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which now, in my view, there is nothing higher anywhere than the level of my own experience! Oh, what a comfort it is to have miracles shrink into common earthly things, and to know that nobody has ever seen them, any more than I have!" This would seem to be odd comfort; but there are persons whose needs it would seem to meet, because, perhaps, of some particular stand-point or turn, at which they have stopped on their path as enquirers.
The spirit of the age! Just as it is of this age precisely, so certainly is it but a bubble on that stream of spirit which comes down through all the ages of the past, and which will run on for men and through them, till they all on earth shall be no more. Soon, of the self-gratulation and self-glorification of the spirit of the time, all that will remain as palpable effect, will be a few very curious lines in the History of Man.
As certainly as the pendulum swings from side to side, as certainly as feeling is subject to revulsion, as certainly as man walks by one step to the right and another step to the left, so surely will the child born this year see in his generation, as a class, the merest men of science to be reverent believers, not only in the supernatural of the Scriptures, but because of analogy, curious students also in the idolatries of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and interested even in the superstition of the tribes of Africa, as seeming to suggest the possibility of some singular variations from the commonly received opinion as to spiritual influx.
This world of ours,—this world of our. eyes, and of the optical, electric, and other instruments, with which our eyes are helped, this world of our bodily senses has circumfused about it and permeating it a world of spirit, as to which philosophy conjectures confidently, and which faith is sure of, and as effects resulting from which experience tells of miracles. It may be that in some, perhaps even in many respects, this world may be the antitype of that world invisible; and it may be, as Plotinus has said, that we human beings are the dregs of the universe; but even if it should be so, between us dregs and the wine above there may be a great difference by inferiority, but there must also be a great likeness. To that spiritual world and this world of ours at least there is one thing in common, a great thing, the company of vanished friends we have had, who know of our wants and ways and wishes, and, at least, who wonder about us. Between us here and them over there, on some points there there must be affinity. And it may be, as sometimes philosophy has taught, that the atmosphere of that world, or rather, perhaps, an effluent, diffusive effect from it, may be necessary to our consciousness as thinking beings, just as the atmosphere
THE SPIRITUAL MAGAZINE.
113 of this earth is the breath which we draw in common with old me to earthly creatures, such as cats, dogs, and horses. It may so; and even should it be, that atmosphere of influences might be expected commonly to be imperceptible, and only very rarely to be distinctly noticeable, and strikingly so only in things which at once are denominated miraculous. But, whatever may be the philosophy of the connection between the world invisible of spirit and this visible world of us people in the flesh, that connection exists.
It is true that above and beyond the ordinary experience of mankind there is an influence sometimes felt, of which the effects are what is called miraculous, or wonder-causing ; and in the strength of which, it is possible that a common man might shew himself like an angel, for wisdom; and, with stretching out his hand, have it answer like the finger of God for miracles; and have indeed the inborn, latent faculties of his spirit so quickened as that both his words and deeds together would be like signs and wonders from heaven. And, it is true that the outgoings of this world are capable of being quickened by power from the world invisible, so as that a man might be converted from sin to holiness in a moment; and a man that is a leper be restored in an instant; and even in such a manner as that a dead man in the tomb might hear and come forth ; and so as that in a vessel, water might be so affected as that upon it might occur instantaneously what could otherwise only be the result of slow processes in the earth, on the vine, and at the wine-press, and afterwards. It is true, also, that now and then in the process of the ages there have been seasons in which, from the outpouring of the Spirit, young men have seen visions, and old men have dreamed dreams, which were signs and wonders, and proofs of that higher order of things which mortals belong to.
It is true that, from outside of the circle of human nature, there are influences for human spirits such as those which once for a simple maiden quickened forethought into the power of prophecy, and made strong feeling be the outgoing of angelic power, and caused the life of a peasant-girl of Domremy to become the career of Jean d' Arc; and such as those, with the experience of which George Fox grew to be a prophet and the mouthpiece of power from above; and under the sense of which John Wesley was wrought up to the recognition of spiritual marvels which the multitude could not believe, and at which still the majority can only laugh,-influences by which every now and then persons are able to affirm, some that they have felt themselves called, warned, or comforted; others, that they have been inspired for work such as otherwise they could only have wondered at and never have done; others, that they have
been conscious of having been guarded in times of exposure, sometimes by angels in form, and sometimes by tendencies started upon them, angelic as to their ends; and others, who have known, like Paul, what it is to be lifted up above the beggarly element of mere law into that liberty with which Christ has made men free,—the liberty of the Spirit,—which, indeed, as to the ends of service, is stricter than even the letter of the law, and which sometimes works on the mind of a person with all its power at once,-a manifold power which makes itself felt simultaneously as conviction for sin, absolution by grace, inspiration from above, and acceptance with God.
It is true that the Waldenses are worthy of belief, and that they believe that among them, at certain periods in their history, have been events sensibly pointed by the finger of God on their behalf. It is true that in the Cevennes, when the Huguenots were nearly in the last agony from persecution, there opened among them a power, by which the machinations of their enemies afar off were sometimes disclosed to them, as though by sudden revelation to one or other of their members,-a power which clothed them with such terror as that almost in the manner of the old promise, one of them could chase a thousand; and so as that, indeed, a mere handful of men, as they were, they resisted for years, and successfully, the concentrated armies of France; a power which, going out from a a speaker, made even Catholic enemies succumb and confess themselves ; a power which often uttered itself from the mouths of little children; a power through which they believed many times, and where it is impossible to think that there can have been mistakes, that there were let in upon their mortal ears the songs of the hosts of heaven. It is true that men worthy of all credence have testified of experiences by which the early history of the Church of Scotland is not unlike a continuation of the Book of Acts. And it is true that, by what the Spirit has been and has done amongst them, the Friends have been justified in trusting to it. It is true that, even in these latter centuries, there have been branches of the Church which have blossomed with the marvels of ancient times, because of the Spirit which has been in them. And it is true that still and now, there are good reasons for trusting and expecting the Spirit.
It is true, and the saints of all ages cannot have been deceived, or been self-deceived, as to what they felt and trusted ; the martyrs who, one after another, laid down their lives for Christ, until they became a great army; the fervent spirits, like Augustine, who tried one way of life and another, till at last, with turning about, their souls caught the light, at which they rejoiced with trembling; the scholars like Thomas Aquinas, who, with studying themselves as to the natural, became but the more persuaded as to a something that touched, or held, or drew, or whispered them that was supernatural; or students like Cudworth, who gathered up the experiences of the ages, and the thoughts of all great writers, as to what of a spiritual nature had ever been known or felt, and who gazed upon it till they saw the Intellectual System of the Universe take shape in it; and hosts after hosts of gentle souls, such as Madame Guion and the poet Cowper, who tasted, as they thought, of the powers of the world to come. It is true that, except when it gets impeded and disbelieved, there is an opening between this world and the next as it is called, by which comes the Holy Ghost, and through which it may be that sometimes we, some of us, are approachable by various occult influences, some of a high origin, and others of a nature not so good. And it is true that there are good reasons for believing that when Christians can pray again as Christians used to do, and have fitted themselves by acts of faith for seeing it, that there will be felt the approach of a day which, with its coming, will assimilate still more nearly than at present the lives of modern disciples to the experiences of the saints of all ages.
One swallow does not make a summer, nor does one Christian make a church. A believer separated from his fellows by convictions which they do not share; a man living apart from the sin about him, 'in loneliness; a woman shrinking from unsympathetic contact, and dwelling in seclusion with her own heart,—for these all there is communion with God by the Spirit. But there is an answer from above which is specially for the prayer of two or three. And on an age of controversy separating believers from one another, even though through it there should be higher and better ground to be reached, there is an irremediable, unavoidable drawback attendant,the loss of the unity of the Spirit. The joy which a man has in common with a multitude is not the same joy which he has all to himself in his closet. And, however a man may be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, through religious experiences apart from his neighbours, yet should he ever become one with a gre body, wherein by that same Spirit all the members are similated to one another and harmonized together, he w feel a triumphant joy quite new to him, and he would such a sweet confidence of God's love to men every and in every state, as would be for him like a new ser salvation.
Fearful is the penalty which the holiest of dissenters i and sometimes without knowing it, and even while, pe
it is the voice of Christ froin heaven which they obey; but they do not go without compensation from the grace of God, nor yet without that crown which is specially vouchsafed for the martyrs. But yet so it is, that in the Church of Christ, with losing the unity of the Spirit, or the Holy Spirit in common, there is a great, grievous loss.
The Spirit may be quenched, in the present age, from one cause and another, as so largely it is; but it can re-assert itself. If to-day be clouded by scepticism, to-morrow may be broad daylight from a “sun with healing on its wings.' And if in this age, because of sectarianism, Christians can hardly be what they ought to be, as to faith, hope, and charity, in the next age, perhaps, divisions will have ceased altogether. It may be asked, perhaps, how such a thing as that can ever be hoped for. And certainly it cannot be expected humanly, as though from controversies argued out. But, cven as Jesus Christ, after his resurrection, appeared among his disciples suddenly, while the doors were shut, so perhaps, will it be that the various churches of Christendom, which to-day have their doors shut against one another, will sometime find themselves all included in one great fold, by the manner in which, through the spirit, Christ will manifest himself, so as to be recognised of all, in one church and another, irrespectively of their walls of separation.
And at that time,-oh, dear anticipation, sure though as the heavens themselves, however far off,--at that time Christians will know one another, almost without a word, because of the spirit; and with assembling together they will feel joy in the Holy Ghost, such as at present public worship stirs but rarely. In meditation, also, because of the ease with which men will apprehend spiritual things, it will be as though they
were all taught of God." And while inquiring in some particular direction, where there is no seeing for the eye, and no hearing for the ear,--strange and holy experience, which only the holiest hearts are fit for !—while so inquiring, often for the natural man the darkness will yield to a light not of this world, nor of mere reason, but of the spirit quickening him from within, by which man sees what he could not otherwise have scen, and understands what is only to be spiritually apprehended; “for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
Strange and incomprehensible language this is for many persons. But yet it means what is the same thing as the words, * Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you;" that is drawing nigh to God, as a God to be met, for that is his nature, and meet you Ile will. Men, too, are encouraged to hope even