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peaceful and steadfast, or be secure about themselves, that they would not run any whither, if they judged merely by what is seen! “We see not our tokens; there is not one prophet more; no, not one is there among us that understandeth any more.” “ Thou makest us to be rebuked of our neighbours, to be laughed to scorn and had in derision of them that are round about us; Thou makest us to be a by-word among the heathen, and that the people shake their heads at us. My confusion is daily before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, for the voice of the slanderer and blasphemer, for the enemy and avenger."* Who among us does not at this day participate in this ancient trial ? for who would account that to be the Church of God in which we are, if he went merely by sight? who has not cause to appeal, and who may not appeal, and who will not find an answer when he appeals, to the notes of that Kingdom, which abides, as it came, “ without observation,” and which proclaims not “Lo here! or Lo there !” because it is a Kingdom of God which is “ within us ?” Yes, I say ; who among us may not, if he will, lead such a life as to have these secret and truer tokens to rest his faith on, so as to be sure, and certain, and convinced that the Church which baptized us has still the Presence of Christ, and therefore is within the bounds of His Kingdom, and is the gate to His eternal favour ?
When then we are overwhelmed, as we well may be, at the confusion of all things around us, as Psalmists and Prophets have been before us, let us turn to the thought of that gift which Psalmists and Prophets had not as we may have, and which is personal and incommunicable and unspeakable, but known to religious men. What are signs and tokens of any kind whatever, but the way to Christ ? what need of them should it so be, through His mercy,
* Ps. lxxiv. 10; xliv. 14-17.
that we have found Him? Who asks his way when he has got to his destination ? why seek the shadow, if we already have the substance ? why seek Him elsewhere, if we have reason to trust we have found Him here? why turn from Him, if we are already in His presence? If so be we have “tasted that the Lord is gracious," what need we more? When the women met Christ after His resurrection, “ they came and held Him by the feet and worshipped Him." Magdalen would have done the like, but He forbade it. The two disciples, when “He made as though he would have gone farther," “ constrained Him." When Jacob wrestled with the Angel, he would not refrain even at His word, but said, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.” “I held Him, and would not let Him go," says the Bride, “ until I had brought Him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.” What want we more than His Presence? Andrew “findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, we have found the Messias.” What can we need beyond finding Him? Can we gain more than Him any where ? shall we be thankful, shall we be dutiful, shall we be believing, if we leave Him? The holy women would not let Him go; can we be certain, if we once loose our hold of Him, that we shall ever regain it! shall we not rather, in that case, be of the number of those, who, though they saw His mighty works, came to Him, and “ besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts?”
But you will, perhaps, ask, “Is there no chance of Christ ever leaving a home where once He was ? and if His Presence leaves it, must not we leave it also ?" Yes, verily; did He leave His home, we must follow Him; who doubts it? But let me ask, Does He commonly leave without tokens that He is leaving ? and if we have tokens that he is still with us, we have sufficient tokens that He has not yet left us Doubtless there was a time when even from Jerusalem, the Holy City, it was a duty to depart; but our Lord gave a sign when it was to be. “When ye shall see the abomination of desolation stand in the Holy Place, then let them which be in Judæa flee unto the mountains ;” and when the time came, other signs were added. The Lord had come upon the Jewish people with miracles; and with miracles He left them. He foretold and brought to pass “fearful sights, and great signs from heaven.” Strange portents happened in the fated city, and the voice of Angels was heard in the Temple, saying one to another, thereby to guide God's people, “ Let us depart hence.” Such, too, was the command when the people came out of Egypt : “ Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”
Let, then, the disorder in religious matters which now prevails among us, only lead each of us to ask himself this plain question, whether he may not have more tokens, real and intimate, that Christ is with himself and his brethren in our ordinances, than he has evidence in the present absence or mutilation of the truth, whatever it is, that Christ is not with him. Christ may be at a distance from others, yet may be with him. The word runs, “ According to thy faith, be it done unto thee.” If then “ there is any consolation in Christ, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies ;" if you have gained any good thing, not merely in, but through your Church; if you have come to Service, and been favoured with the peace or the illumination you needed; or if you can recollect times when you visited holy places, and certainly gained there a manifestation such as the worl could not give; or if sermons have come to you with powe! and have been blessed to your spiritual good; or if your soul has been, as it were, transfigured within you, when you came to the Most Holy Sacrament; or if Lent and Passion-tide brought to you what you had not before; or if at Ordinations you have been partakers of an indescribable influence, and almost savour of grace, though you realized it not at the time ; or if strange providences, and almost supernatural coincidences have hung about the Church's Ordinances ; if mercies or judgments have descended through them upon yourselves, or upon those about you ; or if you have experience of death-beds, and know how full of hope the children of our Church can die ;-0! pause ere you doubt that we have a Divine Presence among us still, and have not to seek it. Let us enjoy what we still have, though the world deride us;—though our brethren tell us that in their and our Sacraments we have not what we think we have; though they tell us it is all a dream, and rudely bid us seek elsewhere,-no, they do not need to seek who have already found; we need other arguments before we seek what, through God's mercy, we hope to enjoy where we are. “The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground; yea, I have a goodly heritage;" why should not we enjoy the hidden. Kingdom of Christ, though others may not have faith to see it? And we will cling to the Church in which we are, not for its own sake, but because we humbly trust that Christ is in it; and while He is in it, we will abide in it. He shall leave before we do. He shall lead, and we will but follow; we will not go before Him; we will not turn away from Him, we will ever turn towards Him. We will but ask ourselves this single question, “ Is He here ?” for “ with Him is the well of life,” and justifying grace, and Divine favour. “Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men; the Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus."
OUTWARD AND INWARD NOTES OF THE CHURCIL
2 Tim. i. 12.—“I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded
that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Alim against that day.
It is not to be supposed that any of us, in this fallen time, should be able to use these words of the great Apostle, as he used them. God who made us, has given to each of us his own place. Some He places in heathen countries, some in Christian ; some in the full light and grace of the Gospel, others amid shadows; some Ile visits almost with sensible tokens of His presence, others lle barely supports with the hope and surmise of it. Some lle leads forward only by intimations, and, as it were, whispers ; as the old Saints, who “ went out, not knowing whither they went ;" and died in faith, not receiving the promise.” And others, like St. Paul, have before now been granted visions of the third heaven, that full and intimate Presence of Christ, which enables the Apostle to say, in the words of the text,“ | know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that lie is able to keep that which I have committed unto Ilion against that day.”
Yet in spite of these great differences in God's dealings with man and man, there is this one thing the same in sill