« VorigeDoorgaan »
God become our teacher, will he make known to us any fresh truths, or will he merely make those truths more obviously apparent which he has already revealed in the Scriptures ?”
6. His office," to quote the language of a very eloquent writer, “is not to make known to us any truths which are not contained in the Bible, but to make clear to our understandings the truths which are contained in it. He opens our understandings to understand the Scriptores. The word of God is the instrument by which the Spirit worketh. He does not tell us any thing that is out of the record, but all that is within it 'he sends home with clearness and effect upon the mind. lle does not make us wise above that which is written, but he makes us wise ap to that which is written. When a telescope is directed to some distant landscape, it enables us to see what we could not otherwise have seen; but it does not enable us to see any thing which has not a real existence in the prospect before us. It does not present to the eye any delusive imagery-neither is that a fanciful and fictitious scene which it throws open to our contemplation. The natural eye saw nothing but blue land stretching along the distant horizon. By the aid of the glass, 'there bursts upon it a charming variety of fields, and woods, and spires, and villages. Yet who would say that the glass adds one feature to this assemblage? It discovers nothing to us which is not there; nor out of that portion of the book of 'nature which we are employed in contemplating, does it bring into view a single character which is not really and previously inscribed upon it. And so of the Spirit. "He does not add a single truth or a single character to the book of revelation. Ile enables the spiritual man to see what the natural
man cannot see: but the spectacle which he lays open is uniform and immutable. It is the word of God which is ever the same;-and he whom the Spirit of God has enabled to look to the Bible with a clear and affecting discernment, sees no phantom passing before him; but amidst all the visionary extravagance with which he is charged, can, for every one article of his faith, and every one duty of his practice, make his triumphant appeal to the law and to the testimony,"
“ But in the act of teaching us to understand the meaning of the Scriptures, does the Divine Spirit impart the necessary information by a direct communication to our mind ?"
“Perhaps,” said Miss Winkworth, “I cannot give a more correct reply to this question than by taking an illustration from analogy. A man who is born blind, if placed in the centre of the most attractive scenery that nature ever exhibited, can sre no objects. There are the objects, there is also the medium of vision, and if it should please the Almighty to open his eyes, he will at first discern them indistinctly, afterwards more clearly, and when more accustomed to the exercise of his newly acquired faculty of sight he will be able to trace their forms, to distinguish their colours, and to make a correct calculation of their relative distances. He will, when his eyes are open see no objects which did not exist when he was blind; and when he does see them, it will be through the medium of his own eye, though for the capacity of vision he is indebted to a supernatural cause. So in reference to the Spirit of God. He gives to us the power of a spiritual discernment, but that power is exerted through the medium of our own judgment. We read the Bible and we understand
it; but while reading, and while understanding what we read, we may be altogether unconscious of the presence of a supernatural power guiding our perceptions and influencing our decisions."
« How then may we know that the divine Spirit is become our teacher, if we are unconscious of being under his influence, when he is in the act of imparting the power of a clear and accurate discernment?"
“ How? by the result of his operation. The natural man, that is, the man who has never been spiritually enlightened receiveth not the things of she Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned ;' but soppose, as is always the case, when the divine Spirit becomes his teacher, he does discover their meaning and their importance, and does feel their penetrating influence on his heart, would he not be conscious of it? And would not this internal consciousness be a resistless argument to convince him of the truth of the fact that it is not by the unaided efforts of his owo mind, but by the concurring assistance of the Spirit of the Lord, that he is now enabled to discern the meaning of the Scriptures, which he could not previously understand po
* Is this supernatural illumination of the mind, a sudden, or is it a gradual operation ?"
" In some it is a sudden transition from a state or moral darkness to marvellous light; in others it is as the dawning of the morning light, which shineth clearer and brighter ; but though there may be this circumstantial difference in the order and degree of its manifestation, it invariably throws open to our view a clear discovery of our guilt, of our depravity, of the peril of our condition in con
sequence of our transgression ; and enables us to perceive how it is that God can be just while he is the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.' Hence saith our Lord, when speaking of the Spirit of truth, when he is come he will guide you into all truth. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.?"
" I thank you, my dear friend, for the information which you have given me; but there is one question I have yet to propose, How is the assis. tance of this divine Teacher to be obtained ; and what reason has anyone to expect that he will condescend to impart his spiritual guidance, when we are endeavouring to ascertain the meaning of the sacred Scriptures?" 66To this question," my dear Maria,
our Lord gives a satisfactory reply. When teaching his disciples how to pray, he says, “I say unto you Ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you : for every one that asketh, receiveth, and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone ? or if he ask a fish will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shali your
heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask.
THE MODERN MARTYR.
x * MISS HUTCHINSON.- --PART. IV.
" Come then, thou crucified, my Sabbath thoughts
LAWSON'S ORIENT HARPING. The day after Miss Hutchinson had held this conversation with her estimable friend was the Sabbath. She arose rather earlier than usual, and began to prepare for the solemnities of public worship. . Her mind was more tranquil than it had been for several days; yet she was not happy. A wound was inflicted on her heart, by an invisible hand, and she knew not how to heal it. The complacency she had felt in the excellence of her cha. racter and the purity of her principles, was succeeded by some slight emotions of dissatisfaction, and she began to think, that, like the young man whom Jesus loved, she lacked that one thing, which adds a sterling worth to all human attain. ments. She once more opened the sacred volume, but recollecting the observations of the preceding evening, she knelt down, and for the first time besought the Divine Spirit to illumine her mental darkness, and to impart to her that power of discernment which would enable her to understand what she read. The prayer was offered up with great seriousness, and with much earnestness, and she was astonished