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doctrine, find those words fulfilled in him which that gracious SAVIOUR uttered, And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me?" He cannot choose but believe in Him. He says,
O LORD, Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed."
Here then, I sày, he surely possesses an evidence perfectly distinct from the authority of superiors and teachers; like St. Paul, he is in one way not taught of men, “but by the revelation of JESUS CHRISTO' Others have but bid him look within, and pray for God's grace to be enabled to know himself; and the more he understands his own heart, the more are the Gospel doctrines recommended to his reason. He is assured that Christ does not speak of HIMSELF, but that His word is from God. He is ready, with the Samaritan woman, to say to all around him, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did : is not this the CHRIST?.” Or, again, in the words which the Samaritans of the same city used to the woman after conversing with Christ; “ Now we believe, not because of thy saying” (not merely on the authority of friends and relatives); "for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
The Bible, then, seems to say, “ God is not a hard master to require belief, without affording grounds for believing; only follow your own sense of right, and you will gain from that very obedience to your MAKER, which natural conscience enjoins, a conviction of the truth and power of that REDEEMER whom a supernatural message has revealed; do but examine your thoughts and doings; do but attempt what you know to be God's will, and you will most assuredly be led on into all the truth : you will recognize the force, meaning, and awful graciousness of the Gospel Creed; you will bear witness to the truth of one doctrine, by your own past experience of yourselves ; of another, by seeing that it is suited to your necessity; of a third, by finding it fulfilled upon your obeying it. As the prophet says, “ Bring ye” your offering “ into mine house,” saith the LORD, “and prove Me now herewith, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it®.”
6 Gal. i. 12.
7 John iv. 29.
8 Mal. iii. 10.
My brethren, it is always reasonable to insist upon these subjects; but it is peculiarly so in times when a spirit of presumptuous doubting is in many places abroad. As many of us as live in the world must expect to hear our faith despised, and our conscientious obedience ridiculed; we must expect to be taunted and scorned by those who find it much easier to attack another's creed than to state their own. A little learning is a dangerous thing. When men think they know more than others, they often talk for the sake of talking, or to show their ability (as they think), their shrewdness, and depth; and they speak lightly of the All-Holy God, to gratify their empty self-conceit and vanity. And often it answers no purpose to dispute with such persons; for not having been trained up to obey their conscience, to restrain their passions, and examine their hearts, they will assent to nothing you can say; they will be questioning and arguing about every thing; they have no common ground with you, and when they talk of religion they are like blind persons talking of colours. If you urge how great a gift it is to be at peace with God, or of the arduousness and yet desirableness of perfection, or the beauty of saintliness, or the dangerousness of the world, or the blessedness of self-control, or the glory of virginity, or the answers which God gives to prayer, or the marvellousness and almost miraculousness of His providences, or the comfort of religion in affliction, or the strength given you over your passions in the Most Holy Sacrament, such persons understand you not at all. They will laugh, they will scoff, at best they will wonder: any how what you say is no evidence to them. You cannot convince them, because you differ from them in first principles; it is not that they start from the same point as you, and afterwards strike off in some wayward direction ; but their course is altogether distinct, they have no point in common with you. For such persons then you can only pray; God alone can bring down pride, self-conceit, an arrogant spirit, a presumptuous temper; God alone can dissipate prejudice ; God alone can overcome flesh and blood. Useful as argument may be for converting a man, in such cases God seldom condescends to employ it. Yet, let not such vain or ignorant reasoners convert you to unbelief in great matter or little ; let them not persuade you, that your faith is built on the mere teaching of fallible men; do not you be ridiculed out of your confidence and hope in Christ. You may, if you will, have an inward witness arising from obedience ; and though you cannot make them see it, you can see it yourselves, which is the great thing; and it will be quite sufficient, with God's blessing, to keep you stedfast in the way of life.
Lastly, let me remark how dangerous their state is, who are content to take the truths of the Gospel on trust, without caring whether or not those truths are realized in their own heart and conduct. Such men, when assailed by ridicule and sophistry, are likely to fall; they have no root in themselves; and let them be quite sure, that should they fall away from the faith, it will be a slight thing at the last day to plead that subtle arguments were used against them, that they were altogether unprepared and ignorant, and that their seducers prevailed over them by the display of some little cleverness and human knowledge. The inward witness to the truth lodged in our hearts is a match for the most learned infidel or sceptic that ever lived: though, to tell the truth, such men are generally very shallow and weak, as well as wicked; generally know only a little, pervert what they know, assume false principles, and distort or suppress facts: but were they as accomplished as the very author of evil, the humblest Christian, armed with sling and stone, and supported by God's unseen might, is, as far as his own faith is concerned, a match for them. And, on the other hand, the most acute of reasoners and most profound of thinkers, the most instructed in earthly knowledge, is nothing, except he has also within him the presence of the Spirit of truth. Human knowledge, though of great power when joined to a pure and humble faith, is of no power when opposed to it, and, after all, for the comfort of the individual Christian, it is of little value. May we then all grow in heavenly knowledge, and, with that end, labour to improve what is already given us, be it more or be it less, knowing that “ he that is faithful in little is faithful also in much,” and that « to him that hath, more shall be given.”
JEREMIAH, A LESSON FOR THE DISAPPOINTED.
JEREMIAH i. 8.
“ Be not afraid of their faces : for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the
The prophets were ever ungratefully treated by the Israelites ; they were resisted, their warnings neglected, their good services forgotten. But there was this difference between the earlier and the later prophets; the earlier lived and died in honour among their people, in outward honour; though hated and thwarted by the wicked, they were exalted to high places, and ruled in the congregation. Moses, for instance, was in trouble from his people all his life long, but to the end he was their lawgiver and judge. Samuel, too, even though rejected, was still held in reverence; and when he died, “all the Israelites were gathered together and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah'.” David died on a royal throne. But in the latter times, the prophets were not only feared and hated by the enemies of God, but cast out of the vineyard. As the time approached for the coming of the true Prophet of the Church, the Son of God, they resembled Him in their earthly fortunes more and more; and as He was to suffer, so did they. Moses was a ruler, Jeremiah was an outcast: Samuel was buried in peace, John the Baptist was beheaded. In St. Paul's words, they “ had trial of
11 Sam. xxv. 1.
JEREMIAH, A LESSON FOR THE DISAPPOINTED. 249
cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover,
of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned; they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented ; of whom the world was not worthy; they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth ?."
Of these, Elijah, who lived in the wilderness, and the hundred prophets whom Obadiah fed by fifty in a cave, are examples of the wanderers. And Micaiah, who was appointed the bread of affliction and the water of affliction by an idolatrous king, is the specimen of those who had trial of bonds and imprisonment." Of those who were sawn asunder and slain with the sword, Isaiah is the chief, who, as tradition goes, was by order of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, sawn asunder with a wooden saw. And of those who were stoned, none is more famous than Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, “ who was slain between the temple and the altar 3.”
But of all the persecuted prophets Jeremiah is the most eminent; i. e. we know more of his history, of his imprisonments, his wanderings, and his afflictions. He may be taken as a representative of the prophets; and hence it is that he is an especial type of our LORD and Saviour. All the prophets were types of the Great Prophet whose way they were preparing ; they tended towards and spoke of Christ. In their sufferings they foreshadowed His priesthood, and in their teaching His prophetical office, and in their miracles His royal power. The history of Jeremiah, then, as being drawn out in Scripture more circumstantially than that of the other prophets, is the most exact type of Christ among them ; that is, next to David, who, of course, was the nearest resemblance to Him of all, as a sufferer, an inspired teacher, and a king. Jeremiah comes next to David; I do not say in dignity and privilege, for it was Elijah who was taken up to heaven, and appeared at the Transfiguration; nor in inspiration, for to Isaiah one should assign the higher evangelical gifts; but in typifying Him who came and wept over Jerusalem, and then was tortured and put to death by those He wept over.
And hence, when our LORD came, while some thought Him Elijah, and others John the Baptist,
2 Heb. xi. 36–38.
3 Matt. xxiii. 35.