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which so pronounced it derogatory, was vastly, incomparably inferior to the mental capacity whose acts it arraigned. The whole scheme of divine action, I further remarked, “in the government and arrangement of the universe, was not before “Mr. E. said, that was a very important remark.
Suppose,' said I, 'the earth to have always been so positioned with respect to the sun, that only a segment of the sun's sphere had ever been visible. Mankind would, in such a case, have pronounced what is really a sphere or globe to be but a hemisphere—and equally may we be mistaken,' I added, 'in our ideas respecting the nature and propriety of the Divine actions, when the whole case is not before us. But,'I added further, 'there were many ways in which it might clearly be proved that God “manifest in the flesh” to take away our sins, furnished really a surpassingly glorious development of glorious attributes of Deity. But
upon the whole question,' I said, 'revelation must be our guide-reason was wholly insufficient. Divinity,' I said, 'was at least as superior an order of intelligence over man, as man's intellect was over the instinct of the lower animals. Many of man's actions,' I added, ' we plainly knew to be incomprehensible to the brutes, and it would, therefore, be very wonderful if many of God's ways were not incomprehensible to us.*
Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou find,
Why form'd no weaker, blinder, and no less ?” * The heathens admitted this, so Homer makes Jove to
As one had said, “a religion without a mystery, is a religion without a God." ;
“I illustrated this by an anecdote, which appeared considerably to impress Mr. E.'s mind. You
may, perhaps, said I, ‘have read of St. Augustine.' Mr. Ê. said he had. I then named an incident related of St. Augustine, with which the reader may or may not have met. He is stated to have been walking on the sea-shore, meditating on the Trinity, and endeavouring to comprehend more respecting that most glorious and mysterious truth than it was possible for man to know. Whilst so engaged, he observed a child seated on the sand, holding in one hand a small shell, and with another pouring water into it. After observing the child for a while, Augustine inquired the nature of his employment. 'I am trying,' said the child, “to empty the sea into this shell.' 'Foolish child, said the saint, 'can you think such an action possible ?' 'Not more foolish than you, St. Augustine,' replied the child, 'to endeavour, with the reason of a man, to comprehend fully the Divine Trinity.' The legend, I added, stated the child to have been an angel; and, however fabulous, we might learn an important lesson from it--a lesson we are taught in various places of Scripture. Canst
"Seek not thou to find
But thou, nor they, shall search the thoughts that roll
Pope's Translation, Iliad, book i.
thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?' Job xi. 7, 8. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it,' Psa. cxxxix. 6.
‘Mr. E., who had listened with suspended breath to this little essay, appeared exceedingly impressed by it; he heaved a heavy sigh, as if relieved, and commenced repeating the substance of what I had said--a common practice with him, ' to fix it,' as he said, on his memory.'
“I added, that the greatest point was to obtain in the heart an evidence of Christ's divinity, a sense of his presence in the soul, without which all was vanity and vexation of spirit;' pointing my aged and interesting friend to the Scriptures in which this blessing is emphatically promised, especially the 14th John, which I explained.
“ Upon the subject of sin, Mr. E.'s views were extremely vague, but in proportion as a growing conviction of our Saviour's divinity impressed his mind, in just such proportion did his due appreciation of the sinfulness of sin increase also. He who is brought to believe that a God 'manifest in the flesh' (1 Tim. iii. 16) has been the atonement necessary for sin, cannot but feel that that which required such a sacrifice must be sinful indeed.
My conversations with Mr. E. would occupy a volume. Light gradually appeared to be breaking upon his mind.
He was, however, exceedingly critical, and “slow of heart to believe.'
“He said on one occasion, 'Mr. Vanderkiste, I cannot conceal anything from you ; I have been thinking much respecting the Scriptural statement as to the punishment of hell being eternal; I find
I cannot believe it. Oh no!' added he, 'God is too merciful to torment his creatures thus ; do you really believe, sir,' said he, “that the Almighty will torment his creatures for ever and ever, for the sins of a few brief years ?'
“I replied, that Mr. E. must refer to the argument I had repeated to him on a former occasion, respecting the reasonable insufficiency of human judgment to arraign correctly the acts of omnipotence. I repeated this argument at length; and added, that the question reasonably was, and reasonably must be, whether the Almighty had informed us such was his intention--that it was quite impossible for us to apportion what was the due punishment of sin, since we could not estimate fully the turpitude of sin. It clearly exceeded our calculations. Judging of its deadly character by its effects, they were clearly found in this world to expand from a small origin to circles of time and consequence we could not measure, and to produce wretchedness and misery beyond all our powers of estimation. The objection, I added, that what occupied only a few years in commission was not worthy of a punishment beyond computation, was a proposition by which men were not influenced in the infliction of human justice,'--illustrating this.* I added, that if the Scriptures were to be believed, and that mankind had forfeited all claim to heaven in justice, or on account of deserving, and that redemption was purely and wholly an act of mercy --then the man or woman who lived and died
* A murder, for example, occupying perhaps but a few seconds in committal, receives a punishment in the depriva. tion of life, and consequences to those connected with the murderer, which are quite incalculable.
neglecting that “great salvation” could not surely have any further claim whatever on the mercy of God.'
“These and other arguments appeared much to impress Mr. E., but not until he was brought to feel the power of praying to God through Christthe sweet influences of that prayer-then only did he cease to arraign the judgments of the Almighty at the bar of his fallible judgment. Not until then could he say:
I argue not
Right onward.' Or with David: 'Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for
Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever,' Psa. cxxxi.
“ To watch the progress of a human soul to a saving knowledge of Christ, from a condition of impenitence,
The stormy winter of our discontent,'-is surely the most interesting study on earth. It is--what shall we say ?-it is as when the ices of winter burst asunder, and the mists fly upwards, and before the returning influences of the sun, thé. bud is on the tree, and the verdure re-clothes the barrenness that was, and one flower and then another decks the earth, until beneath the full summer shining of the Sun of righteousness, the heart be established with grace.'