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protection and love both for life and death. For although in one point the Psalmist was checked as it were on the very edge of the full Christian revelation; which seems to have been a part of God's dispensation, that the first open revealing of life eternal should be made by Him who purchased it for us by His own blood; yet surely in the words
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” &c., there is a hope of which we may say, that it entereth within the veil. He that sowed, and we who are reaping, may in this hope rejoice together. And if I have said, as I think Christ's word allows us to say, that there are passages in the writings of the old prophets in which the mind of the Spirit who gave them utterance is more truly discerned by us than by them, if the truth of God has to us shaken off some part of the veil which in ancient times disguised its import, and stands before us more nearly in its own perfect nature, yet God forbid that this confession of God's grace to us should lead us to be high-minded, or to think that because of the greater abundance of our revelations, we are nearer to Christ than His holy prophets. If any such feeling does arise within us, let us turn to such Psalms as the twentythird, and our boasting must surely be changed into the deepest humiliation. For of the faith which worketh by love, and which alone justifies, can we dare to think that we have a larger, nay,
that we have in any degree so large a portion, as lived within the heart of the Psalmist? Is bis language of faith too hesitating for our full assurance? Is his devotion too cold for our perfect love ? Alas! alas! is it not rather the very reverse ? that his is the full assurance of faith, the love that casteth out fear; ours the faith as the grain of mustard seed, the love which iniquity has made to wax cold? And then our boasting of superior knowledge may well be changed for fear, when we think of his portion who knew His Lord's will and did it not: and we may remember that it was to those who possessed greater light than had been vouchsafed to the old prophets, that Christ said, " There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves cast out.”
October 4th, 1840.
So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us
to go away into the herd of swine.
The second lesson for this morning's service contained these words, in the account of the cure wrought by our Lord on the two men possessed with devils, on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret. Few parts of the New Testament have been the subject of greater difference of opinion than those which relate to the cases of men possessed with devils ; and in addition to the general difficulties of this question, there are others peculiar to the particular story to which the text belongs. Now the difficult parts of the New Testament require to be touched upon occasionally, or at least once for all, in order to remove that perplexity which might otherwise beset men's
minds in reading them. When I speak of removing perplexity, I by no means use the expression as equivalent to removing the difficulties of this and other similar passages; for a part of the Scripture may be exceedingly difficult, and yet may occasion us no perplexity at all. I mean by perplexity, that state of mind in which we do not know clearly how much can be understood of a part of Scripture, and how much cannot; a state in which we do not know what to do with a passage, what lesson we ought to learn from it, and how far we must be contented to pass it over as a thing sealed beyond our opening. This is a painful state, and an unedifying one; whereas the being conscious of a difficulty which we cannot explain, is not, or ought not to be, either the one or the other. Before a confessed and palpable unconquerable difficulty, the mind, if in a healthy state, reposes as quietly as when in possession of a discovered truth, as quietly and contentedly as we are accustomed to bear that law of our nature, which denies us the power of seeing through all space, or of being exempt from sickness and decay. And thus the clear consciousness of the necessity of ignorance in any given matter has a tranquillizing effect upon us, and allows us to turn ourselves wholly, and with no fond looking back of hope or regret, to those matters which we are equally con
scious may be rendered intelligible to our minds, and therefore in some way or other improving to them.
Our perplexity, then, may be removed as to the parts of Scripture which relate to men possessed with devils, although we may be quite unable to remove the difficulties of the subject. The difficulty consists in this, that of spiritual beings, as we call them, we can have no distinct conceptions. What a spirit is, and how it acts, are questions to which we can give no answers. And therefore when we hear of a man possessed with a spirit, all that we can understand or judge of in the matter is limited to the effects of such possession, whether for good or for evil. When we hear of one possessed by the Spirit of God, we can in no way understand the manner of the Spirit's working, far less perceive it with our bodily senses, but we can see and understand its fruits, and from them judge of the power that wrought them. And so with one possessed by a spirit of evil, nothing is visible, nothing is intelligible to us in the process of its working, save only the evil fruits produced by it; evil whether as relates to the body or the mind; for in both, as God is confessedly the author of all good, though working in some measure by secondary and intelligible causes, so it is no less conceivable that evil spirits may be the authors of all evil, though their working, too, may be through