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is not more a matter of fact in the natural world, than the heavenly direction they feel is a fact in the moral world : and that a disposition often observed in men who were once the most reprobate, to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, is the proper effect of this influence. It is not indeed so easy to describe what passes in the moral as in the natural world. It would not have been possible for Zaccheus to have fully set forth the feelings with which he as readily quitted the gold in his coffers as the tree from which he descended.—Saul could not make the Pharisees or the Philosophers comprehend the nature of that full conviction, with which be counted all things but as dross for the earcellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord; nor the evidence which he had that it was his highest honour to suffer for his master's sake. Nor could my late friend, after having obtained the approbation of his hearers at the Royal Academy by his observations upon the Arts, have clearly conveyed, with those observations, the more interesting ones which he had made, and the perceptions which he had felt, in a superior science. For the religion, that is vital and experimental, has not only its common faith, but its correspondent feelings:—not only its peculiar objects, but its proper taste; which, like that for the Fine Arts, we must actually possess, in order to fully comprehend. From which premises two consequences
will naturally follow : 1. That a pious man will have stronger evidence of the truth and reality of his religion than he can fully demonstrate to others who are of a contrary character: and 2dly, That he can no more doubt the superiority of his choice and taste, because scorned by incompetent judges, than one, who had a taste for proportion or an ear for music, would doubt their existence from their being denied by such as had none. By this religious principle, therefore, found in all true believers, they not only resemble lines drawn from a wide circumference to a common centre; but, under the operation of an Almighty Spirit, a new and special direction is given to their desires and faculties towards the attainment of their only, their proper, and their appointed rest. By a moral sensation analogous to the natural, they feel the vanity and disorder of their present state—They see one chief good—They hear of one way to it—They savour the heavenly proposal—and, after receiving a taste for THAT, they find every other good comparatively insipid. But is this chief good, or the appointed way to it by a Redeemer, an invention of their own for a mere tradition of their fathers? On the contrary, they have irrefragable evidence that they were incapable of forming such an expectation—that man could not imagine it—but, that it is a hope set before them by HIM that cannot lie. Now it is this heavenly INFLUENCE under which they are, working faith and obedience, that constitutes their peculiar character, and identifies true religion, whensoever or wheresoever it is found. When, therefore, the enemies of such a profession bring forward the stale objection—“What is true religion? For we find it one thing in England, another in Scotland, a third at Rome, and often twenty different things in the same place—Settle this,” say they, “among yourselves, before you address us on the subject.”—We answer, it has long been settled. While you stumble at the supposed diversity, we both discern and admire the identity. We feel the fullest conviction, that real religion in itself, is so far from being a different thing in different places, that it is one and the same thing at all times, and in all places; and that, in those particulars which are absolutely essential to it, it will yield to the impositions of no time nor place, or its martyrs had not bled. In order to understand this, men should consider what real religion is; namely—the heart of fallen man under a divine influence, returning to God through a Mediator.—The Scriptures term this LIFE. As the life of the body is one and the same principle in all men,whatever difference there be observed in their respective complexions, habits, and forms: so real religion, which is the life of the soul, is one and the same principle, of a higher order indeed, but which equally identifies the subject: and, like the former, it is discerned by the
exercise of its proper faculties and acts—it requires the same almighty power to maintain as to create it—and is quite distinct from and superior to its accidents, and the circumstances among which it may be found. For God, who, in the first creation, commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath, in this new creation, shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; and this still continues to perform the most glorious of his miracles, the moral miracle of recovering the heart of an eccentric and exorbitant creature to his Creator. By this moral change, man is actually recovered to his God, to his neighbour, and to himself. Tell me not of the external forms and petty circumstantial distinctions with which his education or connections may have prejudiced his mind: they are but as his provincial dialect, his dress, or his complexion. The grand enquiry should be—Is the sinner humble and penitent before his God?— Is he seeking acceptance only through that Redeemer whom God hath set forth for a propitiation through faith in his blood?—Is he found walking in a course of holy obedience? If this be really his case, then call such a man by what term of distinction or epithet of reproach you please, still the man is alive to God, and will join his fellowbelievers in serving HIM; if not in the same modes, yet to the same ends: in the matter of their confessions, petitions, and praises, they will agree, however in the form of presenting them they may differ: there will be a unity, though not a uniformity; and thus the divine life of true religion, derived from a union with the one Living Head of the Church, will be identified by its essential properties and effects, in whatever Age or Church on earth it is found. Strip real religion, therefore, of that which is no essential part of it, or what is only accidental to it; and regard it as described in the Scriptures, and exemplified, though but imperfectly, in the true believer; and then you will find it the same under every dispensation. Thus, the same sense of need—choice of good—hope through a Redeemer—and good-will to men, dwelt in the hearts of Abraham and of Bacon. The latter could never more exactly express his feelings than in saying .................With the Patriarch's joy Thy call I follow to the land unknown: I trust in Thee, and know in whom I trust: Or life or death, is equal: neither weighs:
All weight in this—Oh let me live to thee!
I remember my friend saying, after church, on hearing a discourse upon Abraham's departure —“In this simplicity of holy aim and of implicit dependance, I think ALL the spiritual children of the father of the faithful are perfectly united.” I may add, too, that in this he was not only a