor must we forget that, by how much the clete, was to testify, it will be remembered, of the innocence more we underrate the extent of their intelligence, by so and inspiration of the Messiah: he was to convict the world much do we decrease the weight, which, even in facts most of the guilt which they had incurred in rejecting him; he was obvious to their eyes and ears, we can reasonably assign to to vindicate at once the character of Jesus from the charges their testimony.
of imposture or enthusiasm, and the name of God from the In truth, however, I can discover no single passage in suspicion of injustice and cruelty. His appointed function it Scripture from which we may infer that they had either was to reconcile the righteousness of the Deity with those stronger prejudices against the truth, or less of natural ca- awful dispensations which had lately doomed the innocent to pacity, or greater ignorance of the sacred writings of the death, and to make the dignity of the Messiah consistent ancient covenant, than even the wisest members of the San- with the sufferings of a houseless wanderer in the kingdom of hedrim. At all events, the phenomenon to which I have al- bis ancestors, a crucified victim to the jealousy of the state, luded may be more reverently and as satisfactorily accounted beneath the walls of his own Jerusalem. for by the recollection of that fact which is implied in so Objections these, which, great as the miracles of Jesus many passages of the Gospel ; that the time, namely, was not doubtless were, those miracles could not entirely solve; much come at which the veil of mystery should be withdrawn from less could the exercise of power by which his followers were, the designs of God, and that the work of our redemption was after his exaltation to the throne of glory, enabled to bear witto be complete in all its parts, before it was exposed to the ness to his truth. Such powers were, indeed, a very suffipublic eye and to the curiosity and devotion of the universe. cient evidence that he was a Prophet sent by Jehovah. But
It is thus that the atonement for sin by the meritorious this was not enough to answer the purposes of the Apostles sacrifice of the Messiah, which is expressed, in the Epistles and of the truth; and it was required, moreover, to prove him of St. Paul and St. John, with a precision and a copiousness to be that particular Prophet and Saviour on whom the hope answerable to its vast importance, is conveyed, in the lan- of Israel depended; and not of Israel only, but of all the nations guage of our Saviour while on earth, by scattered hints and in the universal earth. ihrough the darkness of prophecy and parable. It is thus, And to such a claim two objections might be raised, which too, that though the supercession of the Mosaic law be, un- no miraculous powers on the part either of Christ or his doubtedly, deducible from the moment in which a new and Apostles could obviate, inasmuch as they arose from facts better covenant was established by our Lord's fulfilment of which could not be denied, and which, if unexplained, were that which was to pass away, yet the authoritative explanation absolutely inconsistent with the character of the Messiah of this mystery, (which, while Christ was yet on earth, his promised by God. And these circumstances were the lowlidisciples were unprepared to receive) can only be found in ness of his rank in life, and the manner in which he suffered the teaching of God's Spirit through the Apostles.
death. The Holy Ghost, then, as I have already had occasion to The first of these was inconsistent, as every Jew might observe, was the Hierophant of the Christian mysteries; the urge, with the character of a great deliverer ; since, whatever Dispenser of that universal pardon which the Son had pur- might have been his innocence and extraordinary powers ; chased with his blood; the Herald to mankind, by the means however dear he might have been to God, and however apof his Prophets and Apostles, of that better covenant of grace proved in his sight; nay, though he were allowed to have which should supersede, in after ages, the fleshly ordinances risen from the grave like Lazarus, and, like Enoch and Elias, of Sinai.
to have ascended to heaven; yet, neither during his public But that such a discovery was, to the followers of our life, nor after his alleged resurrection, had he, in fact, Lord, sufficient both of comfort and compensation for his de- any more than Enoch or Elias or Lazarus, accomplished any parture from the world, is apparent from the importance of visible deliverance, whether for the world at large, or for the the communication itself, no less than of the practical results chosen people of God. and illustrious hopes to which their eyes were thenceforward But, if he had wrought no deliverance, then was he no deopened. They no more looked forward with mistaken and liverer, and, if no Saviour, no Messiah. “How," say the painful anxiety to the restitution of a national greatness which Rabbins in that work to which they have prefixed the ostentheir countrymen were unfit alike to maintain or to enjoy. tatious title of Nizacchon or " the Victorious,”, “ How can No more did they contemplate their Master as the sovereign Jesus be called the Admirable Counsellor, whose designs of a great, indeed, but not an unbounded empire. They beheld even Judas rendered vain? How is he strong, who was subhim seated on the throne of Omnipotence itself, confining in dued by Death? How the eternal Father, who perished in his invincible grasp the keys of death and of hell; and wor- the midst of his days? How the Prince of Peace, whose life shipped by all the countless multitude of those whom his was spent in trouble ?" blood had ransomed from the grave. Themselves they found It was necessary, then, to prove that, by the agency of our released from a yoke which neither they nor their fathers Lord, some great salvation had in reality been affected ; and had been able to endure;” translated from the elementary this was proved by the promulgation of that covenant, wherebondage of ceremonies and sacrifices to the glorious liberty in, for the sake of the Son of man, and through the merits of of God; no longer servants but sons.
his obedience and sacrifice, the burden and curse of the Law The Gentile was not now excluded from the more perfect were removed, and forgiveness of sins accorded. His title knowledge and nearer favour of the common Parent of man- was thus established to the appropriate name of JESUS, kind: the Jew was no more the member of a small and un- because "he saved his people from their sins ;” and the most popular community, divided from the great family of earth formidable of those objections was removed, which could not by exclusive, and, in their effect at least, invidious privi- be obviated either by his blameless life, or by the acknowleges. The tabernacle of adoption, like the canopy of heaven, ledged greatness of his miracles. overshadowed all the children of Jehovah; and the nations of The objection which arose from the manner of his death the East and the West were gathered in peace together under was, doubtless, less considerable; yet was it to Jewish prethe wings of the Christian Dove.
judices a very material scandal; inasmuch as, though they Can any wonder that, by their admission to these glorious might be brought to acknowledge, on the authority of Daniel, prospects, the very temper of the Apostles' souls was changed ? that the Messiah was to be cut off,” and, from the testimony that they, thenceforth, no more shrunk back in terror from of Isaiah, that he was to be sent to prison and to judgment; the fulfilment of their arduous ministry, no more lamented yet that he should perish by a species of death which, we their departed Lord; no more shut their doors in selfish find it urged again with malignani triumph by the author of timidity from the notice or displeasure of their countrymen ? the Nizacchon, the Almighty had declared accursed, was a that they from that moment rejoiced under affliction, and glo- difficulty only to be solved by the knowledge of that mysterirified God that “they were counted worthy to suffer shame ous and awful dispensation whereby the innocent was made in the cause of Christ?”
a curse for the guilty. As a comfort, then, and compensation to the afflicted fol- It was thus that the revelation of the covenant of grace, lowers of Jesus, the discovery of that new and better cove- which was made through the Apostles to mankind, was both nant, which was revealed by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, needful and efficacious to lead them into truth, and to bring to their knowledge or remembrance those awful lessons which squence of the Paraclete's former visit, than a proof of his had been communicated under the veil of mystery or parable continuance among us, it is rather the legacy of a departed than during the Messiah's abode among men.
the counsel of a present guardian; and the Pilot who should Nor can a stronger objection he required against that which undertake to steer our vessel through the whole continuance is called the simplicity of the Unitarian system of theology, of her voyage, would ill discharge that promise if he de than that, by denying the Divinity of our Lord, as well as serted our helm in the middle passage, though he should those other awful iruths which supply the only competent leave at the same time, for our guidance, his chart and comanswer to the cavils of the unconverted Jew, it takes away pass behind him. all adequate motives for that tremendous apparatus of power But that this objection, however specious, is not unanswerand prophecy, by which the birth and life and death of Jesus able, will appear if we consider,-first,—that the promise of were distinguished.
our Lord, and the office of Paraclete which that promise deAs a teacher of morality he told us little which was really fines, though they are doubtless explicit as to the points of new. As a preacher of the resurrection he inculcated no universal and continual superintendance and protection-do by more than the great majority of his countrymen believed al- no means lead us to anticipate an unceasing display of vision, ready: and it is ditficult to say in what manner those under- or a perpetual and perceptible illapse of celestial knowledge. stand him to have abolished the Law of Moses, who refuse to It was foretold, indeed, that the Paraclete should abide with acknowledge, in his death, a sacrifice and propitiation for sin. u's always, but it was not expressed that the Holy Ghost
So far indeed from that simplicity, if real, being admissible should, in his capacity of Paraclete, be continually guiding as a proof of the truth of a religious system, it may be thought us into new truths-continually introducing us to a fresh that the credit of any pretended discovery of God's will or Apocalypse. The nature of his office implies that he should nature would, if it did not contain discoveries transcending be at hand to enlighten, to defend, and to console, where human reasori, be, on that very account, iinpaired and render such comfort or illumination were needed ;—but the teacher ed precarious. No ghost need rise, no angel come from may pause between the lessons which he gives to his popil
, heaven, to disclose to us those truths which we already knew,—the advocate when his plea is advanced may wait till he or those of which a competent knowledge might be acquired is called on for explanation,--the Comforter when he has by the natural process of induction or experiment. And dried our tears may sit silent and watchful for a while, till though that be an absurd refinement of the schoolmen who another relapse of grief demands fresh arguments to subdue advance a seeming impossibility as, in itself, a ground of it. But, as it will not be denied that, in the instance of faith; and though there be something still more preposter- the Apostles, the knowledge of God's will, which was superously unreasonable in the complaint of the author of Religio naturally communicated to them, was a sufficient and accurate Medici, that the Christian Religion had not enough of accomplishment of our Saviour's promise, --so may it be mystery; yet is it certain, that the garb and language of
proved, that, to the Apostles themselves this inspiration was Revelation evince her to be a stranger among men; and not a perpetual and unceasing gift,--and that the hypothesis that she demands and receives the more attention at our which maintains it to have been so, would conduct us to inhands, by bringing us such tidings as belong to nothing ferences no less at variance with the narratives of the Aposearthly.
tles themselves, than with the analogy which might be To return, however, from this short digression. The ad- expected between their endowments and those of the elder vent of the Paraclete was, inoreover, to instruct the followers Prophets, and with that natural and universal feeling which of Christ in the future fortunes of Christianity. “ He was forbids us to expect at God's hands an unnecessary miracle, to show them things to come.”
or that he should exempt his creatures, while on earth, from Now, it is unquestionable that, with the exception of his that weakness and peccability which is the common misforown predicted sufferings, and that of the overthrow of the tune of their kind, any further than is required by the discity and polity of the Jews, no single conspicuous instance pensation committed to their charge, and the accomplishment can be found in which, according to the popular acceptation of his will through them. of the term, our Lord assumed the prophetic character. Nor,
Accordingly, it may be observed that the Prophets of the of future events, and of that general course of Providence elder Covenant were only then acquainted with future transwhich shall precede and promote the final triumph of truth, actions, when they were under the immediate influence of is any knowledge possessed by the world, which has not the spirit by whom they were favoured ;—that bis illapses been communicated by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to took place at distinct and sometimes at distant periods; and his chosen servants the Apostles. The rise of Anti-Christ, that, in the intervals of such awful visitations, they were in which has now become a matter of history; his fall to which no respect distinguished from the weakness and ignorance of we still look forward in faithful hope: the terrific events their brethren. Nor is there any ground in Scripture for which are to occupy the latest scene of nature's drama ; and the manner in which nature herself is to be at length dis- supposing, with Michaelis
, that John or Peter were, in this
respect distinguished from Jeremiah or Isaiah or Elijah; or solved; as they are circumstances of which our knowledge that the ordinary power which our Lord assigned them of has been derived from the Paraclete only, so are they essen- officially deciding cases of conscience, or of making Jaws tial features in that system of belief and happiness and and administering justice in the community over which they duties which it was his office to impart to Christians. were placed, required in them any more than in other eccleEssential they are to our belief, which, unless prepared siastical governors, an inherent and permanent infallibility. beforehand by prophecy for the bitter trials of the church, Had this been the case, St. Peter would have been no less might faint and fail beneath the burden of our Master's an object of imitation when he dissembled with the Gentile cross; essential to our happiness, since, without such an converts in Antioch, than when he admitted Cornelius into assurance of the final triumph of truth, our condition would the bosom of the Christian Church; and St. Paul and St. be of all men most miserable; essential to our duties, inas- Barnabas must have been equally correct in their opposite much as they raise our hopes and apprehensions above the judgments on the conduct of Mark the Evangelist. But, in limits of a perishable world.
truth, there is sufficient evidence in the New Testament itIt may be said then, with truth, that by the single discovery self, that the discoveries of God's will which the Apostles of the Christian system of atonement and peace and pardon; received were limited and occasional, and the powers with by the revelation of the will, and the mercy, and the power, which they were entrusted were, for the most part, tempoand the future counsels of God in Jesus Christ, the promise rary only. The time is marked when Peter was enlightened of a Comforter, insomuch as the Apostles were concerned, by a vision as to the removal of the ancient barrier between was exactly and most mercifully accomplished. But the the Gentile and the Jew; and till Peter had himself commupromise, it has been already shown, was not to the Apostles nicated this knowledge to the remaining disciples, they were only, but to the Universal Church of Christ in every age of strangers, at least in this particular, to the counsel of their her duration. And as, since the time of the Apostles, no Heavenly Director. St. Paul's first mission to the Gentiles, fresh revelation of God's will has been made to the church; his call into Macedonia, and his knowledge of things in as no new prophet has arisen to instruct, no open vision to Paradise, were all the subjects of distinct revelations, nor console her, it may be objected with much plausibility that could he predict the escape of his companions from the the perpetual abiding of the Comforter with the Christian devouring ocean, till he had first received his information world has been in no wise accomplished by the gift of super- from the Angel of that God, whose he was and whom he natural light to one out of many generations. It is true that served.”_Nor should we omit to notice that the same St. we have still, in the volume of the Sacred Scriptures, the Paul, on more than one occasion, distinguishes his private results of that inspiration which the earliest teachers of our judgment from his divine instructions; and that the author faith enjoyed.—But this, it may be said, is rather a conse-lof the Apocalypse specifies a particular Lord's-Day, during which he was "in the Spirit.”—It is apparent, however, It was, then, through the medium only of a few inspired inthat a person continually and in every word and action in- dividuals that, in the earliest and golden age of Christianity, spired, could, correctly speaking, have no human judgment the Holy Ghost can be said to have guided or comforted that at all ; -and that in him who was always under the super-orphan Hock which was left to his care; and it appears from natural influence of the Holy Ghost, it would have been many very remarkable passages of the New Testament, that as absurd to specify any particular moment at which that the ordinary believers of the apostolic period were no more influence overshadowed him, as it would have been to say endued with miraculous powers, and no more inspired with that he was at such or such a time alive and in the body. supernatural knowledge than the faithful in any subsequent
It is proved, then, that the Divine assistance which the age. Were all apostles, were all Prophets, did all speak apostles enjoyed was an occasional assistance only, and that with tongues in the days of Paul ? Let Paul himself decide there were periods during which the miraculous voice of the the question! Nay more; it is apparent from the writings of Holy Ghost was silent within them.—But if there are peri- that great apostle, with what a holy jealousy, he vindicated ods, however short, during which a cessation of the gifts of to himself and to the rest of the Elders the peculiar privilege the Paraclete is acknowledged, without detriment to the of delivering to the Church those rules of faith and practice, Church or falsification of the Saviour's promise :—this con- which only were to be received on the authority of the Holy cession may be extended to any period which eternal wis- Ghost: and that neither man nor angel could pretend to the dom might think fit. Whether it be an hour, a day, a year, possession of a revelation independent of that which the aposa thousand years, no difference can be made in the truth ofiles proclaimed, without incurring the heaviest weight of Him to whom a thousand years and one day are both alike,— anathema. nor in the interest of the Church over which his unsleeping If, indeed, the Spirit of God had communicated an immecare presides, and which, when she needs his further teach-diate and supernatural assistance to all who once embraced ing, may rest secure in faith to find it. The promise of the the Christian Faith, it is apparent that the controversial Almighty to abide in his Jewish shrine, was as express as writings which the apostles left behind (and all their writhat in which the Christian Church receives the assurance of tings may be regarded as more or less controversial) would a similar inhabitation.-Yet some intervals there were in never have existed at all; that doubts would never have which there was a cessation of supernatural endowments arisen, where every individual was alike divinely inspired ; among the race of Israel, as total as that which we now de- and that no appeal would have lain to the superior authority plore.When Samuel was established as a seer, the word of of the Twelve, if the Churches of Rome or Corinth or Galatia the Lord had long been precious ;-between the appearance had inhaled, no less deeply than the apostles, the unspeakaof the different Prophets whose works are collected in our ble gift of God. canon, a considerable space of time must often have occurred. When inspiration, accordingly, was promised by Christ, And in four hundred years, from Malachi to John the Bap- and afforded by the Holy Ghost, in the earliest age of Christist,-we shall find no better pretences to inspiration than the tianity, to the collective and Catholic Church; it was not afdreams of the Maccabees, and the Bath-Col of Rabbinical forded, and doubtless therefore vot promised to the body, Fable. But if God still " dwelt in his temple,” though he otherwise than through the medium of some distinguished gave no preceptible tokens of his presence there,—if the members. And though John and Paul and Peter were, in Jews were not forsaken, though they saw “no prophet the first instance, guided and comforted by the Holy Ghost more," --shall we doubt that our Schekinah is with us still, himself, it was by Peter or Paul or John that such instructhough his voice be not heard in our assembly, or that he tion or consolation was dispensed to Apollos or Onesimus or may yet break silence should a case arise, in which the in- Philemon. terest of the faith require a new revelation.—But is God in- Nor can a dispensation of this kind be, with any degree of deed silent, when the sound of his words is brought to us justice, accused of inequality; nor are the inspired individevery Sabbath-day in the authentic records of our salvation ? uals more essentially favoured than those to whom their misOr do we hesitate to receive the 'comfort and counsels of sion is addressed, for whose sake and in order to whose inScripture as a daily and hourly blessing of the Holy Ghost, struction they are thus distinguished from the remainder of because we do not receive it from his immediate dictation ? mankind; and who, from them, receive a no less perfect Let us then recollect, in the second place, that, though the measure of knowledge than they have themselves derived promise be express that the Comforter should communicate from the visions or inspiration of God. By inspiration, it supernatural knowledge to the Church,—the manner of this will be recollected, in the scriptural sense of the word, neicommunication is nowhere limited to a supernatural process ther universal knowledge is implied, nor, even in religious only, and that if we continue to receive his dicta in all es- questions, universal infallibility. Of future events in gerisential points unaltered, --it can make no difference whether eral the Prophet had no more knowledge than the meanest we receive them at the first or thirtieth hand.
of his audience; of the nature or will of the Almighty, (ahThere are two ways, indeed, and only two, by which, so stracted from those particular facts which it was his especial far as our experience enables us to judge,-a revelation from commission to disclose,) the apostle might himself inquire in Heaven, or any other supernatural knowledge can be con- vain. The veil was never except in part withdrawn from veyed to the human understanding. The first is by an im- mortal eyes ; and, when the vision was described, and the pulse immediately communicated by God to the perceptions Gospel announced to the world, the world was as wise as its of the individual who is destined to be thus enlightened; the teachers. Those teachers were not the objects, but the transsecond, by the intervention of some other and more favoured mitting medium of God's favours: the prophetic office was person, who is empowered and commanded to employ, for not so much a privilege as a burden imposed : the whole the instruction of his brethren, that knowledge, which he has counsel of God, so far as it was freely communicated to himself received from God. But, of a revelation which them, they were freely to impart to their uninstructed brethshould be at once universal and immediate, no instance can ren: they were the heralds to the world of those gracious ofbe found in the history of our Maker's dealings with mankind, fers which unbounded mercy made to all, and of which they on the great majority of whom he has always imposed the themselves were partakers, if (which by no means necessacondition of being taught by others of their species. rily followed from the fact of their official privileges) they
Even in the case which approaches most nearly to that of really partook in the benefits of the Gospel, nut as apostles an universal and immediate revelation, the case, I mean, in or prophets or ministers of Heaven, but as men, as sinners which the Almighly promulgated with his own voice the de- and as penitents. calogue to the assembled nation of Israel, his auditors, it is The comfort, then, of the Holy Ghost, both might be and plain, were only a single generation out of the many who was afforded to the early ages of the church through the were equally the objects of the instruction thus afforded, and means of a comparatively trifling number of inspired individof whom all the succeeding streams were bound to receive uals. And, if a succession of such individuals had been the truth on the authority and from the testimony of their raised by God's providence in the several and successive fathers.
generations which have since elapsed in our Sion; if there And, in the particular instance of the Christian Revelation, had been a prophetic school in the Christian church, such as as the fact itself on which our faith is founded, the resurrec- is by most divines supposed to have existed in the church of tion, namely, of the Lord, was communicated not to all the Israel; or were that claim admitted to official infallibility people but to witnesses chosen of God; so were the doctrines which our fellow-Christians of the Romish persuasion have which depended on that fact revealed, in the first place, to not yet ceased to advance in favour of their universal bishop; certain selected teachers, on the credit of whose testimony we doubtless should nct hesitate to allow that by such a sucthe Universal Church was thenceforward to be guided and cession, the promise of our Saviour and the permanent resigoverned.
dence of the Holy Ghost with the church were satisfactorily
accomplished and exemplified; though we neither beheld (as his might and majesty ? Surely his name is among us some of the modern Jews pretend was the privilege of their and his law is gone forth among men: he sendeth his comFathers) the glory of the Almighty visibly present in our mandment on earth, and his word runneth very swiftly: by sanctuary; nor could reckon up with St. Paul, as incidents the sword which goeth forth from his mouth shall his enemies of frequent occurrence, that long and splendid list of miracu- be consumed before him; till all nations and people do him lous powers and graces for which the Corinthians so earnestly worthy reverence, and till the knowledge of Jehovah shall contended.
spread over the world as the waters cover the sea! Of miraculous gists, indeed, peculiarly so called ; of Nor does the case which has been urged of the pilot and tongues, of healing, of exorcism, of discerning spirits ; his chart bear any real analogy to the hypothesis which I am though they were unquestionably among the most conspicu- now supporting. It was, we may observe, through the meous and frequent triumphs of the early church of God, the dium of this chart itself, or the instructions which this chart present words of Christ say nothing. The grace which the contains, (by the doctrine, that is, of the Holy Ghost, as exComforter was to bring among men, corresponds with inspira- pressed in the teaching or writings of the Apostles), that, tion and inspiration only: it was a knowledge of God's will even in the golden age of Christianity, the great body of the and of God's future intentions in relation to his church, which faithful were directed and consoled, and it is preposterous to our Lord engages to send to us; and, where this is afforded, tax the pilot with a desertion of our interests in the middle we have no reason to complain that gifts are withdrawn, of voyage, while we enjoy whatever advantages he conferred on which, whether the cessation be foretold or no, the permanence first embarking.–The promise, let it be remembered, was not is nowhere promised.
that he should steer the vessel but that he should give us It appears, then, that the advent of the Paraclete and his knowledge to steer it for ourselves; and this knowledge is abode among men would be, during any period of Christian now and has been always afforded in those Scriptures which history, sufficiently evinced by the existence of one or more he daily offers to our attention. Those who apprehend that inspired individuals, whose authority should govern, whose the Comforter is fled from the church forget apparently by lights should guide, whose promises should console their less whose care the Sacred Volume has been preserved to our distinguished brethren; and by whom and in whom, as the time, entire and, in all essential points, uncorrupted ;-by agents and organs of his will, the Holy Ghost should be whose providential guidance all circumstances have been recognized as, in the absence of Christ, the governor and made to work together to give certainty and notoriety to his guardian of the church universal. But, if this be conceded, it oracles,—and by whom we ourselves have been conducted to will signify but very little, or (to speak more boldly, perhaps, the fountain of life,—and the mirror of God's will held up to but not less accurately) it will be a circumstance altogether our imitation and gratitude. And, while the providence of insignificant, whether the instruction afforded be oral or epis- the Holy Ghost secures to every member of Christ's church, tolary; whether the government be carried on by the author- the power of understanding mysteries which the prophets and ity of a present lawgiver, or through the medium of rescripts kings of elder times have vainly desired to see, and which, bearing his seal, and, no less than his personal mandates, till thus revealed, surpassed the intellect of angels, it is idle compulsory on the obedience of the faithful. In every go- or worse than idle to deny that God is with us, because he vernment, whether human or divine, the amanuensis of a works through secondary causes. Though in this dark and sovereign is an agent of his will no less ordinary and effectual dangerous voyage, the lamp of our beacon be only visible, than his herald; and St. Paul both might and did lay claim and not the gracious hand which lighted first and now susto an equal deference, when, in the name and on the behalf tains it,-yet may the eye of faith behold our guide standing of that Spirit by whom he was actuated, he censured by his on the battlements of heaven, directing the beams of comfort letters the incestuous Corinthian, as if he had, when present, where they may best illustrate our course, and watching with and by word of mouth, pronounced the same ecclesiastical a parent's love our progress over the stormy waters.—Shame sentence.
on that blindness of soul which can look on the lights of the It follows that the Holy Ghost as accurately fulfilled the material firmament without blessing him who placed them engagement of Christ as the Patron and Governor of Chris- and supports them there;—which can enjoy the Scriptures of tians, by the writings of the inspired person, when absent, as the New Testament without thankfully acknowledging who by his actual presence and preaching. And, if St. Paul, hav- he is that, by them, makes us wise unto salvation ? ing once, by divine authority, set in order the Asiatic and Nor can we be taxed with inconsistency if, having before Grecian churches, had departed for Spain or Britain or some denied that the general care of Providence over the Church other country at so great a distance as to render all subse- was that blessing which the Comforter was to bestow,-we quent communication impossible; yet still, so long as the now insist that he has perpetuated that blessing by this very instructions left behind sufficed for the wants and interests of Providence directed to a particular end. The scent of the the community, that community would not have ceased to be rose and the tone of the lyre are wasted to us by the same guided and governed by the Holy Ghost through the writings circumambient air, but it is the distinctive circumstance and of his chosen servant.
not the common vehicle which we mean to signify by the But that authority which we allow to the writings of an words “fragrance” or “ melody.” And, by whatever concurabsent Apostle, we cannot without offending against every rence of events the Spirit of God has placed the volume of analogy of reason and custom, deny to those which a deceased his will in our hands, it is by the operation itself and not the Apostle has left behind him. For the authority of such writ-" modus operandi,” that he fulfils his office of Paraclete. ings, I need hardly observe, is of an official, and not of a In a larger sense, indeed, and, as pervaded by the influence personal nature. It does not consist in their having emanated of the Revelation of God's mercy and the Messiah's triumfrom Peter or James or John abstractedly considered, (in phant suffering, those rites of our religion which were already which case the authority of any one of !hem might, undoubt- instituted before the day of Pentecost, and those common edly, terminate with his life), but their authority is founded dispensations of the Spirit's mercy and power which we in that faith which receives these persons as accredited agents share with other ages and nations ; have all of them received of the Almighty. We reverence their communications as the through this his advent, the splendour of reflected truth, and latest edicts of the Paraclete; and we believe all further com- have gladdened the heart of the Christian with more than their munications to have ceased for a time; not because these emi-original blessedness. The Rabbinical teacher of righteousnent servants of God have long since gone to their reward, for ness has become an Evangelist of Peace and Pardon. The it were as easy for the Holy Spirit to raise up other prophets Jewish rites of initiation and thanksgiving have expanded in their room, as it was originally to qualify them for that into symbols of celestial power and tropies of the Redeemer's high office; not because we apprehend that the good Spirit is victory. The course of political events has been sanetified become indifferent to the welfare of the church, for this would by prophecy into an evidence of God's truth and wisdom. be in utter contradiction to the gracious assurance of our Sa- The light of grace which could only discover to the Gentile viour: but because sufficient light has been already afforded or the Jew the more awful attributes of their Maker's parity for the government of our hopes and tempers; and because and justice,—now flings its steady lustre on redemption no subsequent question has occurred for which the Scriptures bought for us, and merits imputed to us, and everlasting hapalready given had not already and sufficiently provided piness promised to us,-and the same Spirit who was to the
But, are we free from the authority of an earthly Lord be-saints of older time a guardian and sanctifier, is, to the happy cause his orders are not daily repeated ? or hath the Lord follower of Christ, a Comforter. Omnipotent ceased to reign among men, because he doth not, But all these dispensations of the wisdom and night and with the frivolous inconsistency of an eastern despot, contin- grace of the Most High, derive their power of teaching and ually reverse his own decrees; or delight, as if afraid of being consoling us from a reference to Scripture only. By themforgotten, to terrify his subjects with incessant displays of selves they lead us into no truth ;-by themselves they tell