Page images

first to take to ourselves this safe and consoling rule, namely, to make up for the deficiency of our knowledge by the sincerity of our practice; in other words, to act up to what we do know, or, at least, earnestly strive so to do. So far as a man holds fast to this rule, he has a strong ground of comfort under every degree of ignorance, or even of error. And it is a rule applicable to the rich and to the poor, to the educated and the uneducated, to every state and station of life and to all the differences, which arise from different opportunities of acquiring knowledge. Different obligations may result from different means of obtaining information; but this rule comprises all differences.

The next reflection is, that in meeting with difficulties, nay, very great difficulties, we meet with nothing strange, nothing but what in truth might reasonably have been expected beforehand. It was to be expected that a revelation, which was to have its completion in another state of existence, would contain many expressions which referred to that state; and which, on

account of such reference, would be made clear and perfectly intelligible only to those who had experience of that state, and to us after we had attained to that experience; whilst, however, in the meantime, they may convey to us enough of information, to admonish us in our conduct, to support our hopes, and to incite our endeavours. Therefore the meeting with difficulties, owing to this cause, ought not to surprise us, nor to trouble us over much. Seriousness, nay, even anxiety, touching every thing, which concerns our salvation, no thoughtful man can help; but it is possible we may be distressed by doubts and difficulties more than there is any occasion to be distressed.

Lastly, under all our perplexities, under all the misgivings of mind, to which even good men (such is the infirmity of human nature) are subject, there is this important assurance to resort to, that we have a protection over our heads, which is constant and abiding: that God, blessed be his name, is for evermore: that Jesus Christ our Lord is the same yesterday, to-day,

and for ever: that, like as a traveller by land or sea, go where he will, always sees, when he looks up, the same sun; so in our journey through a varied existence, whether it be in our present state, or in our next state, or in the awful passage from one to the other; in the world in which we live, or in the country which we seek; in the hour of death, no less than in the midst of health, we are in the same upholding hands, under the same sufficient and unfailing support.

[ocr errors]





1 CORINTHIANS, iii. 16.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?


'HERE are ways of considering the subject of spiritual influence, as well as a want of considering it, which lay it open to difficulties and to misconceptions. But if the being liable to misapprehension and to misrepresentation be thought an objection to any doctrine, I know of no doctrine which is not liable to the same; nor any

which has not, in fact, being loaded, at various times, with great mistakes.

One difficulty, which has struck the minds of some, is, that the doctrine of an influencing Spirit, and of the importance of this influence to human salvation, is an arbitrary system; making every thing to depend, not upon ourselves, nor upon any exertion of our own, but upon the gift of the Spirit.

It is not for us, we allow, to canvass the gifts of God; because we do not, and it seems impossible that we should, sufficiently understand the motive of the giver. In more ordinary cases, and in cases more level to our comprehension, we seem to acknowledge the difference between a debt and a gift. A debt is bound, as it were, by known rules of justice: a gift depends upon the motive of the giver, which often can be known only to himself. To judge of the propriety either of granting or withholding that to which there is no claim (which is, in the strictest sense, a favour, which, as such, rests with the donor to bestow as to him seemeth good), we

« PreviousContinue »