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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. 66 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
go before thee : the glory of the Lord shall be thy rere-ward."* “ If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon-day.”+
20. Now this should reconcile men to the alleged mystery of these higher communications, should soften or rather do away their offence and prejudice against it—when Christianity thus consents to be put upon its trial. However inconceivable or inaccessible the glories of its inner temple might be deemed, it is truly a plain and practicable avenue which leads to them. That is no uncertain sound which the trumpet giveth forth, when the Gospel makes its first intimations, and sets those who are obedient to its call on that progressive way, which leads to the discovery of things beyond the ken of nature, and which only a light from the upper sanctuary can make manifest to the soul. It is true that there are things revealed unto babes and hidden from the wise and the prudent; but this is because they want the docility of babes. They have not been initiated into the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, because they have not been converted and become as little children.f They do not sit to the book of revelation, as Newton did to the book of nature, with the modesty and teachableness of him who felt that he had all to learn. They have been alike unobservant of the wisdom of true philosophy, and the piety of true Christians; and so have renounced not their lofty imaginations, nor brought every thought of their hearts in captivity to the obedience of Scripture.* It is thus that their contempt for the higher mysteries of the Gospel, will be found to resolve itself into contempt for the plainest of its lessons. It tells them how to wait and work for spiritual illumination, yet they did not act—it tells them how to seek for it, yet they did not pray. They admit the authority of the book; but they refuse its sayings. It is because of its rational evidence, that they admit the authority; and it is because they refuse the sayings, that they remain contemptuous and ignorant of its spiritual evidence. They are strangers to that which is recondite, because, traversing even their own principles, they have not made a faithful use of that which is obvious. Theirs will be a palpable condemnation—that the clearest dictates of their own conscience, the clearest intimations of the word acknowledged by themselves to be divine, have been alike disregarded by them.
* Isaiah lviii. 6-8.
f Isaiah lviii. 10.
Matt. xviii. 3.
21. That evidence for Christianity which is seen in the light of the spirit, though called a mystical, is in truth a moral evidence. By all the Scripture testimonies which we have quoted, it is an illumination which begins and brightens onwards along the pathway of a moral obedience—advancing step by step from the lesser to the greater light, but through the conscientious use of the smaller being followed up, under the virtuous administration of the Gospel, by the larger manifestation. When
looked to in connexion with God who in every individual case originates the process, it may be regarded as the fruit of His grace and sovereignty. When looked to in connexion with man who undergoes the process, it may be regarded as the fruit of moral earnestness and prayer. Whether viewed in the history or in the results of it, it gives the impress of a thorough moral character to the economy under which we sit—that the fulfilment of duty should thus lead the way to the fuller comprehension of doctrine—or that by the desires and the labours of an honest aspiring conscientiousness, that channel is opened by which the light of heaven is let in upon the soul. The system under which knowledge is thus made to arise in the train of righteousness bespeaks the essential righteousness of its author, and is so far an evidence of its having come from the all-righteous God. But this evidence, grounded on the nature of the process which leads to the spiritual revelation, is distinct from the more latent evidence that lies in the things which are revealed—in the lineaments, now made obvious, of an authority and a sacredness and a wisdom and a truth which serve immediately to announce the Godhead to an awakened and illuminated reader of the Bible. And in the event itself of his being thus awakened, in the fact or the fulfilment that has taken place in the history of his mind, there is a third evidence -as distinct from the two former as the miraculous is from the moral evidence. The event viewed historically, or as an event, has in it indeed somewhat of the character of a miracle-but, to estimate fully its argumentative force, we must view it not merely in the light of a moral, but of an experimental evidence for the truth of Christianity.*
22. The spiritual evidence of Christianity does not supersede the use or the importance of its rational evidence-which discharges the same function in the revealed, that the incipient light in the minds of all men does in the natural theology. If the first suggestions of conscience respecting a God, lay us under the obligation of entertaining the topic and prolonging our regards to it—so the first evidence that we obtain for the Bible, as a message from God, lays us under the same obligation of pondering its contents, and of making honest and faithful application of them. A larger illumination in the one case as to the evidence for natural religion, and in the other as to the evidence for the religion of the Gospel, will be the fruit of both these exercises. It is not the historical or the literary evidence for the truth of the Bible which christianizes the philosophical inquirer. But it should lead him to read the Bible, and to go in quest of that evidence by which he is christianized. Neither those credentials of the book which gain the assent of the philosopher, nor that precognition of the book which is taken by the peasant, are able of themselves to work that faith which is unto salvation. They fall short of awakening such a conviction as this in the breast of either—but they form like imperative claims on the attention of both. And it is in the train of this
* See the next Chapter.