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yea, that the Father knoweth what things they have need of, before they ask Him !
The Son of God tells us of our Father, that, by seeking communion with Him, we may find a blessedness in our labours of love and works of faith which the world cannot give nor take away. Those who prayed in the corners of the streets, those who sounded the trumpet before their almsgiving, those who disfigured their faces with all the sad signs of a sanctimonious austerity, did it for a reward : and they had it —they were seen of men. Our reward is to be greater far. The silent prayer, the private bounty, the cheerful self-denial, which found no human praise, arose from a belief in the Father in secret; and that Father beholds, listens, approves and blesses.
A stranger intermeddleth not with that joy which the heart shares with its parental God. The doors and windows of the soul may be thrown
the divine music may be heard ; the celestial light shine forth ; the spirit holds its festivalthe Father in all His glory visits there ; but no uninvited guest may enter. The reward is open ; but, like the openness of God, is profoundly secret too.
Blessed is he who has a Father in secret. Earth's secrets torture us—they are mixed with suspicion : this secret inspires trust. From all our clouds and mysteries, our doubts and forebodings, our suspicions and fears, we go to the secret love of God. When the friends who had our entire confidence forfeit it, or are themselves forfeited from us, when we know not where they are, what has become of them, or what has changed them,—we are still sure of the secret love of God. If we have wandered from Him, lo, as we return, we find Him meeting us; for He had seen us a great way off, and read our desire to be His servants : the Father falls on the son's neck and kisses him. If we long to have one to whom to confide all our secrets with safety,—who will never betray them to our hurt,—who will give us all the joys of sympathy without its dangers,—who will listen to all our falls and errors as one who will raise and direct us, to all our griefs as one who will light a rainbow's beauty in our tears ;—if we scarce dare to look up, lest we should meet some upbraiding eye-lo! He knoweth the mind of the spirit—that Father in secret-and our earnest seeking after Him meets with its reward.
He seemed secret: we came to Him in secret : in secret He makes His gift. It may not prove what we expected : its properties are secret; but if we had it from Him, it is divine. He
may indeed, on earth, reward us openly : our sorrow may give place to joy: the outpouring of our heart's bitterness may be succeeded by fountains of delight. Legions of angels may appear to be strengthening us : trusting in His support, we do and dare what were else impossible. Our secret benevolence, buried in the ground, swells into a blooming, fruitful tree, whilst the profuse way-side sowing has withered : our private sacrifice, so sweetly made, has endeared self-denial to thousands who shrunk from a gloomy mortification : our silent prayer to God has enabled us to speak in thunder before men; it returned to our own bosom with heavenly authority! Ah! it is not so ? Still we droop—still seem forsaken : we have not our reward! Those who prayed before men have theirs, those who showered alms have theirs, the very hypocrites have theirs,—and we have none. Did the Father who was in secret hear us, see us, approve us? It was a Heavenly Father-His reward may be heavenly. Earth could not give it, neither may earth witness it. Blessed are we if it be such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,—which hath not entered the heart of man. Amen.
THE SUFFICIENCY OF DIVINE REVELATION.
BY REV. THOMAS SADLER, PH.D.
2 TIMOTHY iii. 15 :
“The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.”
THERE are three grand sources from which we gain a knowledge of God. The first is the outward creation, which in man's uncultivated state seems to be his one book of Religion. There the savage points out the evidence for the existence of the Great Spirit. There are the heathen's gods. And there the Christian, having already walked with Christ and listened to his reasoning respecting Divine Providence from the raven and the lily, delights to take his child and call forth its feelings of wonder and reverence.
The second chief source of our knowledge of God is the human soul itself. And as such we all use it in some measure, for all feel that what conscience bids us do is also acceptable in God's sight. Nor if it be right to institute a comparison between two sources of knowledge which ought always to be used in harmony, can we deny that the second is the greater of the two; for in the outward creation we have God in His works, whereas we have in the human soul both His most wonderful work and an image of Himself, and we have further, if not distinctly clothed ideas of Him, yet a void without Him, a crying of the spirit as of a child for its parent, a deep yearning of the inmost soul for a Divine Object of faith and worship. But to these two sources of our knowledge of God, which history and our own hearts alike testify are insufficient for our wants, He has in His infinite goodness added a third, which on the highest of all themes affords us peace and joy in believing, assuring us of His tender care and love for us, and welcoming us into close and hallowed communion with Him by prayer. I need not say, my fellow-christians, that I speak of the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation.
What, then, is this Divine Revelation ? The answer of the multitude would be, every word of the Old and New Testaments from the first line of Genesis to the last of the Apocalypse. But that is not the answer of the enlightened and thoughtful, who have felt, as a learned dignitary of the Established Church expressed it, that such a theory is not capable of being entertained with a knowledge of the facts on the subject. Still, however, all Christians are agreed that the Scriptures are the volume of revealed truth—that they are able to make us wise unto salvation and that God has not failed so to preserve them in their purity and power, as to render them available to us and to our children to the latest generation.
But here we come to a question which has caused anxiety in many an earnest heart, and which, till fairly and fully met, will trouble the depths of thought in Christendom, viz., If you cannot rely on every word of the Bible as from the finger of God, what is your principle of reliance ? If the Old and New Testaments are honest records of revelation, and not themselves literal revelations, how are you to distinguish between recorded inspiration and the rest, between what is human and what is divine ? If in the accounts of the flood you have a numerical difference, which account do you accept? If you have a discrepancy in the descriptions of the temple, do you receive the book of Chronicles or of Kings? In the variations in the Gospels, which of the evangelists do you follow ? There is not a doctrine held by any sect in Christendom which is not supposed to have a text of Scripture in its support. What, then, is your principle of reliance, or have you no principle, and do you select according to your own feelings and preconceived opinions ? Nor is it to any purpose to reply, as some have done, I would refer to the original, perhaps I may find light there; I would compare Scripture with Scripture ; I would study the olden times in history, geography and antiquities ; I would consult the ablest commentators; for the unlearned and the young, who constitute ninety-nine hundredths of Christendom, have no elaborate critical apparatus, and could not use it if they had ; nor does any man pretend that philology or biblical criticism, even in its highest form, makes the distinction between the saved and the condemned. I ask, then, how are you to proceed as a Christian ?
My answer is, that as a Christian I have never any occasion to make such a selection as you speak of. Neither the real nor supposed difficulties which have been referred to concern vital Christianity. It will not be of very great importance if, on these matters, I never make up my mind at all. If indeed we had to form distinct and confident opinions on all the abstruse, metaphysical points usually comprehended under the head of Christian theology, and if our salvation depended on accuracy in these opinions, I confess the mode in which Divine Revelation has been handed down to us would present serious difficulties; but the design of Christianity was not to inculcate an elaborate theological system, but to establish a living spiritual relation between the Father in heaven and His children on earth.
And this, my fellow-christians, I believe to be the key to the true understanding of the Bible. Jesus Christ came not merely to deliver a message from God, but is the Mediator between God and men. He is near to the Father, and would bring us near. He is one with the Father, and desires to make us also one. In these things are of course involved fundamental religious truths : the Fatherly character of God