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God. The poor sinner interprets this terrible voice into an assurance of the wrath of God, and of eternal damnation-and, to any one who would suggest that there was yet a hope for him in God, he would answer, that it was God's own voice within him that pronounced the fearful doom, and that in expressing his fears he was only uttering what God was speaking in his conscience.

This is a dreadful condition to be in, for what can his heart desire in such circumstances, but that he were out of God's hands, and in his own. Now what is it that is wrong here?

Is the man supposing a condemnation which does not exist ? Is he attributing to himself a sinfulness which does not belong to him—or is he attributing to God a hatred of sin which does not belong to Him? No, he is not wrong in any of these ways. His error lies in not knowing that this terrible voice is yet the voice of a friend, the voice of one who would bless him in the only way in which he can be blessed, namely, by turning him away from his iniquities. It is indeed a terrible voicefor it is the voice of an executioner calling for blood—but yet it is the voice of one who may be trusted with a perfect confidence,

for He tasted death for every man, from love to every man, and as He himself through the shedding of His own blood entered into his glory, so now would He persuade the poor trembling sinner to consent to partake in his blood-shedding, with the assurance of partaking also in his glory, and to yield himself up to the will of that God who killeth to make alive.

Thus a man may be under a true word, and a true teaching of God, and yet be without profit from it, because he gives it a false interpretation within his own heart. He is living in the flesh, and the spiritual law comes to his conscience, and denounces death on the flesh; and because he is living in the flesh, and identifying himself with it, 80 he interprets into a denouncement of eternal death to himself, the denouncement of death to the flesh, instead of welcoming it as the voice of One come “ to bless him, by turning him away from his iniquities,” by separating him from the flesh, through the shedding of its blood.

I believe that it is a common idea, that, however men may misinterpret God's outward teaching in the Bible or in providence, the inward teaching of the Spirit

cannot be misinterpreted—and hence it is inferred, that all who have the Spirit's teaching are saved, and that those who continue unconverted have not had the Spirit's teaching. But this is a great delusion, a delusion which relieves man from responsibility, and lays on God the burden of all the souls that continue in rebellion. God is continually teaching man inwardly in his conscience, and man can and does misinterpret the inward teaching as well as the outward; for the law is as much the voice of the Spirit, as the gospel is, only that that voice, when it is interpreted in the flesh, is law, and when it is interpreted in the Spirit, is gospel.

As the subject is most important, let us, in farther illustration of it, suppose this same man raised from the bed of sickness and carried into other circumstances. Let us suppose him suffering under a grievous act of injustice from a fellow-creature, on whom he had conferred benefits. He feels the offence most bitterly, and he sees most distinctly the wickedness of the offender. He condemns the injustice and ingratitude of his conduct, and vents his feelings in expressing the strongest desires that vengeance may overtake him. We reason with him on the


uncharitableness and wrongness of his own conduct in this matter-but he answers us, that he is expressing no more abhorrence than what he feels in his conscience to be in God's own judgment due to such acts. We might then reply, You make the same mistake now in this fellow-creature's case, that you made before in your own-you did not know that the voice of terror then was the voice of a friend, and you are now not entering into the purpose of Him who is speaking within you in this matter. He is not speaking in hatred to that poor creature, but is showing you the evil of his conduct, that He may prevail with you to co-operate with Him, in blessing him, by turning him away from his iniquity.

And let no one think that the inward witness or teaching of God's spirit, is really reduced to nothing, or at least to an absolute uncertainty, by the acknowledgment of its liability to misinterpretation; for the misinterpretation is not necessary, but belongs to man's responsibility, being a consequence of his living in the flesh. And what teaching can we conceive, either inward or outward, free from such a liability ? For does not the very idea of teaching suppose something in

the mind of the person taught, which needs to be changed, and which, of course, whilst unchanged, resists or modifies the teaching? And, moreover, is not this liability in perfect agreement with that word, “the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not?” The carnal mind of man is the darkness in which the true light shines ; and though the light is seen in a certain way, yet it is misinterpreted. But still, when the misinterpretation is placed by the side of the true interpretation, it will, I believe, almost always be discerned and detected, by the conscience even of the person who has made it.

Thus in the two instances given above, I believe that almost any man would, in his conscience, acknowledge the justness of the interpretations which I have opposed to the misinterpretations, if he would calmly compare them, even though he himself had

previously made the misinterpretations ; which would prove that he had all along within himself, not only an inward witness, but also a test by which he might try the truth of any interpretation put on the suggestions of the witness, whether he used that test or not.

There is, doubtless, something culpable

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