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shined in our hearts; and his words so nobly, so distinctly set forth the pure nature of faith, that while we may learn therefrom to glory in our privileges, we may also learn in what way the greatest mysteries of heavenly doctrine may be made clear to our souls.
Recognizing the melancholy fact, that man in himself is a low, corrupted being, he compares the original state of his soul to that of the wide, waste chaos, when darkness yet brooded on the face of the deep, and the earth was without form and void. Into the bosom of that shapeless mass the Spirit of God infused animation and order, beautiful and steadfast, and circled it round with delight. Nor had the principle of life been given to that chaos but a brief space, when, lo! from the everlasting recesses of beaven the Almighty poured forth the elements which hitherto heaven only had known. • Let there be light, and there was light.' And after this manner it is, that the chaos of man's soul, first reanimated by a new principle of life, is then enlightened by light from heaven : but it is not the mere enlightening of the inner being of man, without respect to especial objects, that the Gospel is intended to effect. And herein is the great error of all human systems in respect to the communication of knowledge, or the establishment of moral principles : they rest in the design of improving and strengthening the minds of men by
quickening them into thought; leaving them, when they have so done, to seek for that which they may delight to contemplate in the whole wide sphere of existence: the Gospel, on the other hand, while it raises and so clarifies the understanding, that it is fit for any exercise, and can appreciate good wherever found, sets out with this fundamental principle, that the Almighty Spirit of Wisdom, when it shines in the heart of man, shines there for this grand and especial object that it may give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. It has thus an end and a purpose : every ray of light that enters the soul, makes the goodness and the power of the Almighty more visible; and every moment the eye of the understanding, thus illuminated, is fixed on him, the being of the man becomes purer and more exalted in its tendencies.
But neither does the Gospel stop here. The Spirit of wisdom and revelation is not given so as to enable man to penetrate, with the clear eye of an archangel, the secret tabernacle of the Most High: that would be to raise us at once to the condition which we must pass through the valley of death to reach: nor would it be possible for us, weak and ever exposed as we are to the returns of Satan, and the influences which evil has still over us, to bear the splendour of Jehovah's throne, if the flood-gates of glory were opened to our eyes. What then is done for us, so as to make our souls capable of enjoying the light of the Father's countenance, weak and infirm though they be? How is it effected, that man, unfit as he is, either in condition or power, to bask in the revealed glory of the Almighty, should be enabled to contemplate, with ever increasing joy and hope, the wonders of eternal Majesty ?
The method pointed out by human reason for arriving at the knowledge of truth, is simply thisthe rejection of whatever statement is not fully comprehended by the understanding; whereas if this rule were founded in the nature of things, truth would not depend upon the eternal laws and relations of being, but on the power of different minds, which have infinitely varied degrees of strength, and contemplate objects through mediums which perpetually change and distort them.
Allowing, then, that there must be a vast portion of divine mysteries incomprehensible to man, yet not the less true, the important question arises—is the acknowledgment of the truth of these mysteries a necessary part of religion ? And in what frame of mind are we most likely to acknowledge it, so as to make the acknowledgment a religious exercise ? The answer to the former of these questions is, in many essential points, the same as it would be were we to ask, is it necessary to reli
gion to confess the being of God? For to doubt the truth of God's word, is to deny him the glory due to the first of his perfections; and in proportion as a mystery is, in substance, clearly stated in the Gospel, in that proportion is the truth of God involved in its exhibition. In respect to the latter question, the human mind is not only, as to its capacity, incapable of comprehending the whole extent of divine truth, but it is not always in a state of willingness to receive it. On both these accounts, a religion like Christianity involves the recognition of spiritual helps, as necessary to its proper reception; and a reason is at once found for those frequent and strong declarations in which the inspired authors of Scripture set forth the necessity of enlightenment from above.
If we turn now to the writings of some modern divines, and meet therein with systematic endeavours to methodize divine mysteries according to some preconceived system of morals; or if, in the general style of their discourses, we find the strength and independence of the human mind perpetually insisted upon, to the exclusion of those humbling considerations founded on the doctrines of spiritual regeneration and sanctification, may we not properly regard such a school of theology as little calculated to advance the cause of Christianity, or personal holiness ?
It so happens, however, that the circumstances under which the religious character of England has been formed, did at one period favour the temporary suppression of that species of Christian doctrine on which our earlier divines so eloquently and powerfully descanted. Enthusiasm does more indirect than direct harm : it makes the cautious err in their caution; persuades reason into scepti, cism ; rejoices in its own warmth, till it draws the sources of vitality from all around; and when the painful glare of its flame goes out, leaves men to believe that they are happier for the cold obscurity which follows. It was thus that the ill-judged severity of Puritan discipline, and the intemperance of spiritual zeal, led to that teaching of Christian morals without Christian doctrine, which for some time so greatly endangered the safety of our church. The effects of this have been long felt: the pious compiler of the Christian Philosophy saw and lamented them; and few more useful methods could be devised for the instruction of Christians in the knowledge of true doctrine than that which he pursued. Scripture is sufficient for those who will mark, learn, and, above all, inwardly digest: but while there are few who conscientiously devote themselves to this patient inquiry respecting the real sense of God's word, there are, perhaps, still fewer who feel confident enough in their own steadiness of thought, or clearness of