« AnteriorContinuar »
nourished and enriched its soul, and, in fact, the soul of humanity at large ? To you, my Christian brethren, also, I humbly say-as ye honour your prophets, honour ye likewise the prophets of the East. Thus hostile churches, and the dismembered races of mankind, shall be knit together in one. family in the bonds of universal faith in the common Father, and universal gratitude and esteem towards their elder brothers, the prophets.
The last and highest mode of revelation remains to be described. I have spoken of God in Nature, and then of God in History ; but both these forms, of divine manifestation are external. The one to which I am about to draw your attention is internal and comes home to our hearts, viz., God in the Soul. The striking evidences of the Great Creator's power, wisdom, and goodness, which are stamped. on the whole face of animate and inanimate creation, do indeed exalt the believer's heart to Him; but, far greater is the influence of the lives of greatmen, which, coming with all the moral force of example, animates and bestirs us to a life of wisdom, piety, and righteousness. Nothing, however, can bear comparison with the almighty power of Inspiration—the direct breathing-in of God's spirit—which infuses an altogether new life into the soul, and exalts it above all that is earthly and impure. It is the more powerful, being God's direct and immediate action on the human soul, while the revelation made through physical nature and biography is indirect and mediate. In these latter modes of divine manifestation truth is received at second hand ; God is seen as reflected in a mirror, and often, alas! refracted through its imperfections. Divinity is represented in the world of matter-in flowing brooks and stupendous
mountains, in the radiant sun, the serene moon, and the vast starry convex ; it is also represented in the thrilling, precepts, and the quickening deeds of great men. But in inspiration the Supreme Soul is presented to us in our own finite souls, and His saving light falls directly upon the eye of faith. The spirit of God directly shines upon the soul like the meridian sun, and illumines and warms the entire spiritual nature of man ; it bursts like a resistless flood into the heart, sweeps away ignorance and doubt, impurity and wickedness, and converts even the hard stony heart of a confirmed sinner into a garden smiling in all the luxuriance of spiritual harvests,—of faith, love, and purity. The highest revelation, then, is inspiration, where spirit communes with spirit, face to face, without any mediation whatsoever. The influence of inspiration is absorbing, not partial ; it is not superficial and skin-deep ; but like leaven, it leaveneth the whole life. Its process is not slow and calculating but revolutionary. Inspiration does not deal out particular truths and particular forms of purity to satisfy a few special wants : it altogether converts and regenerates the soul. It does not seek to cat off the spreading branches of corruption ; it destroys the root of evil in the perverted heart, and sows there a new seed of divire life. Its mode of operation differs essentially from those which worldly moralists and reformers prescribe for the eradication of vice, and the improvement of individual and national character. Here we see no appeal to reason or public opinion, no calculation of profit and loss according to the arithmetic of expediency, no reference to consequences. Nor do we find here that slow process of moral discipline and restraint which seeks to school all the lower propensities and
passions into obedience, and place them under the authority of conscience. The vast majority of mankind, whatever their convictions may be, are practically swayed by worldly motives in their social as well as religious pursuits ; utility is the sole guide of their moral life ; they could hardly be persuaded to recognise or practise any duty which involves temporal loss of any kind, and interferes with worldly happiness and interest. Those, however, who really desire to be good, and are sincerely anxious for their reformation, pronounce the doctrine of expediency false and pernicious, recognise conscience as the supreme guide-the vicegerent of God in the human breast-and endeavour to bring all refractory passions and motives, all thoughts, words, and deeds, under its discipline. They go through a systematic process of training and self-control, guarding against every possible evil, curbing down every little sin as it rises, breaking every vicious habit by constant and unwearied conflict, and employing all available means for the government and purification of the heart. They who simply seek deliverance from sin must go through this process of incessant struggle and self-control. But the soul needs more ; it wants some positive vantage-ground of holiness, where it may abide in peace, safe against temptation. It seeks to be not only not worldly, not immoral, but positively holy. It wants godly life, and this can never be had by the most rigid tension of mental discipline, or the highest effort of human will. Divine life can only be secured by divine grace--it comes pouring into the soul from Him who is its source. This is inspiration ; it is the direct action of the Holy Spirit. It is God's free gift, not man's acquisition. It comes not through our calculation
or reasoning, not through our industry or struggle, but through prayerful reliance upon God's mercy, It cannot be purchased by our wisdom or our good works. The Merciful God vouchsafes inspiration unto the heart which panteth after it. Behold the marvellous effects of divine inspiration ! It does not, like human agencies of reform, merely lead the intellect to truth, the heart to love, or the will to practical righteousness ; but it thrills and enlivens the whole spiritual being of man with a sort of holy excitement and frenzy, and carries him by the hair of the head into the very presence of God, and there breathes into him new life. It revolutionizes the very foundations of the old carnal life, and effects a radical reform in the vital mainspring of man's motives, wishes, words, and deeds ; it marks a turningpoint in his history. It kills the “old man,” and kindles his ashes into an altogether new ereature. This is true spiritual Baptism-baptism, not with water, but with fire. We care not to be baptized with the cold water of logical persuasion and the lifeless aye and nay of dogmatic theology ; but we all need to be baptized into new life with the fire of inspiration and enthusiasm. In other words, if we all desire holy life, we must become enthusiastic. Through proper self.culture men have in all ages attained virtue and morality ; but never man became regenerate and godly without the fire of enthusiasm enkindled by the Holy Spirit. The human mind unaided, however great its wisdom and power may be, is no match for the vile passions and lusts of the flesh. When they once rise with all their demoniac fury and frenzy, no convincing' precept of ethics, no amount of human energy can quell them. To this all our experiences with one voice testify. But when the Holy Spirit reinforces
the sinking spirit of man with an influx of divine enthusiasm, the rising surges of unruly passions subside as if under magic power. Only passion can vanquish passion ; and a most formidable and unconquerable passion is enthusiasm. When it rushes with full force into the soul, all carnal passions readily ebb away. Lust, anger, covetousness, envy, and malice ; doubt and despair ; weakness, inconstancy, and hypocrisy ; in fact, all sins of the mind, heart, and the will, retire from the enthusiastic soul, and dare not encroach upon what is consecrated to God, and protected by His Almighty
For enthusiasm is not a faculty or a feeling, but is a pervading passion of life ; it combines in it all that is excellent in wisdom, emotion, and energy, and is a remedy for every form of sin and corruption. It keeps man in a state of holy excitement"; it makes him live in God ; and thus protects him from every thought, word, or deed that is unholy. In enthusiasm duty and desire coalesce, and form a settled principle of life. Man then loves holiness with passionate attachment, and hungers and thirsts after his God. He is seized with the frenzy of devotion, and is not only above sin, but also above temptation ; for nothing is then attractive to him except holiness. Such frenzy, essential as it is to divine life, is but madness in the sight of the world, and must excite ridicule and contempt. One who has reaiized God in his own soul, and has been inspired with enthusiastic love and fidelity towards Him, and who loves only His company and His service, lives in heaven though on earth ; and all that he says and does must be scoffed at :s madness by those who live unregenerate in the flesh ; and though he may say, -"I am not mad, most noble Festus, but