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What is the use of merely knowing, that there is , when I examine whether I am in the faith. I a breastplate, a helmet, a sword, and a shield, by can neither class myself with believers, nor with which a Christian may be able to stand ? What unbelievers. I have not the real peace of the is the use of complimenting their power as great, former, nor the false peace of the latter. The or their polish as splendid, or their device as beau- state of my mind seems something between both. tiful? If you need them, take them; if you ad. Besides, I become fluttered, and confused, and inmire them, put them on. They are not like the timidated, whenever I go far into the question of armor in the Tower of London, hung up to be saving faith." gazed at, or to remind us of the good soldiers You are not singular in all this. Many feel exwhich Christ had in former times. He wants actly as you do on this point. Indeed, all Chrisgood soldiers still; and, as formerly, women” tians, are, at times, more or less embarrassed on amongst them, who will not accept o deliverance” the subject of faith. In general, however, those from the cruel mockings of the world, nor from the who are most jealous and fearful of the genuinescourges of Satan at the expense of a good con- ness of their own faith, have least occasion to be science.
so. Perhaps this is the case with you? I do not throw out this hint, that you may drop the question, nor that you may take for granted the reality
of your own faith in Christ; but that you may sit No. V.
down with composure to examine whether you
be in the faith." VARIETIES, FROM MISTRUST.
Now the weakness of your faith may, perhaps,
arise, in part, from your being somewhat afraid of Is it your desire to glorify God? You know and strong faith. We are not always thinking of confess that it is your duty. There are also some Abraham, when we think of the faith of assurance. ways of glorifying God on earth, which you would They are not often very like him, in character or be glad to try, if you had the means. Were you spirit, who say most about their assurance. In wealthy enough to found a mission in China, where general, those who are most like him in humility the gospel was never fully preached; or in Asia, and holiness, say least about their own faith; and where its golden candlestick has long been ex. even the little they do say, is uttered in the spirit tinguished; or in the yet unvisited wilds and in which Abraham prayed,—"Let not the Lord islands of Africa and the Pacific; would not you be angry, and I will speak.” Thus, between the help to fill the earth with the glory of God? Were “ much speaking” of those who are least humble, you even wealthy enough to relieve (without in- and the almost silence of those who are most jury to yourself) all the real poverty in your neigh-humble, we are in no small danger of becoming borhood, and thus to bring all the poor under the rather suspicious of the tendency of strong faith gospel, would you not count that way of glorifying itself. Whilst we look at it
, and judge of it, in God to be both duty and pleasure ? Or, could Abraham or in Paul, or in the death-song of “such you write a book in favor of the gospel, which an one as Paul the aged,” we feel no more doubt would command as much attention, and take as of its holy tendency, than of its happy influence. strong a hold upon the public mind, as the works In the presence of such examples, we catch ourof Shakspeare or Milton,would you not feel bound selves exclaiming, to trade with that talent at once, and thus to glorify God with your spirit, by pouring all its intel “O for a strong, a lasting faith, lectual wealth and splendor around the cross ?
To credit what th' Almighty saith; Or, were it only signified to you, as to Peter, “by
To trust the merits of His Son, what death you should glorify God,” would you
And call the joys of heaven my own." not prepare for that death with much diligence, that thus your triumph or tranquillity might illustrate and commend the power of faith?
Not thus, however, do we judge or feel, when None of these things, upon this scale, may be professors, remarkable for nothing but talking within your power. There is, however, one way about their experience, speak of their assurance, of glorifying God, which is completely within your and security, and cloudless hopes. Their strong reach, and would remain so, even if you were in faith seems very much akin to presumption. We abject poverty, or had only a weak mind : for God cannot help feeling as if it were both better and condescends to consider himself glorified, by safer, to be weak in faith, than to be strong in their “strong faith.” We learn this pleasing fact, from way of believing. Besides, it is a very general the history of Abraham. “He staggered not at persuasion amongst those whose piety is most exthe promise of God through unbelief; but was emplary, that the faith of assurance is sail, which strong in faith, giving glory unto God.”
very few have ballast enough to carry, or prudence Perhaps you are ready to say,—“I feel as un- to manage well. equal to exercise strong faith, as I am unable to Now, I readily grant that these are facts which bestow much charity. There is nothing so weak ought not to be overlooked, nor allowed to have in my piety, as my faith. I have, at times, strong but little weight on this subject. Caution is, in convictions, strong fears, strong desires ; but strong deed, peculiarly becoming on such a point as sayfaith, I am a stranger to. I can say at any time, ing faith. Yea, it is necessary: for there are with the poor man in the gospels, “ Lord, help thou presumers in the church, as surely as there are mine unbelief :" but I cannot always preface this sceptics in the world. But after honestly weighprayer as he did, by saying, “ Lord, I believe.” ing all these facts, I cannot forget that God and Indeed, I hardly know what to think of myself, I the Lamb deserve strong faith. I frankly confess
that I cannot answer the question-Why should my difficulty is, to believe them in my own case. I have less faith in God than Abraham had? The It is there, that my faith staggers.” God of Abraham is not changed in truth or love. Yes; and well it may stagger, if you thus want What he promises in answer to prayer, under the to be sure of your calling and election, before you gospel, is not less free or faithful than what he venture to believe the glad tidings of the gospel. promised under the Abrahamic covenant. God is You are, indeed, perfectly right in your opinion not a man that he should lie; nor the son of man, that, in general, the promises belong to specific that he should repent. He proved this by fulfil characters, and are adapted and addressed to cerling the great prontise of that covenant. At the tain spiritual states of mind. Of this fact, you fulness of time, he sent forth his Son to redeem ought never to lose sight. Whoever regards a'l the world from the curse of the law, by becoming the promises as made to mankind promiscuously, a curse for them. We ought not, therefore, to be understands neither their excellency nor their de very slow of heart in believing, that he that spar- sign. The greater part of them are, emphatically ed not his own Son, but " gave him up to the death and exclusively, “the children's bread." There for us all,” will also, “ with him, freely give us all are, however, many of them (and these neither things.” This would, indeed, be believing a great weak nor equivocal) the only and express object deal : but still
, not more than God has promised; of which is, to multiply the children of God, or to not more than God is able to perform ; not more win sinners to become the sons and daughters of than he has actually performed to inillions and the Lord Almighty: Yes ; one class of the great myriads, who were as guilty and unworthy as we and precious promises are entirely occupied with
the manifestation of that matchless love which I must, therefore, press and ply you with the God bestows, in order that we may be made his question, Do not God and the Lamb deserve strong children. Nor is this all: the whole of them faith from you? Can you assign any reason, why have it as much for their object to reconcile the you
should stagger at their promise, through un- world unto God, as to endear God to the church. belief, or fear, or suspicion? You certainly can Consider this fact, and remember it. It will not assign nor conceive one reason for doubt, if clear your way, mightily and rapidly, to the point God and the Lamb allow sinners to put as much at which all the promises can be appropriated and faith in their promises now, as they allowed Abra- enjoyed by yourself. What you have now to be. ham to put ; and that, they do both warrant and lieve with a strong faith, is not your own election, command! God does not, indeed, speak so openly adoption, or conversion. You cannot, and ought not, to us as he did to Abraham; but he speaks as to believe these things firmly, until you have more honestly, and even more explicitly. He does not evidence of their truth, in your own experience. call us by name, nor with an audible voice from Strong faith on these points, can only be warrantheaven; but he does better : he puts into our ed by the fruits of faith in your heart and life. But hands the written copy of the everlasting cove- whilst this is true, it is equally true, that even now, nant, ratified by his own oath and the blood of his and as you are, and however you feel, there are Son, pledging all the cternal honor of the God- both great and precious promises which you are head, that whosoever believeth in Christ shall not fully warranted to believe, with all the faith of asperish.
surance. The promise, “Seek, and ye shall find; Now, really this strong assurance from the lips knock, and it shall be opened," belongs as much
and deserves your entire faith, as the proof God, deserves strong faith. For, what could
mise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” he say or do more, in order to warrant implicit belongs to the dearest children of God. What and imperishable faith in his promises? We really more, therefore, would you have, in order to warought to be ashamed, yea shocked, at the bare rant and welcome you to hope in Christ for your idea of placing but little faith in them, seeing they own salvation? God says, “ You shall find,” if are so great, so precious, and so true. Why; if
you seek : "it shall be opened,” if you knock. you cannot trust them, what could you trust ?- Unless, therefore, you want to find without seekWhat could be so satisfactory as the assurance, ing, or to be admitted into the household of faith that it is impossible for God to lie?" This fact, without knocking, your way is as open as promises all history, all experience, all the universe rise up can make it. to attest and confirm. Neither voice nor vision
If this view of the matter do not remove your from heaven, could amount to so much encourage difficulty, you have, in some way, mistaken the . ment as this one fact. I must, therefore, repeat, nature of faith itself
, as well as the character of that strong promises from the God of truth and love, deserve strong faith; nor can we have any weakness of your faith, is, that you tried at first,
strong It may be, that one cause of the good reason for withholding it from them.
to believe more than was necessary at first; and I know quite well what you are now thinking thus by grasping at every thing in the gospel at about. You have been ready to say again and once, you got a firm hold upon nothing. I do not again, whilst reading this essay,—“But how can throw out this hint in the way of reproof at all; I be sure that the promises are meant for me? but just to throw you back upon first principles, They are the children's bread ; and I am not sure and in upon your own recollections. · I know too that I am a child of God. They belong to the well
, (to wonder or blame,) how naturally your penitent, the humble, the hungering and thirsting mind desired all the comforts and securities of the
aiter righteousness; and I am afraid to class my- covenant of grace, when you first saw all your is self amongst them. Besides, I find no difficulty wants and ngers. You then wished to be sure
in believing firmly the truth of the promises them- of your election, sure of your adoption, sure of selyes, or their faithfulness in the case of others: 'your pardon, sure of your acceptance, sure of
your union to Christ, sure of your participation of | resemblance to those who are truly pious. Any the Spirit, and sure of your final perseverance. likeness we bear to the excellent of the earth, You saw your need of all this; and, therefore, helps us to hope that we are not altogether stranyou sought for all this, and tried to believe all the gers to the grace which made them so excellent. promises in which this host of spiritual blessings We see and deplore the sad difference there is beare presented to the church. But your faith was tween them and ourselves, and sometimes feel too weak. You were not able to believe so much discouraged as well as reproved by it, because we for yourself! Can you wonder, now that you can hardly see how we can ever come up to their look at the case in this light? Do you not see, standard: but still, we cling to the fond hope, that that the infant hand of faith cannot grasp so we have something of their spirit, or a spark of much at once? Is it not obvious, that by thus the same grace. We cherish this hope the more trying to lay hold on every thing, it can get no freely, because our conscience bears us witness, sure hold upon any thing? Just suppose, for a that we really desire to be more like the Chrismoment, that, instead of this, you had set yourself tians we admire most, and would be very glad to to believe one point in the gospel, at first. Suppose get over that in which we chiefly differ from them. that point had been the promise, that “whosoever Another thing very encouraging, is, that we shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be can trace some resemblance between their early saved;" or the assurance, that “the blood of experience and our own. Few things, perhaps, Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” Either of please or surprise us more than the discovery, these great truths is quite sufficient to give any that some of the loveliest and most happy Chrissinner a good hope through grace; or at least, to tians had to struggle hard, at first, with many of create hope enough to keep him praying: and the same doubts, fears, and temptations which that (every Christian will tell you) is the best now harass us. This, we did not expect to find kind and degree of hope, eventually. Now, do in the experience of the very holy and happy. you not see how your faith, if it had confined it. We imagined that, from the first, their conversion self at first to the willingness of God and the must have been so complete, as to place them power of Christ to save you, might have soon be above all such conflicts between the flesh and the come strong faith? Consider : the willingness of spirit. We took for granted, that they had never God, and tlie ability of the Lamb, are not doubt- found it difficult to believe, or to hope, or to pray. ful nor dark truths. If any thing be clear or sure, This difficulty we thought peculiar to ourselves. they are unquestionable and resplendent facts. And, as to treachery of heart, weakness of purTheir strong evidence is calculated to produce pose, changeableness of feeling, and floods of vain strong faith. They win the confidence they ask and unholy thoughts, we were almost sure that no for, when they are duly weighed. Well; this is real Christian had ever felt as we did. We heard, the GOSPEL! This is just what a sinner should of course, our pious friends speak of their having believe, when seeking mercy through the blood of had to go through deep and dark waters, and to atonement. His language should be, “God is sustain some heavy burdens: but we did not allow willing, and Christ is able to save even me.” ourselves to suspect that unbelief, or the prevaWhy then should not you go back to this point, lence of a wrong spirit
, or the pressure of tempif, after all your efforts to get higher, you are still tation, entered into their trials. We thought that in doubt as to the reality of your faith? Why not they could only mean, the trial of their faith and try for a time what you can make of believing patience, by afflictions or losses : not by the these two truths ? Until you have strong faith in plagues of the heart, or by the treachery of the them, your faith in every other part of the gospel conscience. must remain very weak.
It was, therefore, no small help to us, when we What ? is it but weak here also ? Do you not found out that “no strange thing had befallen" believe that God is willing to save you! Do you us, in having to struggle so much against fightreally doubt the ability of Christ to deliver you ings without and fears within. We were not, of from the wrath to come? If so-—you must be course, glad that others had hearts as bad as our very unhappy whenever you think of your own own, nor that grace met with much opposition in case. I would not, for worlds, doubt either truth. all hearts : but we were glad to know the fact itMy heart would break, or my reason expire, if I self. I: proved to us, that our case was neither suspected that God was unwilling or Christ unable desperate nor singular: and thus prevented us to save me. But, as they have not said so, I do from giving up all hope and effort, as useless in not suspect the willingness of the Father, nor the our own case. It showed us, that the day of power of the Son. Why should I suspect either, small things ought not to be despised ; seeing it when neither forbid me to hope ? Nothing short had often been followed by years of great things of a prohibition to hope, could warrant despair : in the experience, character, and career of many. and as there are express commands, as well as be We have then been somewhat encouraged by seeching invitations to hope in Christ, despair and discovering, that the beginnings of our piety, had despondency must be as criminal as they are unwise. parallels in the early experience of the best. Did
it ever occur to you, whilst marking this with
pleasure, that just in proportion as you are of No. VI.
one spirit” with the saints on earth, you are of
one spirit" with the saints in heaven also ? If VARIETIES FROM MODESTY.
you have never followed out this sweet thought
for your own encouragement, it is well worth your It is both gratifying and encouraging to be able while to do so now. The fact is fraught and fra. to trace in our own character and spirit, any real grant with strong consolation, to all who are
anxious to be sure that they have been made to real participation in their great principles must drink into one spirit” with the children of God on have sprung from divine teaching. earth: for, if the persuasion that you had done This conclusion is not so easily drawn, and canthis would cheer you, how much more cheering not be so safely drawn, from your resemblance to to discover that your best principles and desires your pious friends on earth. 'I do not say that it are in harmony with the leading principles of the is unsafe to draw it from likeness to them. I have whole family in heaven? You are quite sure that already shown, that it is both useful and encourtheir views and feelings and desires are right. aging to do so at first. It is not, however, the You see at a glance, that they cannot err nor surest ground to go on : for as we do not know mistake. And, do you not see also, that so far as the heart of any man or woman fully, we cannot your spirit resembles theirs, even you are right be absolutely certain that likeness to them is contoo? Consider this. The great principles which version to God. In the case of glorified spirits, prevail in heaven are not natural on earth; do however, there is no room for any hesitation. We not spring up by accident in the human mind; are absolutely sure of their sincerity, simplicity, nor can they be learnt, so as to be loved, by hu- and perfection: and therefore, if we have any
Whoever loves them, has been real fellow-feeling with them, we have real evitaught by the Spirit of God. You have as cer- dence of having passed from death to life. tainly been illuminated and led by him, if you try Is there then any thing in your HUMILITY akin to to think and feel and act towards the Saviour as their humility? They veil their faces before God: the saints in glory do, as these saints have been they fall down before the throne : and even when perfected by the Holy Spirit. Yes; the same they stand around the throne of God and the hand that completed their sanctification, has be- Lamb, they sing of nothing but the wonders of gun your sanctification, if you are trying to enter the grace which brought them to glory. Now into the spirit of heavenly principles.
this, all this, you intend to do when you join their Do not say, on reading this, that neither your company, Like them you will be glad to have principles nor feelings will bear to be tried by a eternity all before you, and the throne all open to heavenly standard. It is not so true as it is plau- you, in order to express, for ever, your adoring sible, that, if some earthly standards of piety make wonder and gratitude, that one so unworthy as you ashamed and even afraid of yourself, compa- and made meet for the inheritance of the saints
yourself should have been put among the children rison with perfect spirits must overwhelm your hopes altogether. This is plausible, but it is not in light. Well; is there any thing of this spirit true. In some things, indeed, it is only too true,
in your humility now? Does your conscience that you bear none of the image, and breathe bear you witness, that you lie low before God in none of the spirit of the family in heaven; and in the dust of self-abasement; that you are ashamed, nothing are you very like them. There is some and pained, and burdened, on account of your sins pride even in your deepest humility: some sloth and short comings; that you can hardly bear to in your most cheerful obedience: and much weak- think of your own vileness and weakness, nor see ness in your strongest faith and love. I neither how you can ever forgive yourself; that you feel forget nor palliate this, in you or myself. We at times as if your heart would break, and your may well hide our heads in the dust, when we soul melt within you, through heaviness and compare ourselves with holy men and women of shame, because of your guilt and ingratitude ? old, even when they were not perfect; and, now This is the humility, in an earthly form, of the that they are holy' as God is holy, or “ without saints in heaven. They, indeed, no longer weep. spot before the throne,” we may well shrink, and nor groan, nor sigh, nor blush, in the presence of that not a little, from all comparison with them. God. His hand has wiped away all tears from Indeed, as to the degree of their holiness, there is their eyes, and his smile banished all pain from no comparison between us and them : it is all their hearts : but this wonderful love has only contrast or dissimilarity.
deepened their humility. The very absence of
all sorrow and sighing, leads their spotless spirits You see clearly, that I am not about to flatter to pour out the fulness of their gratitude, with as or compliment you. As, however, I must tell you much modesty as rapture. Their most breathless plainly that, if you have not the spirit of Christ, pauses of wonder and joy occur, when they reyou are none of his,” I feel equally bound to remember what they were on earth! Thus they mind you, that whatever you have of it, is really are all as fully “clothed with humility,” as with a part of heavenly piety, and as truly likeness to the white robes of righteousness and holiness. the saints above, as it is to the saints below. Now, although the degree of their humility is, Now, I remind you of this fact, because whatever of course, inimitable on earth, the kind of it is not agreement you may be able to trace out between so. To be ashamed and bowed down in spirit by your own spirit and their spirit
, will be more easily the remembrance of sin, is real humility in hea. traced up to the Holy Spirit, than even the points ven and on earth. And, are not you so? O, in which your experience resembles that of Chris- yes, if a sense of guilt and unworthiness lie heavy tians on earth. For, do you not see, that if you on your heart, you have drunk into the same spithink at all, feel at all, desire at all, as saints and rit, which leads all the armies of the redeemed to angels do in heaven, there must have been some prostrate their crowns, and to fall on their faces, heavenly influence shed upon your heart, and some before the eternal throne. And this is not less divine change passed upon your spirit? For as true, if you are chiefly pained and ashamed, beneither saints nor angels have taught you their cause your penitence is not so humble as you feel creed or their emotions, and as you did not begin it ought to be. Your humility would not be geyour piety by trying to copy their example, all I nuine, if you were quite satisfied with its depth.
The best part of it, is your sense of its defects as der, that angels should desire to look into the a whole, and your desire to sink lower in all low-cause of this wonderful consummation? There is liness of mind before God.
nothing like this, amongst all the ongoings or reWell; what do you think now of your own pe sults of visible or invisible things. This is the nitence, after having thus looked at heavenly pe- moral image of God multiplying itself, now that nitence? Of course, you are more ashamed of physical creation has stopped ; and magnifying its imperfections than ever. So you ought. But itself more than another creation could do. O, it still, you are conscious of some fellow-feeling with is not from compulsion, nor in mere obedience to the church of the first-born in heaven. You also law, that angels look into the sufferings of Christ! wish for more of their meek and lowly spirit. It The results of his sacrifice, and of the intercession commends itself to both your judgment and your founded upon it, are for ever telling with such eftaste. Your heart does not rise against it, as fect upon all the moral movements and enjoysomething repulsive or mortifying. You can say ments of all worlds, as to keep the new song for with truth, "Blessed are they that mourn." ever new, and the universe its widening, willing, Wel; what is all this, but proof that you have welcoming temple. It is in gratitude, and from a been taught of God, and thus that you are train- deep sense of unspeakable obligation, and not in ing up for the perfect and eternal humility of compliment nor from custom,—that all angels cry heaven?
aloud, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain." He Another prominent feature of the spirit of is of more worth to thein-than all the glories of heaven, is, the love and gratitude it breathes to creation; than all the wisdom of Providence; than the Saviour. He is, emphatically, “ all in all,” to all the wealth of eternity : for he alone is the all the armies of heaven. The very angels, who brightness of the Father's glory, and the express need no Saviour, desire to look into the sufferings image of his person.” Only in Christ crucified is of Christ, and the glory which shall for ever follow the heart of God fully unveiled ; and as their chief them. Did you ever mark the distinction which happiness must for ever spring from his love, anangels thus make between the sufferings of Christ, gels may well sing, “Worthy the Lamb;" seeing and every thing else they study or admire? Of the Lamb is both the mirror and the miracle, the nothing else is it said, that they "desire" to look alpha and omega, of the paternal love of their · into it. They do look into every thing which the God and our God, of their father and our Father. universe presents to their notice. Their eye Now, how far do you sympathize with them, in ranges the whole array of the works of Creation this preference and pleasure ? How near are you and Providence, and tries, no doubt, to penetrate "come to the innumerable company of angels," in the arcana of both. They are as full of eyes to thus recognising and admiring the Lamb in the discern and enjoy, as heaven itself is full of won- midst” of every thing, and as the glory of all ders. Nothing, however, interests or affects them things ? Mark well both your sentiments and 80 much, as the sufferings of Christ. The Lamb emotions, now that you see all angelic eyes turned “ in the midst of the throne,” is in the midst of to him, and hear all angelic harps tuned to him, every thing to them! In the midst of universal equally as “ to him that sitteth upon the throne !" nature ; for by him were all things created, visible " What think ye of Christ ?"-How do you feel and invisible. In the midst—of universal Provi- toward him? Are you gratified-delighted-stidence; for by him all things are upheld and regu- mulated by the love and allegiance, the homage lated. In the midst of universal government; and gratitude, thus given to the Saviour by all the for he is head over all things; thrones and do- heavenly hosts? If so-you have " drank into minions, principalities, and powers, being subject the same spirit" with them. How else could you to him. In the midst—of universal knowledge; enter into, and participate in, their highest views for “the Lamb is the light” of heaven. In the and holiest feelings ? Nature does not teach midst of universal glory; for he is the source these lessons, even in heaven: who then but the and centre of all the "exceeding and eternal SPIRIT could have taught you on earth? weight of glory.” By looking into his sufferings, Thus, it was not in compliment at all, nor in therefore, angels see every thing else, in its true prophecy merely, that Paul said to believers, “ Ye character and chief design: for the full meaning are come to an innumerable company of angels." of all things, is seen through the "rent veil of He was stating a fact in Christian experience, as his humanity, and only through it. Indeed, apart sober as it is sublime. We “are come” to the from the atonement, the moral order of the imi- same conclusions as angels, in regard to the Godverse is all mystery, and the light of nature all head, the glory, and the grace of the Saviour. darkness, in heaven itself as well as on earth; for We are come” to the same resolution as angels, one thing is for ever going on in heaven, which "to crown him, Lord of all.” We ware come” to neither suns nor systems, laws nor oracles, can the same maxim as angels, to desire to look into explain the peopling of heaven with the recon- the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should ciled and sanctified enemies of God, from the earth. follow. This world is thus the wonder of all worlds; for, This is no accident! This is not one of the what are stars moving in their courses, or suns forms which a refined taste or a powerful imagiwheeling around the magnetic centre of creation, nation can give to the desires of the heart. No, or both flashing their splendors upon the vacant indeed : it is not in this direction, that genius spaces of infinity; compared with immortal spirits, leads, or that mere education can draw the affeconce earthly and unholy, and alienated; but now tions of the soul. The holy Spirit has come near in the image of God, advancing to the throne of both as a teacher and a sanctifier to the soul, that God, and taking a place and a part before it,which comes thus near to the innumerable company of angels themselves might covet? Who can won- angels, in thought and feeling.