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Spirit of God, that he might not speak in the words of man's wisdom, but with those which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual ? How would it affect our feelings in the sacraments that Christ has appointed in his Church? Would our baptisms be performed as they now are; performed in private, none caring to be present at them but those who are most interested in the infant ? And should we not find them rather to be a precious exercise of discipline in the Church of Christ, in which the congregation would gladly spend so much additional time in earnest prayer, that that new addition to the kingdom of heaven, that new inclusion within the gospel net, might be, in time, full of grace, and in eternity, full of glory? And how would it draw our souls to the Holy Communion? If men felt that they were drawn into the net for the very purpose of being, while in that net, prepared by the divinely appointed means for the divinely prepared glory, think you that men would dare to be absent from that holy table ? Think you that sin would keep them away from Him that died for sinners ? Think
that the troubles of a burdened heart would be an excuse for remaining from the Saviour that said, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ?" Think you that men indeed realizing that at that holy table Christ was present, that that cup of blessing which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ, and that that bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ, that there the Saviour comes to us, and that there we come to the Saviour; if that truth were felt in the light of eternity, felt in the power of the Spirit, would men dare to be absent, when they have the means of coming to that which is fitted to be the strengthening and refreshing of the soul, as the body is by the bread and wine?
Oh, let it be our prayer to God that we would more earnestly consider, more fervently pray, more diligently watch, and more anxiously live in the light of the eternal world.
THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM,
St. MATTHEW xiii. 52.-" Then said he unto them : Therefore, every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.”
There are two great principles by which human beings are governed and guided, -authority and instruction. Let us look at a human being as he enters into this world, -a helpless infant; in no degree above the other animal creation around him; more dependent than almost any other animal being, --incapable of observation, incapable of reflection, incapable of thought;he is entirely dependent on the care of others; and as he progresses through the helpless years of infancy, God has made him depend altogether upon authority. As he begins to observe, we see that he is necessarily confiding, trusting to every word that everybody around says to him. As he begins to think, he is but little able to reason; he receives the statements made to him upon authority; gradually, as his faculties begin to develope, he begins to think for himself; he begins to find, that unprincipled persons around him but too often speak falsely to him, laughing at the simplicity of children, in being foolish enough to believe the corrupted folly of more adult age. By degrees the principle of authority becomes less and less the guiding principle with him, and the principle of instruction becomes more and more that by which he is to govern and to guide himself. Yet the principle of authority never ceases, although it dimi-. nishes. The principle of instruction, if he be a wise man, is always increasing, but inasmuch as no one can know all things, we must for those things that we do not know depend upon the testimony of others. And here God has taught is a great lesson from the natural world around us, that we are never altogether to shake off the principle of authority—that is, simply believing on trust; although we are always, if we rightly use the faculties that God has given us, to be increasing in the principle of well-instructed knowledge.
Now the same thing is true in religion. God has made the child dependent for religion upon his teachers. His very first ideas of God are not by his own reflection. If he have parents, who are what parents ought to be, his opening thoughts are filled with the idea of God. Upon authority, not reflection, he receives the testimony of his parents, that there is a Great Being, who is ever present, ever watchful, ever caring for the creatures of his hands. As soon as he has imbibed this idea of God, if he have Christian parents, so soon as he has committed transgressions, and so can understand the faults that he has committed against his parents, these parents will teach him the redeeming love of God. He receives the doctrine not from any speculation about the necessity of a Divine government, not from any philosophical view of the need of an atonement, but because, having felt that he has committed a fault, he is prepared to
derstand the nature of pardon; and from his parents'
forgiveness he is fitted to learn, not upon reason but authority, the parental forgiveness of Him who gave his Son to die for our sins. Thus we find that in religion, as in the natural world around us, God has made the principle of authority - that is, receiving doctrine upon trust — the foundation of all our true religion. And as in the natural world, so is it in the spiritual world : the child is not to be always a child in spiritual things, any more than in natural things. Do we not find St. John distinguishing the Christian Church into “ little chil dren,” “ young men,” and fathers"? Do we not find St. Peter speaking of those who are but as new born babes, desiring the sincere milk of the word"? not find St. Paul telling us, that those are babes who have need of milk ; that those who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern good and evil, they are such as are capable of receiving strong meat, that food which belongeth to them that are full of age ? Thus we see in the growth of spiritual life the principle of authority becoming, humanly speaking, less and less, the principle of instruction becoming more and more. There is this great difference between authority in religion and authority in common things: that in religion there is a twofold authority,—the authority of man and the authority of God. It is the authority of man which diminishes, the authority of God abides ever the same, The wisest philosopher, as well as the youngest child, are both demanded of God to put implicit credence in him. When the Divine command came forth to Abraham to do an apparently ungodly action; to lift an ap. parently unnatural arm against the life of his own son ; no disputing could be permitted against the Divine command: Abraham must undisputingly obey the authority