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be known, or it may not. It may have taken place in youth, or manhood. It
may have been accompanied with darkness and terror, or with light and joy; but, whatever was the mode or the form, if the reality be ours, then we hold the very religion of God. The Spirit who inspired the word has taught us to understand it. He is making all things new. We are one in spirit with the Lord; and though the material world were wrapt in its destined winding-sheet of flame, that soul is safe; because Christ liveth, it is alive for evermore.
“ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," 1 Cor. ii. 14. Such is the declaration of the Holy One regarding the heart unrenewed. And oh, how melancholy is the comment which the history of many a soul furnishes on that text; how vast the contrast here between God's revealed religion and man's ! Conversion was needed in former times,—it is not needed now. Such is, in substance, the opposition which more than one learned man has offered to the deep and sweeping truth. But in opposing it, did they not thereby really prove it? The natural man-that is, man unchanged by the Spirit of God-deems the things of that Spirit to be foolishness. The very wisdom of God seems hidden and obscure ; not because there is no light in it, but because the light which is in man, prior to conversion, is darkness.
The contrast between religion as God presents it, and as man by nature views it, may now be plain ; yet that contrast might be indefinitely prolonged. There is no conviction more deeply rooted in man's mind, than that it is by his own wisdom, and prudence, and power, that he must win his way to glory. The Holy One says, “ Without me ye can do nothing."
“ Mine own arm hath gotten me the victory.” God says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.”
Man hazards the counter-assertion, “By my wisdom, for I am prudent."
God says, “Let not the mighty man glory in his might;" and, 6 cursed is he that maketh flesh his arni."
Man rejoins, in the spirit of the haughty potentate, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built
· by the might of my power ?"
God says that our very righteousnesses are impure before him. We, on the contrary, deem them a sufficient plea before the very God who declares his mind in language so emphatic and so plain.
But we need not proceed. At a thousand points the contrast is apparent—the antagonism is perfect; and what should, there
THE RELIGION OF GOD AND THE RELIGION OF MAN.
fore, be the alternative of an earnest soul, a soul that would no longer be deceived, either by the world, or by self ? Surely the Lord's mind should become the mind of such a
Can there be peace, or rest, or hope, while we are opposing the mind of God? Ah, no! It is only the work of righteousness that is peace, and the effect of it that is quietness and assurance for ever.
Surely our blessedness will be found—it can be found only in acting in the spirit of that profoundest prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
And oh, how strange if the gospel of peace do not bring us peace ! Is there not something wrong, if the religion which was brought from heaven to earth by Him who is the Prince of peace, has not brought repose to the troubled soul ? Can it be that the shadow of the Great Rock is not sufficient to screen us ? Nay, we have refused to flee to that shadow if we be not screened. Can it be that the “rivers of water" are not sufficient to quench our thirst? Oh, no; but we have refused to drink : or we are polluting the stream by some human mixture, if we are not refreshed. The whole gospel is planned with a view to restore happiness to man. It came from the very God of peace. It was revealed by the Prince of peace. In the Irish tongue it is called “the story of peace.” The abundance of peace is its promised result; and surely, surely we must be holding some human form of religion, instead of the divine, if the
peace of God do not keep our heart and mind through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Has the reader ever been at sea ? If so, he has noticed there that all that was done in the vessel which bore him, was done with one single object supremely and evermore in view, namely, to convey him to the haven where he wished to arrive. Not a sail was set or furled; not an order given or obeyed; not a rope tightened or let go; not an anchor dropt or weighed; in short, not one movement was made which had not the one end and the one object in view. Now, it is the same in regard to the gospel of our salvation. All is arranged, all is done to re-conduct man to happiness and his God. Be God's will our will. Be his revealed mind our mind. In other words, be his religion our religion. Instead of a contrast, let there be harmony, agreement, coincidence, and then the peace of God which passeth all understanding will keep our hearts and minds.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON RUW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH. J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close, London.
A YOUNG invalid, condemned by a rapid decline to an early death, as with slow steps and drooping head he paced his darkened chamber, asked himself, in a low voice, this question : “ Is there a God ?" The only answer was a deep-drawn sigh; and again the young man resumed his walk, in silent meditation. But at last, as if the expression of his thoughts could no longer be restrained, he uttered this exclamation : “Ah! even when I am convinced that he exists, who will tell me what he is ? what he would have from me ? what I may expect from him ? and what are the relations between us? O God! if thou art, why wilt thou not reveal thyself to one who seeks thee? But, no; thou art invisible, impalpable, inappreciable by any sense; insensible to all my anguish. Thy name only exists; thou, thou art as nothing." And the invalid relapsed into a mournful silence.
The door opened, and a servant, carrying some medicine, entered.
“Charles," said the young man, "put that down, and listen to me.”
Certainly, sir ;" said the man, placing the medicine upon a table, and letting his arms fall at his side. « What can I do for you, sir ?”
“Charles, do you think that there is a God ?" « Sir ?"
“Now let'sir' alone, and tell me frankly what you think. Do you
believe that there is a God ?" Yes, to be sure.” 66 What is He ?" “ The sun." 66 How !”
Yes, the world, the universe: all that exists.” “ And how do you know that ?”
“ It is easy enough to know. I say to myself in this way: There is the sun, the world, mankind, and all the rest. It is certain that all this exists, because I see, and touch, and feel it myself. But who has made all this? It is not by chance ; because chancethat is saying nothing-chance is neither a
thing nor a person. To say that chance made the universe, is as much as to say that nothing made everything.”
Very well; but all this only proves that there is a God. It does not prove that God is the sun or the moon.”
“ You shall see. I say to myself thus: God is not chance, but he is rather a being—that is, a spirit of knowledge,-or a person. It is possible; but as I do not see it, I do not believe. I only believe what I can see.
So I see the world ; I am, therefore, sure that it exists; and instead of talking of chance, which is nothing, or of a God, whom nobody has seen, I believe that those things I see have always existed; in other words, that they have made themselves. So I prove that the universe is God.'
“ The sun, then, is a part of God ?” “Yes.”
“ The moon, the stars, the earth, mankind, then, are parts of God ?"
“ Then the mud in our streets, the fierce animals in our forests, the murderer upon the scaffold,—these are God ?”
“ Yes,"—hesitated poor Charles, who did not seem to have foreseen this conclusion.
“ Therefore, when animals devour each other, when men kill one another, it is part of God which devours and kills another
At this moment, you, who think in one way, I, who think in another, we are two parts of the same God at variance. Your God wills, and wills not, at the same time; makes, says, and thinks a thousand contradictory things.”
“ But, sir, I had not thought of all this; and, to tell you the truth, it was in a book at the reading-room that I saw all that I have been saying to you. But if you are pleased to think otherwise"
Well, well, Charles; some one rings: open the door.”
Charles hastily left the room, into which, after a few minutes, the physician entered.
“Well, how are we, to-day ?” said he.
“Pooh! pooh! Don't frighten yourself for nothing: the return of fine weather will do you good. Leave home for, the south, and you will come back cured.”
“Do you believe so ?"
“I understand. In that case, dear doctor, do me the favour to take a seat, and to answer me a question.” Willingly. What is it ?”