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of studying, as by wilful neological detractions. Of course I speak not of failure through mere infirmity and weakness. If I substitute any thing for it-whether the Fathers, or the Reformers, or Divinity (so called), or religious biography, or hymns, or any thing else—my sin is that of exchanging the Son, and the Father in him, for the thing I so set up: and though I may do it most innocently, as to my intention, and thus plausibility may cover the sin from my mind, the practical effects will be just the same. In the same way if, instead of substituting any of these things for the word, I merely divide its authority with any of them, and have my soul partly subject to and guided by it, and partly by them, then I am (though I may be ignorant of it) adding, of my own invention, to the Son. The sin of any standard or any chart, save the word, is sin against the Son, and against the Father in Him. I shall have to refer again to this, though I leave it for the present, with this remark, that, common as it is to have other standards of judgment besides the word, the sin of so doing is very great, and the evil to ourselves is very great; for it is putting ourselves afar off from God, by the introduction, in our folly, of something between Him and us.
But, besides this rejecting of Jesus for the sake of some beggarly object, moulding us into its own wretched likeness, there is another sin, which is greater and perhaps more common, though less detected, near akin to it. I refer to the substitution of a wrong medium for the one right medium of understanding the word, or the detracting from or adding to this. God has not only addressed his word, which is the testimony of Jesus, to our faith, but he has given to us a teacher and applier of it, even the Holy Ghost. Now, if I take the word as though, in and by itself, it were enough, I dishonour the Spirit. This is what we find has ministered so much to the enemy in the bold Protestant statement, “ The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.” True as this is, if referred to the standard of the saint, it is most untrue, derogatory to the Spirit, and confirmatory of man's pride, if it be understood to mean, as in Protestantism it does, that man can profit from Scripture in himself. I say it does mean this, because I find the medium of understanding which Protestants recognise is “the right of private judgment.”. Nothing has perhaps given the Romanist more power than this ; and the falsehood of it was abundantly proved by the night of Roman Catholic superstition, in which the Scriptures were in the world just what they were before and since, but without power, because not applied by the Spirit. I might add also, by modern Protestant education, in which so much Scripture is taught without effect to children. Surely we ought to read the word and hear the word as trusting in God, and remembering that he alone causeth to profit. But there is a worse form of this evil
, and that is in substituting some other medium of understanding and profiting, either in whole or in part, in the place of the Holy Ghost, searching all things, yea, the deep things of God, and revealing them to our new nature. This often assumes the form of tradition, or a law orally delivered down from the Apostles as explaining what is written, and filling up supposed gaps. It takes the form sometimes of a little help, on subordinate matters, from men that lived in the days of the Apostles, as Clement and Barnabas, or conversed with those that had heard them and knew their ways ; or, perhaps, a reference to the Fathers or Reformers, or men of piety and learning, not as a standard, but SIMPLY as giving the consensus of the Church's opinion. Now, I say, unhesitatingly, that this is a sin (not the sin) direct against the Holy Ghost, and instead of being humility, is pride of the very worst kind; it is trusting to circumstances, supposed to be hallowed, because connected with God, instead of to God himself, and is positive disobedience; so much so, that the man who does it must be wrong. Concede that the water in the spring whence he would draw is quite pure; yet, I say, the water he draws must be filthy, for this vessel in which he draws it is polluted, and the Holy Ghost cannot be insulted in vain. The man that does it will find God's pure manna itself (if such were in the self-chosen vessel) corrupted and full of worms. God may bear with this and even overrule it to good, when merely the result of ignorance; but when it becomes, as it is now commonly becoming, a principle, He will utterly confound it and them that use it. This I believe to be the great danger of Church of England people in the present day; just as the trusting to intellect, education, research, meditation, reading, exercise in pulpit ministrations and composition, and the stores so produced, is the evil of dissent. Both alike, either in whole or in part, by so doing, dishonour the Holy Ghost; and I do feel that this simple question may realise the extent to which this evil is carried, if fairly answered, " Where are the men who are, in preaching, depending simply and entirely upon the Holy Spirit to bring to their remembrance
, and enable them to give forth, Scripture appropriate to the occasion, and trusting to Him to use it or not as he pleases ?” In the face of the old motto, “ Bonus tex. tuarius, bonus theologus," I must say, that I do not know one of the many good textuarians who has any thing like a large understanding of the divine word. To admit any power of understanding as the mind of Christ, or any interpreter
, applier, or helper, either to ourselves for individual profit, or as ministering to others, is the sin of putting that which we so admit between ourselves and God, in the place of the Holy Ghost. The extent to which this leaven or canker is working is fearful: and it is just the way, I judge, in which those who have escaped a little
way out of evil are likely to be snared, even by the most natural desire to have some little store, some little stock, some little fictitious aid and help, by which to hide from themselves their absolute and immediate dependence upon God, and to hinder themselves being ashamed, when, perhaps, in their self-formed routine of duties, the Spirit does not give energy to fill up the whole circle. When there were few to hear, they began, perhaps, to form their present circle by testimony, the result of leaning on the Spirit. It told on sou and consciences; but now the circle is formed around, the flesh, which had no or little inducement before, will argue and plead for itself and its feelings. I would add, that reference to ANY standard of faith save Scripture, or to any teacher of it save the Spirit, fare not questions merely of superstructure or concerning the development of faith in conduct, but questions, if rightly understood, of individual salvation ; questions between my own soul and its standing before God ; questions entirely subversive of the Church's standing. I need not say, I do not speak against the saints' learning from the living teachers whose gifts, received from the Spirit, He may use for their profit.
Abundant confirmation of the individual responsibility of each believer's profiting from the testimony of Jesus in the Word, by the good hand of the Spirit, is found in the second parable of Mat. xxv. According to that similitude of the kingdom of Heaven, we find the Lord, when departing, making a deposit of his own riches his servants ; talents to every man according to his several ability. And they that profit from them, and are commended for the fruit of increase, are those who retained them not in their own hands, but traded upon them; while the manner of their trading appears in the condemnation which the Lord, when returned, passes upon him who had retained his talent just as it was :- -“ Thou oughtest to have put my money to the exchangers; and then, at my coming, I should have received mine own with usury:
To trust, in the confidence of love, the deposit to another, is wisdom to faith, though folly to flesh and sense. I would merely remark, that these talents are not (as men speak) time and intellectual power, and other gifts of nature; but they are of the Lord's riches, left when He went : not spiritual gifts even, but Christ's deposit to the Church when He went; even the testimony of the heavenly calling, with its finished sacrifice and sweet incense of Jesus ; the resurrection-life in the Spirit, and all the multiform privileges and hopes given to us. That the exchangers are Him in whom we have believed, and the Spirit (His vicar), I have no question ; while the analogy of faith and the measure of the Spirit dealt to every man severally as he wills, brings in to each individual the limits of his responsibility before God.
As the economy of the dispensation is Jesus, absent upon the Father's throne (though the Spirit is present in His place), faith, and not sight, is in exercise ;
and hence, though Christ in his own person is alone, beside the Spirit, between our souls and God,* the word of the Lord, as the testimony to Him, comes in. It may be well just to quote a few passages, in proof of the place in which, through grace, the word instrumentally stands :-" The seed is the Word of God” (Luke viü. 11); “Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever...... and this is the word which by the Gospel is
* It surely ought to fill our souls with rapture that no angel, or seraph, or cherub, or principality, or power, stands between us and God. The church is above them all-in Jesus, and nothing between her and God: nothing even between her and the Father, save the Son and the Spirit.
preached unto you” (1 Pet. i. 23-25); “Exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. i. 4); 4. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy Word is truth” (John xvii. 17); " As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. ii. 2); &c.* I need hardly add, that to us there is no word of the Lord besides Scripture. How blessed, under these circumstances, is 2 Tim. iii. 14, 15, and the assertion which follows of their sufficiency, “ THAT THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE PERFECT, THROUGHLY FURNISHED UNTO ALL GOOD WORKS.
Having seen, thus briefly, “ the order” of the formation of discipleship in other words, what gave form to the present witness), we are the better prepared to consider the nature, character, power, and sphere of the saint's testimony thence resulting. These I may look at severally and successively. And first as to the nature of the testimony: Our Lord says (Mat. v. 14—16), “ Ye are the light of the world...... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.” In a day like the present, when eloquence and oratory are at a high price, and many have itching ears, such passages as this ought to be much pressed upon the saint's attention. Many, I believe, consider there is no other or no equally important means of testimony, as preuching: Preaching the Gospel, surely, has its place (and that a very important one) in forming the Church ; and is, at all times, a sweet smelling savour, both in them that are saved and in them that are lost. So teaching, for the building up of the saints, has its place; and that more humble testimony, too, by word of mouth, of those who have no gifts to preach or teach publicly (of which we have so little), which is based upon such principles as these :" Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another ;" "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh ;" “ We believed, therefore have we spoken;" &c. Let all these things have their place, yet let us remember that the testimony God looks for from us is WORKS; good works; such works as have the savour about them of victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil, through faith and the Holy Ghost, so as to be the confession in themselves, before men, of our own subjection to, and fellowship in active obedience with God. What works do I mean? Let any one that asks the question search the New Testament, the epistles especially; and above all, take heed to what accompanies our Lord's “ I know thy works,” seven times repeated in His addresses to the seven churches in the second and third chapters of Revelation. At present I shall say no more upon this, though, if God permit, at some future time I would gladly go a little more into detail. The chief characteristic of the saint's testimony, as it strikes me,
is 6 REALITY." I see no such thing in the present dispensation as testimony for testimony's sake, whether our testimony be of preaching or of conduct. The simplicity of Paul's conduct all through his course of preaching and teaching, accommodating himself to the circumstances in which he found himself, as far as possible, is just a proof of what I mean. To him God had committed a dispensation of the Gospel ; the ministry of reconciliation was also in his heart ; and all through his course, we find with what deep wisdom, yet artless simplicity, he endeavored to win souls; and more than this, to cause the sweet smelling savour to be found everywhere. How different a thing this guiding of the mind and heart, and foot and tongue,” under responsibility, and loving service to God and to souls, from preaching for preaching's sake; whether a cause on earth, honour among men, or the pleasure of hearing oneself, or abstract propriety, were at the root of it. I see, too, all through his course, a quickness to discover, and a readiness to adopt, expedients suited to emergencies, which tell how deeply the matter was upon his soul. Such an imme. diate bearing, too, upon conscience; such a meeting of passing circumstances and necessities, with such an absence of system and theorising, though withal the most undeviating closeness to the fulness of truth, as speaks volumes. His testimony seems just the simple expression of that mind of Christ which he had, taught by the
* No one who has not had attention called particularly to it, can be aware how systematically the word is presented, in every part of the New Testament, as God's great instrument with and for the saint. Alas ! how systematically it is neglected! There are two little tracts on this subject: “The Connexion between Jesus, the Bible, and our Faith,” and, " Faith's Estimate of the Word” (1, Warwick Square).
Spirit, in all the truth of God, upon the scenes through which he passed, whether in the world or the Church : and this is what I call reality. In the same way, the saint's testimony in works and moral conduct, it is all to be without hypocrisy, a real thing. Perhaps few of us know to what extent the hypocrisy of nature inclines us to adopt opinions, actions, and the appearances of moral conduct, because some beloved friend or teacher holds them to be right; but in such cases, I believe we shall always find that “man” (and not God, the Father of Jesus) is present to our minds, when these things come before us. Individual responsibility to God our Father ought to lead us to search His word, and there to get, upon His authority (through whatever channel first suggested to us), that which we hold to be truth : otherwise, we have many notions and opinions, but little truth as of God's word in us; and though the former may puff up, the latter alone has strength in it.
Though the assumption of the appearances of moral character, as of humility, love, &c., beyond what we really possess, strikes man's mind more forcibly as hypocrisy, I believe it is not, before God, more so than in the assumption of works for works' sake, independent of, and apart from, that which ought to produce them. The spring of all moral character, and of every work by which it may express itself (according to surrounding circumstances), is in the fact that God has presented to each saint, with open face, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord-changing him into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. God forbid that I should draw men's minds off from service and works, to the wretched, miserable system of tracing the suitability of cause and effect : that is not what I want, but that we each may learn to walk with God, to walk before God, the living God himself, more, and less in the power of the thoughts and actions of men around us. Washed in the blood, accepted in the beloved, made a king and a priest, each saint is left in the blessing of being part of the true vine, receiving of his sap under the eye of “my Father” as the husbandman. In the vine, abiding in Him, they can alone receive sap and bear fruit, and they bear it to the husbandman.* Of course I do not mean to sanction any fleshly independence toward brethren in Christ, but merely that we should watch ourselves, to be ever with God our Father more present to us than man, however highly gifted or endowed he be. When this is not the case, crude abstract notions fill the mind; the measure of faith which God has dealt to us, and our relative place in the body of Christ, are forgotten; and instead of the blessed, humble, peaceful walk with God, failure ensues. O that we were more simple! Assuming to be nothing which we really are not before God, but happily walking with Him each in his own measure of faith and place in the body, with true humility
for what we come short in, and with perfect trust in Him who giveth more grace. From this character of reality, I believe our testimony to be properly positive, not negative; the display of light, known and enjoyed light, not the testimony against evil. That light cannot shine in darkness without making it manifest is plain ; yet the saint will find the result to himself and others to be very different, whether he testifies against evil by a full and bright display of light, going even right home to the conscience of those in evil, or testifies against evil simply in itself. In the present day especially, the flesh of some of us is too ready to assume that the things we were ignoruntly doing, perhaps last year, others are wilfully, against light, now doing. Of the vast extent of the prevalency of general and indirect light, and of the absence of clear and definite light, in the present generation, few are aware. The prophets, our Lord, and the apostles (though we do not range with them), never, I believe, gave testimony against what was the result simply of ignorance.
The power of testimony, whether of word or life, will be found to be in patience, faith, and the Holy Ghost. Patience will wait upon its object, faith bring in God, and the Holy Ghost both give power in testimony, and seal and confirm it when given. Power and influence, though connected together naturally enough, are two very different things; and unless kept most distinct in our minds, will lead to much evil. Power, as of patience, faith, and the Holy Ghost, will always tend to give a
* This should make us very jealous against receiving any one's notions or views of truth: if the word comes in power, it comes as the word of God, and the preacher or teacher is forgotten, save as a channel: if it comes in weakness, the feeling left upon our mind is nots “That's true''"That's God's truth"-" How wonderful God's word is l" &c.; but something about the man that taught us has the pre-eminence.
saint influence; but influence will not give him power save in the flesh, for it sets up the man and not God. I believe a saint, rightly taught of God and led by the Spirit, would both desire, possess, and exercise power. Standing before God in the full discernment, by the spiritual mind, of all things around him, he has power
with them if of God, and power over them if against God. The way that he does this, and the measure of the extent to which he does it, is by keeping self out of the way, and God's object in the glory of the holy child Jesus, paramount. If any one says this is influence, I say this is not the common sense of the term, nor the correct application of it ; for my influence, and the power of the Holy Ghost in me through faith, are evidently two different things. Influence, as men speak, may be the result of this : THE power may be gone, but men who saw it in exercise will recognise me as some one, and bend before me because, it may be, they bent before the
presence of the power of God with me, lately. Most natural to fallen nature, in the Church or out of it, both to give such honour, and to use the influence over those that give it. But of nothing should a saint be more jealous than of the use of such influence; for if he use it, self, and not God, is brought in. If God has gifted me (I speak as a man) with power, and any one who has proved that God is with me, comes to me, what shall I do? Use my influence over him? or, by the power I may have, place him nakedly before God in a full apprehension of the divine mind upon his position, and the happy thought that God, his Father, is making his way clear ? Surely, the latter.
There is much truth in the saying, “ The world gets out of the way of a rising man.” Human nature feels its dependence, and loves headship; and any man who has effrontery enough to take a headship, will be sure to find many glad to take refuge under it, and blind enough to remain there. Power, as of patience, faith, and the Holy Ghost, tends to give a man the appearance of this very often; for they prostrate self within and man and circumstances around, and leave him acting for and with God and Christ, in the power of the Spirit. Blessed would it be were there more of this : but imitative religion will come in and copy the outside show of this, and assume for self the place which faith in the other had given to God. This may seem to do very well a while; but its failure is most certain in the end. man may get up his sermons, and seem to have a much fuller body of matter and wisdom than he who walks in reliance upon the Spirit of God; but sooner or later the broken cistern of man's making will be found dry, while the living spring flows daily more and more freely. Influence will gather men into my wake, leading them all, without reference to their measure of faith, or teaching of the Holy Ghost to them, to adopt and walk in my notions and ways; and it gives me a place in their minds. Power will gather men, through me, round Jesus, leaving each of them in happy liberty to walk before God after His dear Son; and it will keep me distinct in their minds from the measure of grace and truth they may see to be in me. The distinction is a very important one. The exercise of power will generally be accompanied with the sense of weakness; for, with a saint, it supposes God present, and the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should trust, not in ourselves, but in Him that raised the dead. The exercise of influence, however, on the other hand, will have with it the sense of strength; for it is the application of what (to sense) we possess. When decline comes on in religion, instead of power we find influence had recourse to; first, perhaps, influence as resulting from former power through patience and the possession of faith and the Holy Ghost; then, perhaps, influence of a lower character, as for spirituality, wisdom, devotedness, moral character; our standing in the Church or the world, or the possession of any of the circumstances connected therewith. This bearing upon men, in whole or in part, apart from their responsibility to, and standing before God, has been just the way in which Satan has marred reformations since the apostasy. Let us look to it if we have been indeed labouring to reform, and set ourselves right, and so shew unto others a more excellent way, that it be not so with us.
As to the sphere of our testimony, we must ever remember that its bourns are not either the saints around us or the world. God has said concerning us, that the blessings which He has given, were given (Eph. iii. 10), “ to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.”
Now I get here, just as in the fact that the Father is the husbandman, a specta
Just as a