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If all prophesy, and 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 fall-
ing down on his face he will worship God, and report that
God is in you of a truth.

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“ To prophesy,” in the language of the Scripture,
is “to speak the words of God,” as opposed to
speaking our own words from our own devices.
It is manifest, therefore, that it admits of very
great degrees, being applicable in a low sense to
the uttering of any word of wisdom or goodness,
inasmuch as all such words are the words of God;
while in its highest sense it applies to Him only to
whom the Spirit was given without measure, and
whose words were in a perfect sense the words of
God. Between this highest sense of the term and

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PERKELE

the lowest, there are other gradations,-according
to the fulness and clearness of the knowledge of
God's will which is enjoyed in each particular
case; but certainly, any minister of Christ speak-
ing out of the Scriptures, and declaring to his
brethren God's will concerning them, may truly be
said to prophesy: the lessons which he delivers
are not his own, but those of God.

Whatever especial revelations then may have
been given to those called prophets in the early
Christian Church, what is said of them and of their
prophesying, is, in the main, applicable to us and
to ours.

The differences between them and us
are not of so much consequence as the resemblance.
Nor are we concerned now with another difference,
although in itself of considerable importance, that
whereas in the church to which St. Paul was
writing, there were many in each congregation who
prophesied; now with us there is only one. What
we have to consider is the nature and effects of
Christian prophecy; whether speaking from an
immediate and particular revelation, or from a
general one already existing and known; whether
it be confined to one, or imparted to many. We
are to consider its nature and effects, such as the
apostle has described them, at once so truly and
so beautifully,—that it convinces,--that it judges,
-that it makes manifest the secrets of the heart; .
and that it at last urges the hearer of it to give

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himself up to God, and acknowledge that what he hears has God's authority.

Such is Christian prophesying ; such it should be made, on the one hand, by those who utter it; on the other, by those who hear it.

First, we see that its nature is practical. Since the world began God has spoken to man for one purpose only, to make him better. Wisdom He has spoken to him: words of divinest wisdom; but they belong to that wisdom only which purifies the heart, and so makes wise unto salvation. But when we say that Christian prophesying is practical, we must take care not to limit the meaning of the word practical, so as to take only half of its proper signification. We must not suppose that there is nothing practical except what is given in the form of a command or rule: “ Thou shalt not kill;" “Honour thy father and mother;" “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;" and other such words. Every thing is practical which is calculated to affect the practice; that most so which is calculated to affect it the most. If then there be a way of addressing us more fitted to affect our hearts and lives than the way of precepts, rules, or commandments, that way may be justly called even still more practical. And it seems that there is such a way: either by putting before us facts tending to awaken hope and fear, or such as address themselves to our affec

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PERKELEY LIBRARY

tions. Not less practical then than the command to love the Lord our God with all our heart, is the truth declared by our Lord, that “in our Father's house are many mansions," and that “ He is gone to prepare a place for us ;" not less practical is His word, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, to the intent that all who believe on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

When I say, then, that Christian prophesying is practical, I do not at all mean that it should consist wholly of rules or precepts; for these are not the only, nor even the most powerful means of affecting the practice; but that, whatever means it makes use of, it should always bear in mind that they are means, and that its end and object is the improvement of the heart and life. Thus it is most highly practical to dwell on the promises of eternal life, and the threats of eternal death; to show on the one hand how much there is to hope, and on the other how much to fear. But it is possible to treat of these things in a manner that shall make them not practical, but curious ; that shall leave on the mind not an impression of hope or of fear, but of amusement or interest offered to the imagination; and then there is a departure from the true character of Christian prophesying, inasmuch as this does not tend to edifying. Or again, nothing can be more practical than to

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dwell on the love of God in Christ, on the most gracious promise that the Holy Spirit should abide with us for ever, that we might not be alone in the world with our own evil thoughts and desires, our temptations, and our tempters. Yet how possible is it to speak of these things in a way that is not practical; to raise questions about the connexion between Christ and the Father, between the Spirit and both : or again, to turn the promise of Christ's abiding Spirit into a source of metaphysical perplexities, into attempts to distinguish between God's work and man's work; whether God's work can be resisted by us or no; whether our own is our own in any way or not. Then, again, there is a departure from Christian prophesying; for questions of words, questions that gender strifes, questions that perplex, that provoke the intellect to reason rather than the heart to love, may indeed have to do with the same subjects with which God's word has to do, but they are not themselves God's word, inasmuch as they do not minister to the edification of God's people; and not being God's word, they are not the true language of Christian prophesying.

Having thus explained what is meant by the word “practical,” a word often used vaguely and in an imperfect sense, we may now follow St. Paul's description of the particular way in which prophesying is made practical; namely, that it

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