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No, it is not knowledge of duty that we need, but the illumining, quickening, energizing power of the Holy Ghost. Before His presence and power, coldness, indifference, doubt, scepticism, materialistic speculation, will flee away as the mists of the morning ; the truths lodged in the minds of men will become vital forces, no longer inert conceptions of the intellect, but the germinal powers of a new spiritual life. Oh, for the living spirit in the wheels! Oh, for the quickening energy of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of believers ; giving vividness and reality to eternal things ; making them realize that they belong to Christ, and not to themselves or the world ; that their time, influence, money, are held for use in His cause, and not for the selfish enjoyment of themselves and families. How then would devoted men and women press forward for the privilege of making Christ known in mission fields ; how would prevailing prayer go up for the descent of the Spirit on every church and community at home, and on every mission station round the globe, and pentecostal seasons be witnessed in every land, to the glory of redeeming grace!
The vast preparation has been made; a wide-spread feeling of expectation prevails of great spiritual changes near at hand ; that the set time is comewaiting, perhaps, for the earnest, united cry of the people of God-for the fulfilment of the promise, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” Let the earnest prayer of faith lay hold of the promises of God, and plead with Him till He pour us out a blessing such that there shall not be room to receive it. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” Is it not time for us to believe this, and humbly, trustfully to act
N. G. CLARK.
power from on High. The mission of the Church, to disciple all nations, as recorded by Matthew and Luke, was given by Christ to the whole Church, and every member of the Church is under obligation to make it his life work to convert the world. This raises two inquiries :-1. What do we need to secure success in this great work? 2. How can we get it?
Answer. I. We need the enduement of power from on high. Christ had previously informed the disciples that without Him they could do nothing. When He gave them the commission to convert the world He added, “Behold I send the promise of my Father upon you ; but tarry ye in Jerusalem till ye be endued with power from on high. Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." This baptism of the Holy Ghost, this thing promised by the Father, this enduement of power from on high, Christ has expressly informed us is the indispensable condition of performing the work which He has set before us.
II. How shall we get it? 1. Christ expressly promised it to the whole Church, and to every individual whose duty it is to labour for the conversion of the world. He admonished the first disciples not to undertake the work until they had received this enduement of power from on high. But the promise and the admonition apply equally to all Christians of every age and nation. No one has, at any time, any right to expect success, unless he first secures this enduement of power from on high. The example of the first disciples teaches us how to secure this enduement. They first consecrated themselves to this work, and continued in prayer and supplication until the Holy Ghost fell upon them, on the day of Pentecost, and they received the promised enduement. This, then, is the way to get it.
Consider the assertion of Christ, that the Father is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than we are to give good gifts to our children.
1. This text informs us that it is infinitely easy to obtain the Holy Spirit, or this enduement of power from the Father.
2. That this is to be made a constant subject of prayer. Everybody prays for this, at all times, and yet, with all this intercession, how few, comparatively, are really endued with this Spirit of power. This want is not met. The want of power is a subject of constant complaint. Christ says: “Everyone that asketh, receiveth,” but there certainly is a “great gulf” between the asking and receiving, that is a great stumblingblock to many. How, then, is this discrepancy to be explained ? We are not willing, upon the whole, to have what we desire and ask. God has expressly informed us, that if we regard iniquity in our hearts He will not hear us.
But the petitioner is often self-indulgent. This is iniquity, and God will not hear him. He is uncharitable, censorious, self-dependent, resists conviction of sin, refuses to confess to all the parties concerned, refuses to make restitution to the injured; he is prejudiced and uncandid ; he is resentful ; has a revengeful spirit; has a worldly ambition ; he has committed himself on some point, and become dishonest, and neglects and rejects further light; he is denominationally selfish ; selfish for his own congregation; he resists the teachings of the Holy Spirit; he grieves the Holy Spirit by dissension ; he quenches the Spirit by persistence in justifying wrong ; he grieves Him by a want of watchfulness; he resists Him by indulging evil tempers ; also, by dishonesties in business ; also, by indolence and impatience in waiting upon the Lord ; by many forms of selfishness; by negligence in business, in study, in prayer ; by undertaking too much business, too much study, and too little prayer ; by a want of entire consecration ; last and greatest, by unbelief. He prays for this enduement without expecting to receive it. “He that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar.” This, then, is the greatest sin of all. What an insult, what a blasphemy, to accuse God of lying !
These and other forms of indulged sin explain why so little is received, while so much is asked. Some of you perhaps inquire, “What is the other side ?” The other side presents the certainty that we shall receive the promised enduement of power from on high, and be successful in winning souls, if we ask, and fulfil the plainly revealed conditions of prevailing prayer. But beware of misapprehension here. If we first get rid of all these forms of sin, which prevent our receiving this enduement, have we not already obtained the blessing? What more do we need ?
Answer. There is a great difference between the peace and the power of
the Holy Spirit in the soul. The disciples were Christians before the day of Pentecost, and, as such, had a measure of the Holy Spirit. They must have had the peace of sins forgiven, and of a justified state, but yet they had not the enduement of power necessary to the accomplishment of the work assigned them. They had the peace which Christ had given them, but not the power which He had promised. This may be true of all Christians, and here is, I think, the great mistake of the Church, and of the ministry. They rest in conversion, and do not seek until they obtain this enduement of power from on high. Hence so many professors have no power with either God or man. They prevail with neither. They cling to a hope in Christ, and even enter the ministry, overlooking the admonition to wait until they are endued with power from on high. But, let any one bring all the tithes and offerings into God's treasury, let him lay all upon the altar, and prove God herewith, and he shall find that God "will open the windows of heaven, and pour him out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
C. G. FIXNEY.
Necessity of Assurance.
Can it be right for me to go
On this dark, uncertain way?
Whether my sins are put away?
Until I meet Him in the air ?
Until I wake and find me there?
Until I dwell with saints in light ?
Because I cannot walk by sight?
“Father, Thine every word is true,"
When all the world will own it too?
Is this the way to treat the God
Who bids me love and trust Him now?
Given to guide me here below ?
On the rich power of Jesu's blood,
That it has sealed my peace with God ?
How can I be like Christ below !
How like my Lord in virtues shine !-
His Father and His God as mine,
These needless, shameful doubts remove-
(Luke xvii. 5; 1 John v. 13).
Scientific Impartiality. INDIFFERENCE, it is maintained, is the state of mind most favourable to the discovery of truth. There never was an assertion more false. It is a lie, whether as regards the fact of such indifference or the effect claimed for it. In the first place, no rational mind can be in such a state. It cannot seek without some idea of what it is seeking; it cannot be utterly unconcerned as to what may be the end of such search. In this sense the cry of “ truth for its own sake " is as false as it is irrational. We may say this even in respect to truth as purely abstract, or regarded as having no moral interest. A man cannot be indifferent even in mathematical inquiries. There is an emotional bias as the mind follows the direction of an algebraic calculus. There are different kinds of truth, as well as different kinds of happiness; their value and their rank in each case, whether as happiness or knowledge, being dependent on their co-relation with something higher than all regarded as the great aim of rational life and rational thought.
It is, however, in respect to moral or religious truth that this position of indifference becomes especially monstrous and absurd. The same may be said in regard to the bare history of questions belonging to those departments. Some have pretended to write church history from such a perfectly neutral standpoint. In this they deceive themselves and their readers. Their works invariably verify the declaration of our Saviour : " He that is not for Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” How signally is this shown in the case of Gibbon! There is no mistaking the feeling of deadly hostility that everywhere lurks under the mask of impartial investigation. A can cannot be indifferent to Christianity. When it fairly presents itself to him, he must either fight it or submit. In all inquiries respecting it we must choose between the one interest or the other-between the love that may veil apparent defects of representation or the hatred that blinds to the most manifest glories.
And so in regard to theological truth in general-indifference is a lie. A cool impartiality in respect to the awful problems involved in such an existence as ours ! The very affectation of philosophic indifference here is evidence of deep and inveterate enmity to any view which would magnify its glory or its peril. A serious, troubled scepticism is entitled to our deepest-sympathy. Better pain and darkness than a blank light that shows us only nothingness as the end of our perturbed being, brief
indeed, yet sorely tried, and tried in vain, if there be not something in man above the forces of Nature. The lowest superstition becomes rational in such a contrast with the false assumption against which we are contending.
In the Popular Science Monthly, Mr. Herbert Spencer has lately given us his views of what he calls the “theological bias.” Did it not occur to him that there may be such a thing as an anti-theological bias, as strong as any that ever influenced the devotee-a bias equally bigoted, yet far more irrational ? Ho sometimes seems to admit that there may be a slight degree of this counter-feeling. He himself may affect to be free from it; but no really candid and intelligent man can read his various works, 80 pervaded everywhere with the denial or ignoring of the spiritual, without feeling that there is no indifference there, no impartiality. Nothing but a most decided bias of hostility could account for such an aspect toward all that is most serious in human destiny.
Has the silence of Nature ever been broken? Has there been a revelation from the infinite to the finite mind, though made in the form of the finite and, therefore, necessarily anthropomorphic ? Is there a medium, a mediator between God and man? Has one called the “Son of God truly come in the flesh ?" Is there for man a most glorious and sublime, and, therefore, a most fearful destiny, involving and evolving " the power of an endless life?" According to Mr. Spencer, a mind utterly indifferent to questions like these is in the best condition for reasoning about them or against them. He occupies a better standpoint for such a purpose than one who has been led to their study from a feeling of their immeasurable importance, and of the utter darkness, the absolute nothingness of all other truth, so-called, whether physical or anthropological, when these are wholly ignored. The wonder is, how can the human mind keep out such questions or fail to connect them with everything that is called science? Whence came we? Whither go we? Who are we? Why are we here? Is there something higher than ourselves in the universe ? Not a power merely, or a force, according to that notable discovery of Mr. Spencer, for which religionists ought to feel so grateful; not a skill merely, blindly working on in endless physical adaptations ; not impersonal Intelligence, unconscious, unknowing, unknowable in any conceivable relation to humanity; but the ever living God, most distinctly personal in the sense of a being with whom we can hold communion, and which alone gives this much-controverted word its great moral value. Can we use the personal pronoun in relation to Him, as one who most surely knows us, knows us as we are, in our own finite personality? Is there, indeed, one in the heavens, or above the heavens, to whom we can say, Thou" Thou art—thou art the rewarder of those that seek thee ;" “ from everlasting even unto everlasting, Thou O God;" “ Thy, people's home, their dwelling place in all generations !”
Above all, is there a holy God, characterized specially by that word so repulsive to certain kinds of science and philosophy, and for which they find no ground in the physical universe ? Or, to put it in a more general or less scriptural form, is there a Supreme Lawgiver, with whom the physical is but