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tures ascribe to the "sanctification of the Spirit, and the belief of the truth,"— spreading itself over every faculty and passion of the soul, insinuating into the most retired springs of thought and feeling, and moulding every external act and habit. It follows, then, that to be thus felt and exemplified, the truth must first be known. And that piety may be of a superior order, the perception of the truth must be proportionately clear, and the sense of it proportionately vivid.
The foundation of piety, then, must be laid in the knowledge of the truth; and the more accurately every fact, doctrine, precept, exhortation, promise, invitation, and warning of Scripture is transferred to the mind, and kept in due relation and dependence, the more confidently may it be expected that all the elements of true piety will be there, and in true proportion and harmony. The want of a single truth, or its being seen in an exaggerated form, or in a wrong connection, could not but be prejudicial, but the truth must also be believed. Knowledge must ripen into deep and solemn conviction, so that the things with which it is conversant may be regarded as so many momentous verities, stamped with the Divine authority, and designed to have rule in the mind as the sole and awful guides of faith, motive, and action. And next, the truth must be felt; the emotions must ever wait on faith, and swell or subside, be joyous or sad, take the form of hope or fear, love or aversion, sublimest awe or tranquil delight, according to the character of the objects which faith contemplates. A mind largely furnished with the truth, but void of emotion-familiar with the most inspiring topics, yet frozen with apathy, would be a fearful phenomenon. And thus felt, the truth would gradually mould the soul to its own likeness, presiding alike in the understanding and the affections, controlling every moment of time, and directing every faculty and possession to the worthiest employment and end.
And it is this establishment of the dominion of the truth over the soul which is required for the thorough and vigorous renovation of the Ministry. The truth must fully possess and irradiate the mind of every one whose office it is to illumine the minds of others. In proportion as he knows it but partially, or holds it disjoined from its proper connections, he will present it to others maimed or distorted. He can be like the faultless mirror, reflecting it in all its completeness and symmetry, only by having the fair and vivid impression of it in his own mind. And his faith in it must be suited to its own nature strong and implicit, for it is the voice of God; cordial, for it demands his belief only that it may bless him. He must not dispute with the highest authority; he must not repel infinite goodness. Once known, the truth is thenceforth to be treasured up in his mind as the compendium of principles never to bę forgotten or departed from in any future purpose or act.
And thus believing and holding it fast, what should he not feel? Opening his mind to its genuine influences, he need not envy angels their station and bliss, nor ask any addition to his inheritance. Seeing in God the most gracious and merciful, as well as the purest and most awful of Beings,that his favour is an inexhaustible spring of joy, and his glory the noblest end for which the creature can live-that his provision of atonement and sanctifying influence is tenderly urged on all and every impediment to the restoration of the most guilty—that it has already proved its efficacy in numberless instances, and brought glory to its Author, and salvation to men—that it is still upheld by the same
merciful appointment, and has lost none of its healing virtue-and that, as for himself
, he has only to subject his own spirit to its benignant operation, and then, having felt its power to transform and bless, be instrumental in its winning new trophies in the healing of others—he feels that to have been born to the knowledge of such a Being, and to live under his rule, place all honour and happiness within his reach, and leave him nothing to do but to wonder, adore, and obey. What gratitude to the Father--what love and submission to the Son-what reliance on the Spirit--what contrition for the past and hope for the futurewhat resolution against sin-what aspiration after holiness-what benevolence to men-what
of devotedness, may then be expected to rise up within him! Is this visionary? Is it not rather the simple effect of the truth believed and felt ? - And that it
be thus felt, the truth should be dwelt upon and pondered till the mind kindles in its presence. Who has not felt, in some favoured hours of clear and vivid perception, when the grand verities of the Christian faith have been steadily kept in view and reflected upon, his sensibilities quickened into strong emotion, and wondered that he has not always been so affected ? In seasons of comparative apathy, those solemn verities were not so distinctly present to the mind, nor so intently meditated upon; and for constantly refreshing the sensibilities, and supplying the mind with those impulses necessary to sustain it at an elevated pitch, and to confirm it in holy habits, the whole domain of truth must come under frequent review, and the rapid glances of the mind be ever recurring to those grand portions of it which are the prime stimulus of all holy emotion and effort.
And such a clearer perception and stronger feeling of the truth would have the happiest effect on the spirit, life, and labours of the minister of Christ. The truth, in its living and sanctifying power, would pervade them all. How pure, elevated, and unearthly would be his views and aims! Beholding God, himself, his office, and the highest interes's of men in the light of Scripture, he would cleave to the Being whom he saw to be so great and glorious, live in habitual communion with him, and feel that, whatever the choice and occupation of others, his own work is exclusively conversant with the Divine glory and human salvation that he is to realize in himself the utmost power of the truth to ennoble and sanctify, and to give it a living existence in the breasts of others, and that for anything foreign from this he must not have a single moment or sympathy. Wealth must not tempt him-pleasure must not lure him-grandeur must not dazzle him; nay, the delights of literature and science—his greatest temptation--must be tasted only in jealous subserviency to his appropriate work. God, in his unutterable awfulness and glory—the soul, in its immortality and accountableness_eternity, with its solemn and unalterable decisions, would be continually before him; and, in their presence, he would feel that time is momentary, its most solid advantages but fleeting shadows, and that he must make haste to fill his narrow span of opportunity with the largest measure of exertion and sacrifice. And hence, how would he be sequestered from every other object, and his most retired hours, on which none but Omniscience looks, bear witness that nothing can disengage him from the devotion and studies which shall most richly furnish him as the servant of God and men !
And when he went forth among his flock, what would be the impression of his intercourse ? Whatever they had heard and known of the truth before, they would not fail to see it delineated then; for it would live and breathe in his every word and act. They could not mistake either his spirit or his purpose. They would feel that he sought their highest good; that nothing within the widest range of earthly prosperity could satisfy his solicitude for them; that he was intent on their gaining an imperishable treasure; and that whatever human benevolence and effort could do for conducting them to it, he was ready to perform with the eagerness and joy of one who coveted only their salvation. He would converse, and counsel, and pray with the grace and unction which only an ever-present and urgent sense of eternal things can give; and when he had taken his departure, they would be constrained to say—“That is a servant of God!" Had they mines of wealth, what could they offer to the disinterestedness of a man who sought not theirs, but them ? or how enrich one who already felt that he possessed everything in the favour of God, and the means of doing his will ? Could they entertain him ever so sumptuously, or feast his sense of the beautiful with the most tasteful specimens of form, or regale his ear with harmony, and his intellect with all the pleasures of knowledge, how could he answer for it to God and his own heart, when he remembered in his privacy that he had lost an opportunity of promoting their eternal interests? They would feel that his “conversation was in heaven,” and that frequent contact with him must elevate them to the same sphere.
And what would be his coming forth into the public assembly? Fresh from communion with God and intense meditation on divine things, humble, solemn, and full of faith, the depositary of truths instinct with energy to rouse the careless, or breathing mercy for the contrite, thinking of death, judgment, and eternity, he sees in that assembly only a concourse of immortal spirits whom he may save or edify, and in the passing hour an opportunity for it which may never be repeated. He, therefore, ministers accordingly-leaning on Omnipotence, while yearning for men. Who is not impressed ? Those prayers are not the eloquence of words, but the utterance of a tender and believing spirit which feels that God is nigh. And when he delivers his message, it is not the profundity of his thoughts, the brilliance of his imagination, the elegance of his diction, the gracefulness of his gesture which arrest attention, but that simple, pungent, and irresistible style of address which nothing but a soul on fire for God can create. It is the weighty sentiments, the language, the tones, the manner of a man eminently in earnest, who has felt the truth and power of what he utters in the deliverance which he himself has found, and who has lost all fear of men in the strength of his love for them, and the depth of his reverence for God. They who know him bear testimony that his instructions there are well sustained by his spirit and deportment in every other place, and hear with the happy advantage of veneration for his exalted piety. They who know him not are struck with all the signs of profound sincerity, and cannot be unmoved.
And when he had the opportunity of converse with a brother minister, what would be their theme? Their lips would not be sealed on the service in which they professedly " live, and move, and have their being;" but the joy of success, or the sadness of disappointment, sympathy with each other's trials, and the mutual unbosoming of “the inward man," the acknowledgement of God in prayer or mutual encouragement to new devotedness and effort, would mark their intercourse, and each separate from the other with the happy feeling of having been refreshed by it for new labours.
And the infusion of such a spirit into the ministry at large would unquestionably be a revival of the most auspicious kind. In some, it would be little less than “life from the dead;" and the majority, in whom confessedly there is life, it would raise to the vitality and strength of those distinguished few whose names are associated with the conversion and spiritual prosperity of numbers. It is already extensively felt that the ministry is not what it should be; and among the suggestions for rendering it more efficient, it has been recommended that it should possess a higher mental culture, and be more amply enriched with profound and various learning. This is well, so far as it goes. A mind thoroughly disciplined, and stored with acquisitions from every part of the field of knowledge, human and divine, must be much better qualified for acting beneficially on others than one of scantier resources, supposing it to be equally well sustained by religious principle. And it would be unjust to the character of the present times, as one of increasing knowledge and enterprise, not to aim at securing the ablest as well as the holiest ministry. But were the question asked, which would be of the most cheering omen—that the ministry should be suddenly gifted with all the tongues, literature, and science within human attainment, without any invigoration of its piety; or that it should be revived in piety alone, without any addition to its intellectual stores; no reflecting mind could for a moment hesitate to answer in favour of the latter. There is nothing in an increase of secular knowledge, as such, to stimulate a languid piety, or to guide itself to the hallowed ends for which alone knowledge is chiefly valuable. But healthy piety not only urges
possessor to the worthiest and most vigorous application of his mental resources, but supplies a motive for their increase, because it sees them in the light of a powerful auxiliary. The eminently pious minister sees more clearly, and feels more strongly, and uses his powers with more dexterity and decision, in regard to his appropriate work, than one who, though his superior in intellectual strength and accomplishments, is not to be compared with him in piety. There are seasons, it is presumed, in which most ministers experience the truth of this. In those moments of solemn tenderness, when dissatisfied with all that they have ever done, they aspire to better things, do they not feel that what they chiefly need is the reanimation of their faith, love, and zeal, and that this would serve their purpose unspeakably more than any enlargement of their mental wealth? A mind of exalted capacities, improved by study and enriched with all its acquisitions, and these directed by an enlightened, earnest, and straightforward piety, is an instrumentality for the service of God which cannot be too highly prized. Would that the blessing were extensively possessed! But such a mind, wanting the baptism of a thorough consecration to God, has often gone astray, or wasted its powers in comparative indolence. It is wiser, therefore, to seek for the ministry a renovated piety. This will not only ensure the best application of its existing resources, but prompt to their cultivation and increase.
THE SACRED WELLS.
Whilst meditating on the variety and adaptation of those means of grace which God has mercifully appointed for the spiritual edification of his people, my mind unconsciously fell into a kind of reverie, and as nearly as I can recollect, the following are the scenes which presented themselves to my imagination:
I thought I saw a great multitude of travellers, of various ages, stations, climes, and countries, proceeding onward, under one glorious Leader. Oh! his countenance is divine; he is to look upon,
like unto he is the Son of God. He resembles a kind shepherd, who gathers the lambs with his arms, who carries them in his bosom, and who gently leads those which are with young. I see the travellers refreshed by the way. Some I see with a golden cup of unspeakable worth and beauty in their hand. Suffer me to state the inscription it bears. It is "the cup
of salvation.” I hear them saying one to another, “We will take the of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” As they pass along they animate each other, while they say and sing—“We will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. O Lord! we are thy servants, we are thy servants. We will offer to thee sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call on the name of the Lord.”—Psalm cxvi.
Not far distant from these travellers I see another group journeying to the same country, and under the same Leader; they are standing under the covert of the most verdant, fragrant, and luxuriant tree, which the
eyes of men or of angels ever beheld—it is the Tree of Life. Beside that tree, I saw a variety of sacred wells, and the holy travellers drawing water out of these spiritual fountains. They are the wells of salvation, the ordinances of divine appointment. One man I saw, who a little time ago was scarcely able to move along, he appeared so infirm and feeble. He proceeded, and drank of the fountains, and he immediately seemed like a man refreshed with wine; he leaped like a hart, and then, to my surprise, he ran onward in his course, singing as he went, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, which is in Christ Jesus.”—Philip. iii. 14.
Another stepped forward to the sacred wells, bathed in tears, weeping as he went, and uttering the following expressions—“Oh! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” He tasted the waters—tears of grief were exchanged for tears of joy, and sighs for notes of praise. When he drank the waters, he exclaimed in a moment, “ Thanks be to God! I see how I shall be effectually delivered from the body of this death, this heavy oppressive weight of corruption; thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ my Lord.”—Rom. vii. 24, 25.
Another who drew near the fountain found he was welcome to draw water, and that the wells were provided by the heavenly King, for the benefit of those who are travelling toward his celestial dominions. This man was clad in mourning apparel, and he was oppressed with anguish. He had lost an only son; he had just come from the grave, the dark and silent tomb, where he had interred the lifeless remains of his dear child. This bereaved parent put the water to his lips—ohl he found it sweet and refreshing to his taste, and as he drank, it seemed sweeter and sweeter. A glow of heavenly joy spread itself over his afflicted beart,