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than man; but that is not the truth taught here. We are taught here that His witness, or testimony, is greater than the witness of man, that it is of a different and higher kind -80 that it cannot be communicated by one man to another. It is a witness within a man ; for it is farther written, “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself.” And this inward witness, and the eternal life, go together; for “this is the witness, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." I may observe, that there is a striking connection between what is here said of the inward witness, and what is said in Rom. x. 8–17, of the inward word, through the hearing of which alone faith comes. Now, if a man who has received that greater witness or testimony, tells me the things which he has learned of God by it, unless I also have the same higher testimony, I am left to the man's own testimony; and if I know him to be truthful and reasonable, I may believe him—but my belief in what he tells me is very different from his; for he believes upon God's testimony, whilst I believe upon his; I have only the witness of man, he has the witness which is greater. Yea, although he
may have miraculous credentials, authenticating him as God's messenger to me, which commend themselves fully to my conviction, yet still I require to hear the word in my heart, testifying to what he tells me,-I require the inward witness to the substance of his message, before I can be said to have faith in it, and before I can find eternal life in it. Thus Jesus Himself, appearing before that multitude clothed in his high credentials as the Messiah, and acknowledged and listened to by them as such, yet declared to them that they had not true faith in Him, and could not have it, until they turned to the inward word, by which the Father would teach them. And surely what applies to Him in this respect, must also apply to the written word—the Bible. Men may have a very strong and zealous persuasion of the inspired character of the Bible--and yet that persuasion may not rest at all on the witness which is greater, in which case there is no true faith, however real the conviction may be.
I may give a practical example, illustrative of these observations, which I am sure will commend itself to some at least of my read
All men know that they are to die, they have an absolute conviction of it, and
yet we see nothing flowing from this conviction, in the great mass of mankind, at all corresponding to its weighty meaning,—we see no weakening of the tie which binds them to present things, produced by it, and the reason is that they are looking on it as a mere fact, and are not meeting God in it, which is the very essence of faith. Faith receives instruction from God Himself,— it is conviction formed in the light of God's Spirit; and no other conviction is faith. And therefore when we receive instruction, even in the truth of God, if any thing intervenes between God and the soul, so that the soul does not meet Himself in the instruction, it is not his witness which is received, and thus there is no true faith. And in this way, I believe it is that there are many so sincerely and honestly convinced of the truth of the Bible that they would readily die for it, who nevertheless have no true faith in it, and thus their conviction has so very little influence on their hearts and lives. as I believe that this is a very general case, although I have already urged so much the necessity of listening to the inward word, through which alone the spirit is communicated, in order to the receiving of any profit
from the outward word, I think it may be profitable to show, in a striking example, how the life of the flesh is cherished, and the eternal life rejected, by taking the outward word as a substitute for the inward.
In the Jewish dispensation, we have an instructive type of the condition of man when he consents to receive the communications of God not directly from Himself, but through another, and at second hand, as it were.
Moses met God and had communion with Him,—the people met Moses, and received his report. This was the veil which was upon their hearts. It was much easier for them to receive instruction in this way, it did not keep them in a state of awe or prostration. They could hear the familiar voice of Moses, without being on the stretch, without the consuming of their flesh; they could hear him and live—but they felt, that they could not hear God and live. They could not enjoy the things of the natural life, in that supernatural intercourse, in that flesh-withering presence—and as they wished to enjoy these things, they declined the high privilege of direct dealing with God. But God wishes man to understand that it is only through this communion that the corn
of wheat can so die as to bring forth much fruit; and to believe and know that there is a life in this communion, which far overpays the withering of that passing life which is sacrificed for it. But the flesh ever joins with the Israelites who said to Moses, “speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”
We know, indeed, that many of them had direct spiritual communion with God, but I speak of the typical character of their dispensation, as marked by this peculiarity. No doubt they thought that by escaping from direct communion with God, they were escaping from a yoke and burden, that would have kept them from rest and from the free enjoyment of themselves, and therefore it was that they declined it. And yet it was by declining this communion, that they shut themselves out from the true rest, and the true liberty, and made the spirit of their dispensation, a spirit of bondage. For without this communion we can only know God as a giver of laws, and an imposer of tasks, we cannot enter into His mind and into His
e, we are servants and not sons. would meet the love of His heart, we must meet the terror of His presence; and if we