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ἀπεόντων, of which the heathen poet speaks'. ’Απροσίκτων ἐρώτων, says the same writer, dúrepaι paviai (Nem. xi. 63), more eager are the feelings which are set on unallowed (or unattainable) objects of affection. What we want, and have mercifully supplied to us, is a plain practical guide for those whose only desire is to have sufficient light furnished them to carry them through the night in safety. And it has been shown, that such an obedient adherence to the guide afforded us is more likely to bring us to the knowledge of the very highest truths in religion than any thing else.
Had the Jews seriously attended to the indications which their Scriptures had afforded them, in speaking of mercy rather than sacrifice, and innocency more than washing of hands, they would have known the MESSIAH. In like manner it seems not unreasonable to believe that, in the Church itself, whom, as a matter of loyal obedience, we are bound to follow, there may be furnished that peculiar light, that supernatural, as it were, and gifted lamp, which should develope the things around us, so far as to render our pathway clear and safe, although not such as to gratify the curious imagination. To a speculative and anxiously-forecasting mind our course is beset with difficulties, but it must be remembered how much is said in Scripture of its promises being retained for those who "wait for GOD 3."
ρεύων ἀκράντοις ἐλπίσιν. Pyth. iii. 34.
Thucydides also uses a similar expression ; δυσέρωτας εἶναι τῶν ἀπόντων.
lib. vi. c. 13.
2 “The primitive Fathers," says Bishop Wilson, "were ever modest upon "religious questions... and carefully suppressed the curious, restless temper." -Sacra Privata, Tuesday, Meditations.
3 One of the appointed Gospels peculiar to us, which has not been before noticed, will illustrate this our situation. On the second Sunday in Lent, that in the Roman Missal is on the Transfiguration, which thus becomes the prominent
Besides which it is especially necessary that, in upholding great and good principles, we do not forget humble duty,--the keeping of the heart, from whence are the issues of life. The extreme value and importance of principles, natural religion itself teaches us, by the earnestness instinctively shown in maintaining even the shadows of truth, however false. And Revelation confirms the same by making our salvation to depend on our belief, i. e., on our acceptance of, and adherence to, certain principles. But yet the preservation and maintenance of those principles in the world. at large, may be the work of GOD alone, so far as not to admit of human forecast or prudence, excepting as subordinate to certain definite callings and duties. To turn the attention too exclusively to certain great principles, without reference to human affections, and lower responsibilities, may imply presumptousness in man, and be detrimental, in the highest degree, to the moral character. It were well worthy of inquiry whether there be not some grand fundamental error of this kind developed in the Church of Rome. It has had peculiarly entrusted to it the keeping of great, doctrinal, Catholic truths; and in the keeping of these it has also peculiarly stamped upon it the mark of Cain, fraternal blood. This is a wonderful phenomenon, but the temper that gives birth to it, is generally to be perceived in religious controversy, in drinking up the springs of natural affection and Christian compassion. For, although religious persecution, especially in the atrocious scenes it has given rise to, in burning
subject for the day in the Roman and Parisian Breviaries. We are thus led by them from our blessed LORD's temptation on the previous Sunday to be with Him soon in His glory and on the Mount. But instead of this we have in our own another Gospel, the subject of which is the woman of Canaan requesting to have "the crumbs that fall from the children's table." If this change (or rather difference, for our own is in the Sarum,) is in a beautiful and touching manner expressive of our condition, yet is it not the less so our blessedness if we act up to it; for there is scarce an instance of a higher expression of favour and acceptance than that to the poor woman, though it is after "bearing long with her," and drawing out more fully her penitential request. We are not to be on the Mount with the three favoured Apostles; but from the borders of Tyre and Sidon, we may gather up the crumbs, and fall at His feet and worship Him, and wait for Him in our need.
men for their religion, must doubtless be referred to the author of all evil, as clearly his work; yet in this, as in other matters, it is something truly right and good, for which he substitutes a delusion of this kind, which dries up the milk of human charity. There does really exist an Angel of light, whose semblance he thus assumes. The reason doubtless is, the instinctive sense in human nature of the extreme value of truth, and of the little importance of life itself in comparison with it. But it is often better inculcated by implication, which it is when it deeply imbues the moral character, than by direct controversy 1.
14. Difficulty of realizing sanguine hopes.
There is also another point which renders this subject important in the way of quietness and consolation, and in keeping down
1 One instance may be mentioned of the kind of case to which the foregoing observations may apply. To declare positively that the Pope is Antichrist, and then to act, and to call others to act on this assumption; or, on the other hand, even to declare that Popery is in no way a developement of Antichrist, and cannot be the full developement hereafter, may, in either case, be presumptuous, (although, certainly, we do not discern in it that mark of Antichrist," that it "denies the Son.") Such confident determinations may be like the declaration of the Jews, that our SAVIOUR could not be the CHRIST, as Elias had not first come; for indeed the Baptist had himself told them that he was not Elias. Whereas, if instead of drawing these strong conclusions, and then acting upon them, they had obeyed the Baptist's injunctions, which seem to have been appeals to each person to amend his own daily life; then would they have believed in our SAVIOUR; then would they have arrived at that spiritual discernment of heart, which our LORD indicates to have been necessary in order that they might be able to receive it, that the Baptist was in fact Elias (St. Matt. xi. 14), in spite of speculative difficulties, and the Baptist's own declaration that in one sense, (viz. that which they intended,) he was not that Elias. That is the more necessary, for this reason, that there appears from Scripture some grounds for supposing that the worst condemnation will be connected with the greatest light; if, therefore, we frighten ourselves from what is good in principle in the Roman Catholic faith, with the idea of Antichrist, we may forfeit and fly away from the essential saving doctrines it maintains. If, on the contrary, from the essential saving doctrines it maintains, we declare it to have no connection with Antichrist, it is possible we may unawares be furthering the cause of the great apostacy, and come in for some share of its condemnation.
excited and curious thoughts. It has been observed how much the blessings and privileges which are peculiarly those of the Gospel, and especially those of the highest value, are connected with temporal calamities, and, in many cases, depend upon them; as, for instance, the joy and exaltation, and “the manifold more "in this present life," attached to persecution, necessarily imply persons who will persecute: the comfort of them that mourn, and the inheritance of the meek, imply cause of grief, and occasion of anger. Poverty and an ill name have the blessings of the Kingdom. Above all, we have the worldly condition of the Author and Finisher of our faith, and the cloud of witnesses which attend Him and partake of His sufferings. Now all these things create a difficulty in conceiving the existence of a high state of external prosperity, and of internal well-being coincident with it, in the Church; not sufficient to do away entirely with those expectations which good men have entertained', but such as to still any unquiet anticipations respecting them. And more than this, to keep us from having our minds too much riveted and engaged in sanguine views of the Church realizing, in external appearance, the greatness of the promises made to her the grandeur of such, the riches of the kingdom, may be throughout entirely of an internal and spiritual nature, ascertained and possessed mostly under afflictions and privations; so that she may have to the end, like her Divine Author, " no form nor comeliness," nor, to the worldly eye, symmetry or beauty, "that we should "desire her;" but still, under this external humiliation and contempt, her children may see her glory;" as St. John did that of CHRIST, or the inspired Psalmist, when he said, "Thou art "fairer than the children of men: full of grace are thy lips."
And indeed the highest expressions by which Scripture represents the blessings of God's presence in His Church, are rather those of refreshment and relief, under existing and pressing evils, than positive enjoyment independent of them, and which therefore imply the pressure of those evils, e. g. "For thou hast been a "strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge
1 See Bishop Wilson's Sacra Privata. Friday. Penitence, ad finem.
"from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the "terrible ones is as a storm against the wall." (Isa. xxv. 4.) It is not usually observed how much the most glowing descriptions, prophetic of the Christian blessings, consist in figures of this kind, which represent good as arising out of, and perhaps existing together with, temporal evil; as, "I will make the "wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water; "I will plant in the wilderness the cedar." (Isa. xli. 18, 19.) And so also with regard to all those expressions of "the wolf dwelling with the lamb," "the leopard lying down with the kid," " and the little child leading them;" "and the sucking child play"ing on the hole of the asp ;"-may they not be fulfilled, not in the absence of temporal evils, but in this, that temporal evils will be rich in spiritual blessings, when accompanied by a child-like temper? It is by similar expressions out of number, that our SAVIOUR designates Himself through the Prophets. "I give "waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert ;" and in another place," When thou passest through the waters, I will be "with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: "when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned." (Isa. xliii.) Such also are the typical figures of the Christian state, such as the Three Children singing in the fire, and Daniel alive in the den of lions. The same seems to be inferred by the numerous prophetical expressions, as in the Psalms, which speak of our SAVIOUR as suffering, not only in His own person, but likewise in His members. Those good things, therefore, which are in store for the Church, may be like most, if not all, other prophecies before they are fulfilled, entirely of a nature defying our previous suppositions; only we can see thus much, that the enjoyment of high spiritual privileges, together with temporal prosperity, appears incompatible.
It is moreover remarkable how often the word "witness" is applied in Scripture, either to the Church, or to the HOLY SPIRIT as within her, or to those sent by Him; as if in this point of view alone, i. e., as a witness, it had a great office to fulfil. And if the history of the ancient Church, at any place or period we take it after the earliest days, creates a feeling of disappointment,