Page images

if it does not imply that there is a power in the sleeper to awake, and to arise out of the death in which he lies, most assuredly confers on him that power; and that power is the power of joining himself to the good seed. The sleeper has no power to quicken himself, but he has the power of yielding himself to the seed, which will quicken him. If God's seed were not there, the sleeper could do nothing but sleep on in death; but the quickening word is there, and there in such a way that the sleeper may rise from the dead. As it is written, "The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." It is not there that thou mayest be condemned; it is not there to aggravate thy rebellion; it is there that thou mayest do it. And thus whenever a man is quickened, that is, begins to live to God; it is by his allowing God's word to have free course in him, and God's work to proceed in him, without frustrating it; and thus it is God's doing, it is God's quickening; it is not the man's doing, it is his ceasing from his own doing, and yielding himself to God's doing. He must choose, and can choose between the wheat and the tare, and that is all his business; but

it is a continual business-it is the life and the fight of faith.

To live in the flesh is to live to self, being our own masters, and walking by a wisdom and a strength which we find within ourselves, and feel to be our own. Whatever direction or strength may be communicated to us by the spirit who works and rules in the flesh, he does not require any acknowledgment of their coming from him; and indeed there is no consciousness of their being derived from any other source than our own breast. The object of that evil spirit is to make us seek independence; he does not desire that we should have any feeling of his assistance or presence, but, on the contrary, he desires that we should acknowledge no control whatever over the wish and purpose of our own hearts.

To live by faith is in all respects the opposite of this-it is to live to God, and to live by a direction and strength which not only do come from Him in fact, but which we consciously receive from Him, through the word which He is speaking within us from moment to moment, feeling that we are not our own property but His, and

that as we have no right to act without Him, and as all that we do act without Him is sin, so when we neglect the word through which He communes with us, and refuse to listen to it, we are not only rebelling against Him, but shutting out that life from our souls, which alone can work in us to will and to do what is good. Faith always has reference to the inward word, and to that which receives its witness, distinguishing it from all other voices, whether from within or from without, and resting on it as the living word of the Almighty faithful God. As it is written in Rom. x. 17, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing through (as it is in the original) the word of God." And of that word of God which is here referred to, it is written in verse 10th, "The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that is the word of faith which we preach." So it appears that faith comes by hearing that which is spoken to us through the word, which is in our mouth and in our heart.

There is then, a word of God nigh us, in our mouth and heart; and faith cometh by receiving that which it speaks, or that which passes through it. If a man or a book says any thing, to which that inward

word bears testimony, so that the thing passes through it to us, then that thing becomes a matter of faith to us; but however much our judgment may approve of it, and however consistent and rational it may appear to us, yet unless we receive it as listeners to the inward word, unless it passes through that channel to us, it is not a matter of faith, it is not spiritual nourishment to our souls. That, that word of faith, is the seed of the Aéyes, the Word in whom is life. It is the coming forth of that life which lighteth every man that cometh into the world; and which is come forth not only to lighten him, but to give him life, if he will receive the light, if he will listen inwardly to the word which is nigh him. This is the difference between information and faith. Many have much information about God, who have never yet thought of listening to His voice, to and in themselves. And so they have no true religion, no religion which they themselves know to be true, from having received it direct and at the first hand. They know nothing of that covenant of which the characteristic is, that They who have part in it are all "taught of God." And the reason of this their condition, is not that God hath withheld

His teaching from them, but that they have not listened to Him. He is faithful to that word, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt go, and I will guide thee with mine eye,” (Psal. xxxii. 8;) but the caution which immediately follows that word, namely, "Be not like unto horse and mule, that have no understanding," explains how God's instruction is frustrated, by man's refusal to attend and understand.

In John vi. 37, 39, 44, 65, there are some expressions which, at first sight, appear to give a very decided support to the common view of the doctrine of election, and which accordingly have been much quoted and leant to by its advocates, and have been felt to be very dark and startling by those who see in Christ a love of God for every man. But if we attend to the context, and carry along with us the recollection that there are two opposite spirits striving in every man, between which he is ever called to make his choice, we shall find that these expressions have in reality a very different meaning from that which is attributed to them. For if a man is really standing between two drawings, the drawing of the spirit of the world, and the drawing of the Spirit of the Father,

« PreviousContinue »