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that which can only be from within; to think less of appearance, more of the reality; to be natural, serious, forbearing, as considering what, and where we are, and what we are coming to.
6. Caution necessary with respect to the latent senses of
There is another subject which necessarily must attract much attention, as men's minds are turned more to Theology and which comes on this generation with all the attractions, and all the dangers, of novelty; and that is, the depth and vastness of type, analogy, and prophecy, contained in GOD'S WORD. Now with regard to these things it must be remembered, that attention to them has been revived by persons of some experience, and some reading; and the right and true understanding of such subjects, the Fathers, to whom they refer us, speak of as being the result of a life of devotion and piety. Such, for instance, is the knowledge of these mystical and deeper senses of Scripture; they consider them to be disclosed to prayer rather than acuteness, to experience rather than study; to piety rather than learning. But of course there is no reason why these should not become matters for mere speculative inquiry, and curious research : they are at once highly attractive and pleasing to the imagination the analogies of Scripture open new worlds to the mind, like discoveries in the material Heavens, and may excite the curiosity we derive from our fallen parents. The accurate closeness of its phrases is like the nice formation in each flower of the field its light like the body of the Heavens in its clearness; its vastness like the bosom of the sea; its variety like scenes of nature. Nothing, therefore, can be more captivating, more sublime, more engaging; tempting the mind by its indefiniteness to fresh pursuits, and new inquiries; and from thence to speculate, to talk, to be eloquent, on such points; to make even them also matters of display. Here, therefore, the reserve of natural piety will be broken, for these are not the uses for which GOD's revealed WORD was intended, but only that we might come to the knowledge of Him and of ourselves.
One thing is certain, that the deep senses and hidden knowledge of Scripture are intended to enlighten the heart and exercise the affections, not to gratify the intellect or try the ingenuity. With regard to any knowledge that is truly valuable, the unhallowed intellect can of itself learn nothing. As in all other matters, in His Providences, His moral government, in the events of life, and the thoughts of man's mind, GoD will reveal Himself only to the pure in heart, to the humble, and such as keep His commandments: so also in His written Word, He will manifest Himself to such only. He will disclose Himself to each in that particular way, perhaps, in which they reverently seek Him; to one in exercises of devotion; to another in acts of charity; to another in the practice of humiliation; to another in the religious fulfilment of practical duties; to another in the study of Holy Scripture. Not that either of these can be pursued exclusively to the neglect of the others, for he who breaks one law of his Christian calling, is guilty of all: but as the peculiar sphere of each is regulated by the great Disposer of all, so the line which is appointed unto each, is that course which, if rightly pursued, will lead him to GoD, and to the manifestation of some one of His attributes, which are variously disclosed to each. To search out and study in Holy Scripture nothing more than the beauty of its analogies, the strength and depth of its figures, the harmony of its proportions, and its perfection as a whole, were indeed but a poor and barren study of itself alone: and poor would be its reward, if it could attain unto the greatest skill in this knowledge. It would be like scientific studies in the natural world, which, if exclusively pursued, will, we know, draw away the heart from GOD, and not nearer to Him. But if they are pursued at every step in a thorough dependence on Him, from whom alone cometh down every good and perfect gift; with a devout acknowledgment of His perfections whenever they are disclosed; and a desire to know Him, in order to serve and worship Him better; then, no doubt, He will through these studies impart that wisdom, to the attainment of which St. Paul so earnestly exhorts his Ephesian converts, that knowledge which is one with faith ;-these two being as closely united with each other
as light and heat, the one illuminating, and the other quickening the soul after some heavenly manner. The knowledge of Holy Scripture, which is thus life-giving, may be ever progressive, leading more and more into hidden riches and treasures: the promise is given, and to him who knocks at the door by humble prayer, it will infallibly be opened. And he will still have to knock again at the door, and be admitted again into the inner shrine of ever-increasing light and as he advances onward into better knowledge, and more light, he will see himself more and more deformed and unsightly, until, at length, he will wish to be entirely withdrawn from the sight of man, and to be hidden with GOD.
Now, if we study Scripture with this single eye, under the guidance of God's good SPIRIT, we shall so far be preserved and protected by this sacred modesty; it will prevent us from exposing the treasures of GOD, or His secret gifts; and will suggest to us, that so far as we are truly desirous to do good to others, we shall observe towards them this forbearance, according as their case requires. We shall have no need of a system, for we shall do it naturally: the example of St. Paul on this subject of the mystical senses of Scripture is quite sufficient; he does not, we may suppose, set himself any system or rule of secrecy ; on which account his example is of more weight in always observing it as it shows that it is a law of natural piety, which the HOLY SPIRIT has stamped on our souls. So that if any body be otherwise minded, and yet is seeking His heavenly guidance, He will reveal even this unto him, so that "he will walk by the same rule, he will mind the same thing." For consider St. Paul's reserve in the Epistle to the Hebrews on the subject of Melchisedeck; how different is his conduct to that which the modern wisdom of expediency would suggest! These mystical prophecies in the Old Testament, so long secretly contained in it respecting the Messiah, so distinct and so minute, must, (it might have been thought) if publicly brought forward, have struck these carnallyminded Hebrews very much: such wonderful circumstances, couched in such apparently accidental mention, in a book written at so early an age, would have been a great confirmation of their
faith, and would have inspired them with awe for the sacred volume, and for the person of CHRIST, for whose coming there had been such solemn and so long preparation; and how (might it have been urged) would it have increased their awe for the Holy Eucharist to find the allusion to it contained in this passage in Genesis! But St. Paul thought otherwise. It is precisely in the same manner that we might have supposed our LORD's fully disclosing Himself would have been so beneficial to the unbelieving Jews. But the conduct of our LORD and of His Apostles is perfectly analogous: and that of the Fathers on the same subject is so similar, that we cannot but suppose it is by the same SPIRIT. We may, indeed, sometimes speak of these things publicly; and may even enlarge on the sacred mysteries of the most blessed Eucharist (which is so awfully depreciated), but afterwards we shall, I think, feel some misgiving, some instinctive feeling, as if reverence was hurt: in such cases, a man's own mind will tell him more than ten men that stand on a watchtower. Though, of course, they who have to combine theological studies with popular teaching, will often find some difficulty on this subject, which St. Augustine describes himself as struggling with.
7. Secret religious duties, conversation, and controversy.
There is another point, in which it would seem that the Roman Church of late years has outstepped the retiring nature of Christian piety, to the great injury of the religious character, viz. in the observation of fast days, which has become very external, and looks too much to human obligation: thereby bringing in some degree into the sanctuary of GoD, the unsanctifying eye of man. On this subject, therefore, we require to be reminded of our LORD's sacred injunction of a reserved secrecy. We would, of course, keep the fasts of the Church religiously and scrupulously, for, as Bishop Wilson says, "Woe be to that Christian, who knows not what it is to fast, even when the Church requires it." And with regard to the shame which men, and especially the young, are apt to feel at being thought under the subjection of rule and ordinances, we would take for our especial warning
those awful words, "Whosoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed." But when this shame is once overcome, if it be before the heart be humbled, and anything is to be gained in the way of countenance or sympathy, there is a danger of a feeling being introduced alien to Christian delicacy, on this most delicate of all subjects. There are duties to the unseen, but ever-seeing GoD, and expressions of love to Him; and what an exceedingly delicate thing this love is! what a breath of air seems to sully it! how it shrinks from the light of common day! This may be seen in Mr. James Bonnel's treatment of himself on these points; how does his own moral feeling exemplify our SAVIOUR's very remarkable and particular directions on the subject of these duties. It is indeed true, that the observance of these things is so out of fashion, that a public warning, and a public profession of them is almost needful: but such public testimonies, while they are necessary, are painful; and when they cease to be painful, become a snare. The strength of truth is from its connexion with other worlds, and, therefore, is in secret; "Thy words have I hid within my heart"-and why?"That I should not sin against Thee." Or again, if we press these duties on others beyond what they are able to bear, or beyond what they may reasonably think our own sincerity will warrant, how may we rather repel than invite them! the cause of truth may suffer in our hands. Let our private self-denial exceed, and precede, our public testimony.
Others, again, may be half inclined to cast aside this reserve, from feelings of natural pride at the greatness of that high cause in which they are interested; in which the best names of all ages have been engaged. There is, moreover, something of refinement and good taste connected with the highest principles, which it is honourable to be associated with; these may tempt some to be too forward in so holy a cause, too forward in externally maintaining, far too backward in practically realizing them. But, above all, there is a humble quietness in all these retiring ways of seeking GOD; whereas our natural tempers seek for excitement, and press forward to something beyond.
Such persons, who are tempted to feel as if they were supporters