Page images
PDF
EPUB

respects be accessory to the growth and developement of this seed; yet it is only an incidental help, and not the necessary mean or instrument of its culti vation for this consists immediately, in obedience to the light or knowledge received; in prostration of the soul before its Maker; in humble aspirations to the Father of Mercies for help, direction, and preservation; in charity to all men; in a life of purity and self-denial; and in true hunger and thirst after righteousness, and further discoveries of the Divine

will.

Third. The influence and operation of this Divine spirit are not always accessible, and waiting upon the creature's pleasure; but only accessible through patience, watching, and prayer: for this influence is frequently withdrawn from the righteous themselves, to prove their faith, allegiance, and necessary dependance upon God alone; and it is withdrawn also from the disobedient, even as an accuser, after they have repeatedly slighted its reproofs and rebelled against its laws.

Fourth. As the rational faculties, or natural powers of the understanding, are always more or less at the command and under the controul of man, and the ratio of increase in the seed of Divine Grace, is not in proportion to the speculative knowledge of Divine Truth, but in proportion to heartfelt obedience and living operative Faith; it follows, demonstratively, that the discursive or argumentative faculty is not the source, discoverer, and framer, by any intellectual

process, synthetic or analytic, of Divine Truth in the soul.

Fifth. This Divine Spirit is the spirit of Christ himself, in all ages the same; and its manifestations are true revelations from above, perceived not by Sense nor by Reason, but by the inward eye of Faith. I shall proceed to consider these truths or propositions in order.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

A Measure of the Divine Spirit is intrusted to every man, and is represented as a seed sown in the heart, humble in its manifestations, and, though small and easily overlooked, capable of increase by cultivation.

We find in Scripture that different terms are used to denote the same principle, as, the "grace" and "gift of God"-" the manifestation of the Spirit""the light of Christ"-" the word of God"-" the Holy Spirit"—" the anointing or divine unction”. "the kingdom of God" in the heart and it is compared, as, in the parables,-to a seed,-to a talent,to a little leaven; each capable of making increase; as, by assimilating to its own nature, like the leaven,——

by gaining an addition, according to the use, like the talent, or by multiplying in a good and fruitful soil, like the seed.

[ocr errors]

The parabolical illustration appears to be varied in order to give a clearer idea of a principle which either in its mode of existence or operation, could scarcely be conceived in any other way than by some outward analogy. The immediate followers themselves, whose minds were then partially enlightened, could not at first apprehend the mysteries of Divine things spiritually. But under every different view the application is so pertinent as to leave no doubt that the same thing is indicated.

It must, however, be obvious that this principlethough of divine origin, and capable of unfolding divine counsel, according to the purity and sincerity of obedience--is not given to man as an irresistible, unvarying impulse, like the instinct of the lower animals, perfect, without any previous instruction, in its operations: nor, on the other hand, is it given as a dark and hidden law, only deducible by abstract reasoning, to a knowledge of which the learned only might claim the privilege of attaining. It therefore differs from instinct, in as much as it acts in a being who has power to shut out its influence or to admit it.

The universality of this Divine Gift is very clearly stated in different passages of Scripture, so as scarcely to admit of the least doubt; as in the following.

"This is the true light," says the Evangelist John, that lighteth every man that cometh into the

world." The apostle of the Gentiles declares also, that "A measure or manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal."+ And further, "The Grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men."‡

The same dignified Apostle, speaking of men generally, says, "That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them."

This principle, as before remarked, is represented under the similitude of a seed sown in the heart. "The kingdom of God is within you"-said Christ himself, not to the Apostles, who, it might perhaps be contended, were already under Divine influence, and therefore made partakers of this seed, but to the Pharisees who rejected him and were filled with malice against him :-" The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. The kingdom of God is within you."

It is plain that it could not be in them as a living operative power, sanctifying the will and affections to the nature of the heavenly kingdom; but as an un, quickened, unprofitable seed that took no root in their stony hearts; as a light to which they would not give heed, and which their darkness and prejudices would not permit them to comprehend;-a free gift which they not only rejected inwardly but outwardly. But if the kingdom of Heaven was, in this sense, in

[ocr errors]

+ 1 Cor. 12. 7.

*John, ch. 1.
§ Rom. 1. 19.

Luke 17. 21,

Titus 2. 11.

the malignant Pharisees, it is to be inferred that the seed of the kingdom of Heaven is sown generally in man. At another time, the Divine author of our religion said to his disciples, "The kingdom of Heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed."* And this declaration is further illustrated by the parable of the sower in which he says, "The seed is the word of God;"+-the Word of God, and the kingdom of God, in this sense, being the same, when the principle or foundation in the soul, from which divine life and immortal felicity spring, is indicated. For this Word, we are told, was sown in different sorts of ground, as in the rocky, by the way side, among thorns, in good ground; comparable to the eager, the careless and superficial, the lukewarm, the worldly minded, the good and honest heart, bringing forth thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold.

The same analogy, differing only as the seed and plant differ from the root and branch, is maintained in that saying of our Lord and Master in which he was speaking of his relation to his disciples; "I am the vine ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered."+

:

Two of the immediate followers of Christ have also alluded to this Divine seed in the heart.

Thus Peter speaks of "Being born not of cor

* Matthew 13. 31.

+ Luke 8. II.

John 15. 5.

« PreviousContinue »