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illumination you needed; or if you can recollect times when you visited holy places, and certainly gained there a manifestation such as the world could not give; or if sermons have come to you with power, and have been blessed to your spiritual good; or if your soul has been, as it were, transfigured within you, when you came to the Most Holy Sacrament; or if Lent and Passiontide brought to you what you had not before; or if at Ordinations you have been partakers of an indescribable influence, and almost savour of grace, though you realized it not at the time; or if strange providences, and almost supernatural coincidences have hung about the Church's Ordinances; if mercies or judgments have descended through them upon yourselves, or upon those about you; or if you have experience of death-beds, and know how full of hope the children of our Church can die;–01 pause ere you doubt that we have a Divine Presence among us still, and have not to seek it. Let us enjoy what we still have, though the world deride as ;—though our brethren tell us that in their and our Sacraments we have not what we think we have; though they tell us it is all a dream, and rudely bid us seek elsewhere: no, they do not need to seek who have already found; we need other arguments before we seek what, through God's mercy, we hope to enjoy where we are. « The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground; yea, I have a goodly heritage;" why should not we enjoy the hidden Kingdom of Christ, though others may not have faith to see it? And we will cling to the Church in which we are, not for its own sake, but because we humbly trust that Christ is in it; and while
He is in it, we will abide in it. He shall leave before we do. He shall lead, and we will but follow; we will not go before Him; we will not turn away from Him, we will ever turn towards Him. We will but ask ourselves this single question, “Is He here?” for “ with Him is the well of life," and justifying grace, and Divine favour. “Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men; the Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus.”
Dutward and Jnward notes of the Church.
I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep
that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”—2 TIM.
time, should be able to use these words of the great Apostle as he used them. God who made us, has given to each of us his own place. Some He places in heathen countries, some in Christian ; some in the full light and grace of the Gospel, others amid shadows; some He visits almost with sensible tokens of His presence, others He barely supports with the hope and surmise of it. Some He leads forward only by intimations, and, as it were, whispers; as the old Saints, who "went out, not knowing whither they went;" and "died in faith, not receiving the promise.” And others, like St. Paul, have before now been granted visions of the third heaven, that full and intimate Presence of Christ, which enables the Apostle to say, in the words of the text, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”
Yet in spite of these great differences in God's dealings with man and man, there is this one thing the same in all cases, that He has dealt with each. I mean that religion is a personal, private, and individual matter, that it consists in a communion between God and the soul, and that its true evidences belong to the soul that believes, are its property, and not something common to it and the whole world. God vouchsafes to speak to us one by one, to manifest Himself to us one by one, to lead us forward one by one; He gives us something to rely upon which others do not experience, which we cannot convey to others, which we can but use for ourselves.
Now that there is much in Scripture agreeable to this statement, no one I suppose will den; but this question arises, which is worth considering, whether the Gospel Dispensation does not, even more than the Law, in one respect modify it, or even run counter to it and reverse it ? For if there be a distinction of the Gospel plainly laid down in Scripture, it is that it is a social religion, and addresses individuals as parts of a whole. And, being social, it must have all things in common, and its evidences and tokens in the number. And, further, if it is social, it must be a public religion, "a city set upon a hill;" and its evidences will be in a measure public. Nay, further, its great note, as announced by the Prophets, is not only that it is social, that it is public, but that it is both social and public in the very highest sense, because it is Catholic, universal every where; and this note is insisted on as something special in itself, of a nature to dazzle and subdue the mind, like a miracle, or like the sun's light in the heavens. It was to be the
characteristic gift of the Christian Church, that she her. self was to be a great public evidence of her mission, that she was to be her own evidence. Her very look, her bearing, her voice, were to be her credentials. As Adam had sovereignty over brute animals on his creation, or as the second Adam, her Lord and Maker, "spake as one having authority, and not as the Scribes," so she was to win or to awe the souls of men generally; not this one or that, but all, though variously, by the manifest royalty of her very presence.
She received this gift from her Lord in the beginning—to claim and command obedience when she spoke, because she spoke; and that not from any thing special in the mind of the hearer, but from the voice and tone of the speaker.
Never must we disguise this great truth. labour of Egypt, and the merchandize of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine, they shall come after thee, in chains they shall come over; and they shall fall down unto thee; they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee, and there is none else, there is no God.” Again, “I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water-courses. One shall
I am the Lord's, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” Again : “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes." And again : “No weapon that is formed against thee shall