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idolatry, and the debasement of slavery, the noblest and ablest and the fairest, as well as the brutish and the ignorant, one and all, by a secret charm, became the prey of the Church, and the bondsmen of Christ. And thus a great and wide-spreading kingdom came into existence all at once, like spring after winter, from within.
Now if you ask me how this was done, or in what way the grace of Almighty God dealt with the spirits He had created, the answer is ready: Man is not sufficient for his own happiness; he is not happy except the Presence of God be with him. When he was created, God breathed into him that supernatural life of the Spirit which is his true happiness: and when he fell, he lost the divine gift, and with it his happiness also. Ever since he has been unhappy; ever since he has a void within him which needs filling, and he knows not how to fill it. He scarcely realizes his own need : only his actions show that he feels it, for he is ever restless when he is not dull and insensible, seeking in one thing or another that blessing which he has lost. Multitudes, indeed, there are, whose minds have never been opened ; and multitudes who stupify and deaden their minds, till they lose their natural hunger and thirst: but, whether aware of their need or not, whether made restless by it or not, still all men have it, and the Gospel supplies it; and then, even if they did not recognize their want by nature, they at length learn it by its supply. This, then, is the secret of the triumph of Christ's Kingdom. Soldiers of this world receive their bounty-money on enlisting. They take it, and become the servants of an
earthly prince : shall not they, much more, be faithful, yea, unto the death, who have received the earnest of the true riches, who have been fed with the hidden manna, who have “ tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,” and “the graciousness of the Lord,” and “the peace which passeth all understanding"? It is the Presence of Christ which makes us members of Christ : "neither shall they say, Lo here! and Lo there l for the kingdom of God is within us." Others marvel; others try to analyze what it is which does the work; they imagine all manner of human causes, because they cannot see, and do not feel, and will not believe the inward influence; and they impute to some caprice or waywardness of mind, or to the force of novelty, or to some mysterious insidious persuasives, or to some concealed enemy, or to some dark and subtle plotting, and they view with alarm, and they fain would baffle, what is really the keen, vivid, constraining glance of Christ's countenance. “The Lord turned and looked upon Peter ;” and “ as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so also is the Presence of the Son of man.” It is come, it is gone, it has done its work, its abiding work, before men
And what took place in the first years of His Kingdom, when it was brought into being, holds good, in its measure, of all times of the Church; whether before the Law, or under the Law, or in this late and dark age, when Christians have divided into parties, and fight against each other. For on Jacob, as he slept, the Presence of God descended, and when he woke, he said,
Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not;" and he added, as having his mind opened to new thoughts by the manifestation, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, then shall the Lord be my God!." And Moses also asked for this great gift, and obtained it. He said, “See, Thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people, and Thou hast not let me know whom Thou wilt send with me. Yet Thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight. And He said, My Presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto Him, If Thy Presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. . . And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also which thou hast spoken, for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name?." And in like manner the Prophet tells us, with reference to all the people, "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old."
Much more is this personal gift fulfilled in these latter days, which are days of the Gospel, though they be degenerate days. What is described in the text had been foretold in the Prophets. “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to
· Gen. xxyiü. 15—21.
3 Exod. xxxiii. 12–17.
& Isa. lviïi. 9.
bring them out of the land of Egypt; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." And again, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” And the Apostles, after the fulfilment of the promise, in like manner, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things;" “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” And again, “The Spirit Itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."
I said just now, that there are multitudes who neither feel their need, nor believe in the supply; they have never thought upon religious subjects, or they have stupified their conscience by sensuality or by covetous
And I also said, that those whose minds have been roused and opened, perceive their need, or at least feel it, though unconsciously, and if it be not supplied, become restless in consequence. And now I add, and a solemn thought it is, that numbers among ourselves, though we profess the Gospel, are in that restless state, ever seeking, never finding! Look around you, my
1 Jer. xxxi. 31–34. Isa. liv. 13. 1 John ji. 20; v. 10. Rom. viii. 16.
brethren, on every side: what, on the whole, is the religion of England ? it is restlessness. Look round, I say, and answer, why it is that there is so much change, so much strife, so many parties and sects, so many creeds ? because men are unsatisfied and restless ; and why restless, with every one his psalm, his doctrine, his tongue, his revelation, his interpretation ? they are restless because they have not found. Alas! so it is, in this country called Christian, vast numbers have gained little from religion, beyond a thirst after what they have not, a thirst for their true peace, and the fever and restlessness of thirst. It has not yet brought them into the Presence of Christ, in which " is fulness of joy” and “pleasure for evermore.” Had they been fed with the bread of life, and tasted of the honeycomb, their eyes, like Jonathan's, had been enlightened, to acknowledge the Saviour of men; but having no such real apprehension of things unseen, they have still to seek, and are at the mercy of every rumour from without, which purports to bring tidings of Him, and of the place of His abode. “By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth. I sought Him, but I found Him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth ; I sought Him, but I found Him not.” “I sought Him, but I could not find Him; I called Him, but He gave me no answer.
The watchhat went about the city found me; they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.” Mary wept because they
i Cant. üi. 1, 2; v. 6, 7.