Page images

doo god, Chrisen, or Christna, and the Christian Christos, the son of Mary.” Many of the French philosophers, and perhaps Volney, are unacquainted with Greek.

But I hope the Christian scholar will never give up the Greek etymology of the word Christ, evidently a translation of the Hebrew Messiah; nor the sublime and mysterious doctrine which it leads to, the metaphorical anointing of the Holy Ghost, the sanctifying, consecrating, purifying influence of divine grace."


On what is called by devout persons Experience in


There is a peace of God, which passeth all understanding, and baffles all power of description. The flavour of a peach or pine-apple is delightful to the palate, but words can give no idea of it to him who has never tasted them. There is a fragrance in a

1 Mr. Volney further says, that " Yesus, or Jesus, was an ancient name given to young Bacchus, the clandestine son of the virgin Minerva, who, in the whole history of his life, and even in his death, calls tó mind the history of the God of the Christians ; that is, the Star of the Day, of which they are both of them emblems.” Let us avoid the folly of fanciful learning; and say rather that the Star of the Day, is an emblem of Jesus Christ, gloriously enlightening, and vitally warming, by his influence, the intellectual system.

rose, which, while the nerves perceive it with complacency, cannot be communicated, in the slightest degree, by language. Such also is the heavenly manna; and he who would form a just notion of its exquisite sweetness, must taste it. No learning, not even the argumentative skill of an Aristotle, can afford him the least idea of it without actual sensation.

“Were I to define divinity,” (says the admirable author of Select Discourses.) “I should rather call it a divine life, than a divine science;' it being something rather to be understood by a spiritual sensation, than by any verbal description.

“ Divinity is a true efflux from the eternal light, which, like the sun-beams, does not only enlighten, but heat and enliven. The knowledge of divinity that appears in systems is but a poor wax-light; but the powerful energy of divine knowledge displays itself in purified souls,' the true lledov AXnJelas.

“ To seek our divinity merely in books and writings, is to seek the living among the dead. We do but in vain seek God, many times, in these, where his truth too often is not so much enshrined as entombed. No; intra te quere Deum ; seek for God within thine own soul. He is best discerned voɛpą znaon, by an intellectual feeling.'3 Eote de ψυχης αισθησις τις, “ the soul itself has a certain feeling

“ The reason why, notwithstanding all our acute

Bishop Taylor and Mr. Smith coincide here, not only in sentiment, but expression. 2 The soil in which truth grows and flourishes. 3 Plotinus.

reasonings and subtle pursuits, truth prevails no more in the world, is, that we so often disjoin truth and goodness, which of themselves can never be disunited.

“ There is a knowing of the truth as it is in Jesus;' as it is in a Christ-like nature; as it is in that sweet, mild, humble, and loving spirit of Jesus, which spreads itself, like a morning sun, upon the souls of good men, full of light and life. There is an inward beauty, life, and loveliness in divine truth, which cannot be known, but only when it is digested into life and practice.

« Our Saviour, the great master of divine truth, would not, while he was here on earth, draw it up into a system or body, nor would his disciples after him: he would not lay it out to us in any canons or articles of belief, not being so careful to stock and enrich the world with opinions, as with true piety, and a godlike pattern of purity, as the best way to thrive in all spiritual understanding. His main scope was to promote a holy life, as the best and most compendious way to a right belief. He hangs all true acquaintance with divinity upon the doing God's will. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. This is that alone which will make us, as St. Peter tells us, that we shall not be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. ,“ There is an inward sweetness and deliciousness in divine truth, which no sensual mind can taste or relish. The puxikos avnp, the natural man' savours not the things of God. Corrupt passions and terrene affections are apt, of their own nature, to disturb all serene thoughts, to precipitate our judgments, and warp our understandings. It was a good maxim of the old Jewish writers, that the Holy Spirit dwells not in earthly passions. Divinity is not so well perceived by a subtle wit, wotep acoOnoel kekaJapuern, as by pure sensation.

“He that will find truth, must seek it with a free judgment, and a sanctified mind : he that thus seeks, shall find : he shall live in truth, and truth shall live in him: it shall be like a stream of living waters issuing out of his own soul: he shall drink of the waters of his own cistern, and be satisfied : he shall every morning find this heavenly manna lying upon his soul, and be fed with it to eternal life. He will find satisfaction within, feeling himself in conjunction with truth, though all the world should dispute against him.”

Thus the heart of a good man will experience the most pleasurable sensations, when he finds, and find it he will, the pearl of great price,' the living energetic gospel, lodged, by divine grace, in the sanctuary of his bosom. He will be filled with all joy in believing;' and thus experiencing the efficacy of the Christian religion, he can entertain no doubt of its truth, its divine original. The real difficulties and obscurities of the Scriptures give him little trouble, much less the cavils of sceptics. He has the 'witness in himself,"? that the gospel is the word of God,' the incorruptible seed’3 of holiness, and such felicity as the world never gave, and cannot take away. He cannot

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

adequately describe his state. It is an unspeakable gift. He feels it, and is grateful.

The excellent Norris, after having spent many years in the usual studies of academics, in logic, metaphysics, and other, what he calls, unconcerning curiosities, comes to the following resolution :

“ I think,” says he, “I shall now chiefly apply myself to the reading of such books as are rather persuasive than instructive; such as are sapid, pathetic, and divinely relishing; such as warm, kindle, and enlarge the interior, and awaken the divine sense (or feeling) of the soul; as considering with myself, that I have now, after so much reading and speculation, more need of heat than of light. Though, if I were for more light still, I think this would prove the best method of illumination; and when all is done, the love of God is the best light of the soul. For I consider, with the excellent Cardinal Bona, that a man may have knowledge without love ; but he that loves, although he wants sciences, hụmanly acquired, yet he will know more than human wisdom can teach him, because he has that master within him, who teaches man knowledge."?

If other students and teachers were to follow his example in this instance, there would be much more true devotion and sincere piety in the world ; and few would be infidels, except among the desperately profligate, who harden their hearts, and cloud their understandings by habitual vice and intemperance;

I Thomas a Kempis thus attempts to describe the happy state, imperfectly indeed, but devoutly, “ Frequens Christi visi. tatio cum homine. interno, dulcis sermocinatio, grata consolatio, multa pax,” &c.

2 Via Compend. ad Deum.

« PreviousContinue »