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passages from the Prophets, is told us in many places of the New Testament. The Prophets had spoken of a "feast of fat things ;” of “wine and milk;” of the Lord "guiding us continually, and satisfying our sonl in drought, and making our bones fat;" of our “light rising in obscurity, and our darkness being as the noon-day !;" and in accordance, St. John tells us, “ Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things; . . . the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you." And St. Paul : “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance;" and he prays that “Christ may dwell in ” his brethren's “hearts by faith, that they, being rooted and grounded in love, might be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that they might be filled with all the fulness of God." And our Lord Himself says, “ To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it!.”
It seems plain then, and it is a great source of comfort at a time like this, when the public notes of the Church shine so faintly and feebly among us, to have cause to believe, that her private tokens are the true portion of Christians; that her private tokens were meant to guide them; and that if these are vouch
Isa. xxv. 6; lv. 1; lviii. 10, 11. 8 1 John ii. 20. 27. Eph. i. 13, 14; iii. 17–19. Rev. ii. 17.
safed to us, they are God's guides to us, and signs of His Presence, and that we need not look out for others.
Nay, further, as I suggested when I began, not only children of the Church, but even those who are seeking and have not found, are often guided to judge from Scripture, by personal and private intimations, and not merely by that manifested glory of His King. dom which is the symbol of His Presence to the world. Surely much is said in the Old Testament to the point here. Abraham and the Patriarchs, Moses, Gideon, David, Solomon, Jonah, Nehemiah, Esther, and many others, are instances of what I mean, in their respective measures, according to their particular dispensation. They were guided, even in a system of miracles, by other miracles and providences, personal and particular, as is very certain. They were not left, though seekers, to the general evidence, though miraculous. Again, in the New Testament, the wise men are directed by a star; the shepherds, by the Angelic Host; Cornelius, by a vision ; Saul, by the visible presence of our Lord : and though the very sight of the Church be such, as by her ordinary and general attributes to draw many out of the world into herself (according to the text already cited, which, after speaking of her excellent order in her first days, adds, “The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved ”), yet even where she converts by her outward notes, you will find that there is a something of a personal nature combined with them when they are addressed to individuals. For instance : St. Paul, speaking of the prophesying or preaching of the Apostolic age, says, “If ... there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all; and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest, and so falling down on his face, he will worship God; and report that God is in you of a truth." He is converted, you see, by a token addressed to himself personally ; viz. the knowledge bestowed upon the Church of his secret heart. And so, again, the Samaritan woman, after experiencing our Lord's supernatural knowledge, says, “ Come see a man which told me all things that ever I did : is not this the Christ?” And Nathanael, when our Lord spoke of his having been under the fig-tree, said,
Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.” And the Apostles : “ Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee; by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God." The exercise of His Omniscience was, in these instances, displayed towards: themselves.
On the whole, then, I repeat, the distinction surely cannot be questioned, which I have been drawing out. Man needs recovery; his conscience tells him so: the Sacraments and Ordinances of the Church promise him what he needs; the great question which arises in his mind is, what guarantee has he that the Church has a right to promise it ? or that what professes to be the Church is the Church? I answer, that, before he partakes those Sacraments, he will be attracted to the Church by her public notes; but when he once has tasted the good word, and in proportion as he is partaker of it, that word itself in its inward power, in its power upon himself, will keep him firm in his allegiance to her.
1 i Cor. xiv. 24, 25. John iv. 29; i. 49; xvi. 80.
Now it is plain how this doctrine applies to these times, and to us. Alas! I cannot deny that the outward notes of the Church are partly gone from us, and partly going'; and a most fearful judgment it is. “ Bebold ... the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine." "I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day. And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation.”
“ All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over them, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God.” This in good measure has fallen upon us. The Church of God y is under eclipse among us.
Where is our unity, for which Christ prayed ? where our charity, which He enjoined ? where the faith once delivered, when each has his own doctrine ? where our visibility, which was to be a light to the world ? where that awful worship, which struck fear into every soul? And what is the consequence? “ We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as
1 An allusion was here intended to the then recent appointment (1841) of an Anglican Bishop at Jerusalem, which has had a most grievous effect in weakening the argument for our Church's Catholicity, and in shaking the belief in it of individuals. May that measure atterly fail and come to nought, and be as though it had never been !
9 Isa. xiii. 10. Amos vüi. 9, 10. Ezek. xxxii. 8.
in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men And as the Jews shortly before their own rejection had two dark tokens—the one, a bitter contempt of the whole world, and the other, multiplied divisions and furious quarrels at home—so we English, as if some abomination of desolation were coming on us also, scorn almost all Christianity but our own; and yet have, not one, but a hundred gospels among ourselves, and each of them with its own hot defenders, till our very note and symbol is discord, and we wrangle and denounce, and call it life; but peace we know not, nor faith, nor love. . And this being so, what a temptation is it to those who read and understand the word of God, who perceive what it enjoins and promises, and also feel keenly what we are-what a temptation is it to many such to be impatient under this visitation! Who indeed is there at all, who lets himself dwell upon the thought of it, but must at times be deeply troubled at it? and who can be startled, not I, if a person here or there, painfully sensitive of this fearful eclipse of the Sun of Truth, and hoping, if that be possible, to find something better elsewhere, and either not having cherished, or neglecting to look for those truer tokens of Christ's presence in the Church, which are personal to himself, leaves us for some other communion ? Alas! and we, instead of being led to reflect on our own share in his act, instead of dwelling on our own sin, are eloquent about his; instead of confessing our own most unchristian divisions, can but cry out against his dividing from us; instead of repenting of our own profaneness which has shocked
i Isa. lix. 10.