"AND THOU SHALT REMEMBER ALL THE WAY WHICH THE LORD THY GOD LED THEE THESE FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, TO HUMBLE THEE, AND TO PROVE THEE, TO KNOW WHAT WAS IN THY HEART, WHETHER THOU WOULDEST KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS OR NO." DEUT. VIII. 2.
IT has been hitherto the aim of these lectures to show the character and meaning of the chief sacrifices of the Old Covenant, and their correspondence with the Christian mysteries. We have seen how sacrifice is the means of access to GOD, and at the same time the expression of the life of the worshipper. Through sacrifice the worshipper stretches forth his hands and his heart to GOD, and thus obtains grace, while at the same time he pledges himself, presenting himself before GOD, as himself a living sacrifice in the same spirit in which he offers up the victim which represents him in the Divine Presence.
This may be called our devotional life. It consists of the services we offer within the sanctuary. It is the life of prayer and religious service. We have traced the progress of this life in its successive stages,--first the deliverance from death, next the offering of our redeemed persons to GOD, and then our union with the Divine Nature. This order is complete so far as concerns the mysteries of the sanctuary, and our participation through them in the life of GOD.
It is necessary however, in order to complete the picture, to consider the training of the character, the inner discipline of the soul, and its development in harmony with this devotional life. A common experience teaches us that our spiritual condition, while engaged in the services of the sanctuary, may be quite at variance with our life under the actual trials and temptations of the world. And yet consistency between the two is absolutely necessary in order to constitute a real life before GOD. To obtain this consistency, we need the concurrent influences of a true communion with GOD in His ordained services, and of the discipline of life under the guidance of His Providence.
To this latter subject we must now turn, and we may still look to the Old Testament Scriptures for illustrations of this further truth. We may learn from them the principles of training in the saintly life, as before we learnt from them the principles of sacrifice.
The Book of Numbers, which details the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness, and the Book of Joshua, which records their settlement in the Holy Land, contain, not merely annals of the early history of the chosen people, but also principles of life overruled by the Hand of GOD with the special object of moulding the people's character after His own purpose. In comparing these two books together, a striking difference is observable as to the condition of the people, their temptations and their sins. The former, the Book of Numbers, describes the history of the people in the earlier stage of its development; the latter, the Book of Joshua, describes them in a more advanced stage of their spiritual life.
The history of the Israelites in the wilderness has always been regarded as a graphic picture of the early struggles of life. Their rebellious murmuring at every hardship; their constant tendency to accuse GOD of neglect or cruelty; their frequent desire to return back into Egypt; their reluctance to bear the weariness of the way towards the Holy Land; their lusting after the food and the revelries which they had left behind them in Egypt; their loathing the heavenly manna, and constant distrust of GOD,--these feelings manifested again and again in repeated instances during the wanderings in the wilderness are evidently most significant, and under the veil of historical events re-present with singular vividness a mind not fully reconciled to GOD'S guidance, undecided as to its course and aim, looking wistfully back to selfish ease and enjoyment, resenting and complaining of the trials of religion, while yet constrained to submit to its commands, believing too much to be able to cast off its yoke, and yet loving the world and self too well to make religion a real life and joy.
The close of the wanderings in the wilderness was marked by a manifest change in the character of the people, the result of the long course of discipline to which they had been subjected. After their arrival at the Jordan we read no more of the desire to return to Egypt, nor any complaining at GOD'S dealings; but rather a determined resolution to devote themselves to His service, a full acceptance of the Covenant, and a zealous giving themselves at any cost to strive for the conquest of the Holy Land. There is an honest, hearty determination manifest in the words with which the people respond to Joshua's appeal on his taking the command of the host; "And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us, we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go."
An improved character had been formed, and feelings were influencing them, very different from those in which their fathers had gone forth from Egypt. Accordingly the faults of the Israelites after their entrance into the Holy Land, as well as the temptations to which they were exposed, widely differed from those exhibited in the wilderness. They were then tempted to overconfidence in their own strength and knowledge, not looking enough to prayer and inquiring of GOD, as in the case of the deception of the Gibeonites, and the defeat at Ai; or to sloth, as in settling down too easily and too quickly in their conquests, instead of contending against the enemies of GOD, till they were wholly overcome; or to forgetfulness of GOD in the hour of victory, and withholding from Him His due offering, as in the case of Achan and the Babylonish garment. The incidents which occur in this period of their course, represent under the veil of history an advanced development of life, while yet full of imperfections, the resolution to give up all to GOD, and yet falling short of the truth of its self-dedication, a defect in consistency of faith, in the spirit of prayer, in steady perseverance and laborious diligence, and the thought of the glory of GOD as a constant aim, while yet true in purpose, and steadfast in the primary articles of belief.
The history of the wilderness is that of persons, whose intentions are imperfect, and to whom trial is as yet a strange intolerable burden. The history of the times of Joshua is that of persons whose intentions are become sincere, while yet the lingering faults of the old nature render their fulfilment imperfect. The one was a constrained service, with constant weariness, and repeated rebellions, such as often mark the ordinary beginnings of an improved life. The other was a free and resolved service, but with an unchastened self, and manifold infirmities.
Such, speaking very generally, is the picture which the earlier Scriptures present of the gradual development of the elect people of GOD, when viewed as a whole, under the ordinary standard of life aimed at in the Mosaic Covenant.
But there were special trainings of certain chosen persons, leading them on to yet higher degrees of sanctity, and forming grander, holier, and more beautiful developments of spiritual life. The chief instance of this special greatness is found in Abraham. His is the first recorded instance of a human life trained under the immediate guidance of GOD. The history of his training and development is recorded with a peculiar care and fulness, because he was the commencement of the line from which CHRIST should at last arise. He is therefore the type of the discipline of a perfected humanity. Abraham was the morning star of the Incarnation, as we, if true to its risen life, are the "children of the Day."
Called from his father's home, and the associations and ties of early years, to go forth, "not knowing whither he went," to be ever afterwards a wanderer, having no certain dwelling-place; having no land, but only a burying-place; all the while invested with great promises on which to feed his soul's aspirations and high communion with the invisible world, yet waiting for their fulfilment, till his heart must have grown sick, looking for the child of promise, while feeling himself and his wife Sarah, as the long years passed, becoming as good as dead, and no sign appearing of the promised blessing; the several members of his family gradually parted from him, and himself becoming more and more separate and alone,--such briefly is the tale of Abraham's earlier life. The object and effect of this training were evidently to subordinate to the will of GOD the yearnings of nature, the affections of the natural heart, the attachments to kindred and place, the impulses of sense and desire; to lead him to live by pure faith, above nature, in the calm assurance of the guidings of GOD and anticipations of a blessed future, while continually sacrificing himself on the altar of an unquestioning obedience.
His faith reached its highest point in the sacrifice of his son Isaac. Beside other great purposes of this mysterious crisis of his history, one chief purpose is expressly revealed; "God did tempt," i.e., test, "Abraham." Was this merely to determine whether he was capable of being raised above the tenderest and purest natural yearning, so as to make a complete surrender of thought and heart in unison with the will of GOD, and in trust upon Him? There was indeed the repose of an unquestioning faith in surrendering the child of the promise to death, "accounting that GOD was able to raise him up, even from the dead." And it was also the triumph of faith over all the acute sensitiveness of natural yearnings. But it was also intended to prove, in a yet finer sense, the complete weaning of his heart from all merely natural feelings, that the pure consciousness of the supernatural, the Divine, might take their place, and prevail over all inward instincts. Isaac was equally the child of promise and the child of nature. There was consequently in Abraham's heart a divided feeling. The spiritual joy in the promised seed which was to bless the nations, and the parental affection for the offspring of his own body,'--these together struggled within him. These divided attachments must have alternately swayed the bosom of the Saint. But if his faith, which was "accounted to him for righteousness," was to be perfected, he must learn to view his son no longer according to the dictates of natural affection, but purely according to the law and affections of grace. He must give back his son to GOD by an act from which there could be no withdrawal, crucifying his natural clinging to him, that the parent may return to the state of pure faith in which he had walked with GOD before he received his child; and, this grace being wrought in him, receive him back again to possess him thenceforward only as the son of the promise, no longer the offspring of the flesh, the child of grace, not of nature. In the trial-hours of that agony of death, which, if his own hand did not actually deal it to his child, his heart had accepted and willed to execute, there was developed in Abraham's soul this high state of pure selfless supernatural correspondence with the Divine purposes, the entire subordination of his own desires and will to the Will of the Supreme GOD. It was the crowning act of the long course of discipline, the actual attainment of the state which GOD had purposed to work in His servant. Then instantly flowed forth, as though touched by a sudden spring, the fulness of Divine blessing:--"By Myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed My voice." [Gen. xxii. 16-18. The application of this remarkable blessing to the perfecting of Abraham's obedience is as important and unquestionable, as to the other and kindred view of the trial referred to in the last lecture. It therefore needed to be quoted under both its aspects.]
We may take one other instance of the training of individual souls of a higher order for the attainment of a higher development of sanctity, one of a different kind, and exhibited in a person of a very different character. Jacob's was a far weaker nature than Abraham's, and stained with far greater sin. There was especially in Jacob a subtlety tending at times to actual deceit, and a self-reliance leading him to trust in merely natural schemes independently of GOD. The great sin of his early life was, that, instead of trusting GOD'S promises to GOD Himself, he sought to compass them by schemes of his own devising. Unscrupulous often as to means, he would thus involve GOD in his deceits, causing Him to appear as the abettor and justifier of his sinful means of attaining righteous ends. Although the eventful act of obtaining his father's blessing was a mystery overruled of GOD to His own purposes, we can hardly fail to see at work beneath the outward scene marks of the character of the agent. Jacob's faith, earnestness, love, deep resolve, unswerving perseverance, in pursuing the promised blessing attached to his father's heritage, were unquestionable, and of the highest order; but his natural confidence, and attachment to earthly schemings, needed to be broken down, and his subtlety of disposition to be done away; and in their stead humility, and pure simple trust ever waiting upon GOD, to take their place.
The great change that marked the character of Jacob in his later, as contrasted with his earlier, years, may be traced to the remarkable vision vouchsafed to him in the night after his return to the Holy Land, when he wrestled with the Angel. Just before that vision occurred, Jacob's spirit had been profoundly stirred with anxious fears. His brother Esau was approaching, and when they last parted, he had sworn to wreak his vengeance, and take his brother's life. He was now coming with a strong force. "Thy brother Esau cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him." Jacob was "greatly afraid and distressed." It was in this terror of dismay that he uttered that earnest prayer, the first of the kind recorded of him, though he had passed through so many crises of fear and distress. "And Jacob said, O GOD of my father Abraham, and GOD of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me; Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant, for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude." It was the prayer of a man who apparently for the first time fully felt all his natural strength break down in the face of a powerful foe; the utterance of a deep heart-moved conviction that his one and only real resource was in the mercy of GOD, in the power of the covenanted promises of His grace. As the night drew on, Jacob separated himself from his company, and he "was left alone, and there wrestled a Man with him, until the breaking of the day." Jacob at first supposed that the mysterious Adversary was but a man, and he put forth his full strength against him and wrestled with him, as though by his own natural power he could prevail. But GOD was in the visible form of the unearthly wrestler, and it was GOD'S purpose to prove to His servant, that in his own strength he must fail, and only in the Divine aid overcome. All night that mysterious wrestling continued, even "until the breaking of the day." Neither would Jacob relax his own struggling grasp, nor would his Adversary yield to Jacob's efforts. It was Humanity refusing to acknowledge its own nothingness, and Deity waiting to implant this conviction. "When (the 'Man') saw that he prevailed not against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him." It was then, not till then, there broke in upon Jacob's soul the consciousness of the Presence before Whom he was standing, of Him against Whom he was contending. Then came an instantaneous change over the scene. The "Man" said, "Let Me go, for the day breaketh." But Jacob now fully perceiving Who the mysterious Warrior was, and perceiving his sin and his danger, a danger more terrible far than that which he had apprehended from his brother Esau--a Hand more mighty than he had ever yet felt pressing upon him--he turns to his GOD in simple trust; he has recourse to the plea of utter helplessness, to absolute dependence on the irresistible strength of prayer. "And he said, I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." Then it was that Jacob found, what GOD had taught him in that mysterious vision, that his true power, in which alone he could prevail, was in faith and supplication. As before in Abraham's case, who by a true correspondence with the Divine Will in the closing trial of his life, won his final blessing; so now to Jacob, when his soul was surrendered up to GOD in entire dependence, came the crowning blessing of his life. The unearthly Voice spoke, and inquired; "What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob,"--the old nature conversant with deceit and self-trust has passed away,--"but Israel," a conqueror through the power of faith in GOD, "shalt thou be called; for as a Prince hast thou power with GOD and with men, and hast prevailed..... And GOD blessed him there." It was the sealing of Divine acceptance in the communication of a new power and hope, as the conviction arose and mastered his soul, that by pure faith the servant of GOD lives and prevails; that when he is weak, then he is strong. "As Jacob passed over Penuel, the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh." It was an outward symbol to mark for ever the consciousness wrought triumphantly within him. He had obtained power thenceforth to walk in the light of a truer knowledge of GOD, but with the fleshly frame, the natural self, yielded up, broken and overcome.
[Gen. xxxii. I have adopted Kurtz's explanation of this mysterious scene. He says:--"Our interpretation of this wrestling differs from that hitherto common in this--that we do not find the reason of the victory of Jacob over JEHOVAH, in the continuance of his bodily wrestling, as a symbol of spiritual wrestling, but that, on the contrary, we regard this very bodily wrestling as representing the perversity which had characterised his former life. The dislocation of his thigh constitutes the turning-point of the history. Formerly his wrestling had been bodily, but its continuation had become impossible when his thigh was out of joint. He now betakes himself to other weapons, and his wrestling becomes spiritual. These two kinds of wrestling, the one in his bodily strength, the other in the spiritual strength of prayer, are eyidently opposed to each other; and Jacob prevails through the latter, and not through the former."--History of the Old Covenant. Clark: Edinburgh.]
One special feature must be added, characteristic generally of the more distinguished Patriarchs of Israel. They were taught, that the saintly life formed in them was not for themselves. The promises for which they lived, necessarily precluded the idea of life as centring in themselves. Every fresh endowment of their growing life was associated with the idea of living for others. Their calling was for the nations, for the world; for GOD to come, to be glorified in blessing all mankind. The powers and destinies of the life which was in them, were a trust committed to them for the benefit of the whole creation of GOD. The salvation of the world was involved in their own spiritual elevation. To be channels of grace for the whole family of mankind, was the very purpose which was continually set before them. To have nothing, except as holding it for others, was of the very essence of their own development. They could not think of themselves without thinking also of the world which, through them, was to be blessed. Their falls and defects of faith were the frustrating of the designs of GOD for the overthrow of the powers of evil in the fulfilment of the predestined glory which, in His Only-begotten SON, He had purposed from all eternity. Their faithfulness and their successes were as so many steps in the furtherance of those stupendous designs, preparing the way, and hastening the time, for the glorious manifestation of GOD in their very flesh.
The views of life on which we have dwelt under the imperfect conditions of the Old Covenant, are but types of higher realities in our greater nearness to GOD, our fuller possession of the Life of GOD. We, too, are taught in the New Covenant the twofold development and the twofold standard of spiritual life. "If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments," is our LORD'S simple statement of the great truth, that a high unselfish fulfilment of the new law in subjection to GOD under the discipline of His Providence in the ordinary trials of life, is the true development of the regeneration which is the bestowal of the Divine Nature to every man alike who is called according to the purpose of GOD in his training for his future home in Heaven. And this training, which is necessary for all alike, has its progressive stages; its earlier periods, as of Israel in the wilderness, with the many strugglings against the discipline of GOD, and murmurings at each denial of the natural cravings for indulgence; its later periods, marked by the growing acceptance of the gracious Will of GOD, and the promises of His love, but with the natural self too often intermingling with the workings of His Spirit, and marring the victories of His grace, as with Israel in the Holy Land.
Moreover, a higher development of spiritual life, beyond the ordinary standard, manifests itself in the New, as in the Old, Covenant, as the more perfect expression of the Divine Presence and grace, raising to a more supernatural state those whom He thus calls and draws by special inspirations, disciplining by special influences, fitting for the fulfilments of His Will in more lofty efforts of His grace. This our LORD announced in the verses following the words just quoted, as announcing the law of life necessary to all. "Behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, GOD: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto Him, Which? JESUS said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness; Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?" And then our LORD answered--not giving to the inquirer, as might have been expected, an injunction to a more complete, more spiritual and self-sacrificing fulfilment of these high enactments of the Divine Law; nor merely impressing on his mind an evangelical view of the depth and spiritual application of the moral code, and thus perfecting a weak and inadequate application of its true meaning,--but uttering words which fell on his startled ear, as a call to sacrifices beyond all these first and essential requirements, raising his view and innermost nature, to apprehend a greater nearness to his GOD, by a greater triumph over himself; an aspect of life, not new to the world, for the Patriarchs and a long line of the saints of Israel had witnessed to its truth and power, but new to the Israel of that day, new to its children in their then fallen state. "JESUS said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me."
There arose in after days, as the true expression of this call of GOD falling on the hearts of those more capable of receiving it, in the New, as before in the Old Covenant, manifold forms of devotion and self-sacrifice,--the forsaking "houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for My Name's sake," "to receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting;" "the having no certain dwelling-place;" "the labour, working with our own hands;" the virgin life, choosing to be "as the Angels of GOD in heaven;" "the faith which can remove mountains;" the charity which could even be "accursed from CHRIST for my brethren;" and all these things "with persecutions;" all the while to be "as dying, and behold we live, as chastened and not killed, as sorrowful yet alway rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." These great developments of supernatural power in man have been created at all times and among all nations, as the expression of the full purpose of the mind of CHRIST, the more heroic aspects of the saintly life, its special manifestations in those who had ears to hear, and hearts to obey, these high callings of Divine love.
There has been formed, moreover, in the New, equally as in the Old Covenant, as the consequence of this higher development, a correspondingly advanced fitness and capacity for a higher communion with GOD. We have seen how to Abraham and to Jacob,--the same grace being vouchsafed in numberless instances to the saints of Israel,--visitations of Angels, and manifestations of GOD, were given to be their own peculiar blessing, specially reserved to them, because in them alone was found a congeniality of mind, and preparation of heart, suited to the Divine intercourse. So in like manner there are reserved within the kingdom of the Incarnation like special joys of a higher, nearer communion, for some than for others, although the callings of ordinary life are essential to the maintenance of the world, and the will of GOD is to be worked out by every man in every state wherein he is called to abide with GOD. Although pure married life is, and must ever be, the earthly channel of the creation of the saints of GOD, and true Christian homes the nursery of their early development; yet there is a union of thought and sympathy, and an inner fellowship between CHRIST and those whom He hath called to rise above the ordinary track of natural duties, which is specially their blessed heritage. Our LORD'S spirit could find a rest in Mary, which He could not find in Martha. He was drawn by a special friendship to S. John, which was denied even to S. Peter. The Virgin-born can still be served without distraction by the unmarried in a way hardly possible to the married, and "the Son of Man Which is in Heaven" even while He is on earth, can reveal more and more of heaven to the soul, as more and more of earth's fond ties are surrendered for heavenly love and ministries pf mercy; for a life wholly devoted to contemplation, to prayer, and union with the mind and work of CHRIST.
Once more, it must be added, that as in the Old, so now in the New Covenant, these supernatural gifts, these special endowments of the Spirit, are given to every man, not for himself, but "to profit withal" for the good of others,--not to cause distinctions, exalting one above another, but for the edifying of the Body of CHRIST; for "they which live," and therefore more especially they that live the higher forms of life, should "no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him Which died for them, and rose again." And as the first and noblest saints of the old Covenant lived more in being a blessing to "the nations of the earth," than for their own personal joy in GOD, even so they also in whom are manifested the higher developments of Christian faith and love and self-sacrifice, the brighter stars studding the luminous atmosphere of the milky way of the Christian hemisphere, shine out, not to rejoice in the kindling of their own fires, but "for signs and for seasons, and for days, and for years, for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon earth;" to be like the angels whom they emulate, who while "always beholding the Face of their FATHER which is in Heaven," are at the same time "ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation."
There is then a discipline of life, as there is a sacramental grace of life. To the great mass of mankind, to almost all the poor of CHRIST, the discipline of the Providence of GOD in the circumstances and order of the world, forms of necessity the main agency which is at work to develop their renewed nature. Such discipline is to them, in a great measure, in the stead of Sacraments, fulfils the work of Sacraments, causing their life to be the exercise of a perpetual self-sacrifice, while they minister in the courts without, with comparatively infrequent access to the inner offices of the sanctuary. But there is in such cases no difference of principle, only a question of degree. To none, not even to those who live the life of highest contemplation and most frequent communion, can the training of outward circumstances be dispensed with. Rather it is as essential as the grace of sacraments, more constant in its operation, more frequent in its demands, and often harder in its requirements. This is the reason why home life, even the world's life, is so influential in the growth of character, so continually developing, even under what seems a state barren of spiritual privileges, such high and often surprising forms of sanctity.
The same principle explains the fact, that in the cloister there is such need of a controlling discipline, and the pressure of a constant outward rule. Nowhere can this law of the order of the Providence of GOD be set at nought. Even the spirit of contemplation and prayer requires its chastening influences to check their possible unhealthy tendencies, to give them practical vigour, reality and self-restraint; to teach self-sacrifice and the subdual of the will.
One practical caution needs to be added. It is common to suppose that a passive acquiescence in the trials of life is the fulfilment of their intended end, On the contrary, it is their least important result. The real gain to be obtained through the discipline of GOD in any appointed trial, depends on an active co-operation with it. The will must be conformed, as well as subdued. It must unite with GOD, not merely yield to GOD. A true living union rests on co-operation, not on submission. To infuse into the soul in every trial the lesson it would teach, the spirit of sacrifice it involves, or the self-denial it would elicit, the secret conquest of temper, or the increasing earnestness of faith, the sweetness of patience, or the largeness of love, which it is intended to mature, as the needed advance in the progressive development of the soul's life--is the result contemplated, and not merely that the soul of the redeemed should learn to live in passive obedience to an irreversible will.
Union with GOD in mind and action is the end alike of the grace of sacraments, and of the discipline of life. And the tending to this end under the influence of the holy Light which ever guides us on, depends on a constant readiness of the will to coalesce with the expressions of the will and purpose of GOD. The constant yielding of affection and desire to the changing circumstances of the Providence of GOD, is the condition which His grace demands for accomplishing His purpose in us. To yield oneself to each expression of the will of GOD with a willing inclination; to bear all the cost of the sacrifice with an affectionate cleaving to GOD, as He reveals Himself in His own chosen course; to live in rest upon the assurance that He will make all work together for good to them that thus love Him--this is the secret animating principle of the soul which seeks to conform itself to His mind Who revealed in Himself the perfectness of our nature, and Who would speak for all who are His, as for Himself, when He said, "I come to do Thy will, O GOD; I am content to do it; yea, Thy law is within My heart." The inward assent, the moulding of the heart, the secret constant acceptance of His will, the thankful conformity to His perfect mind, as in His inward revelations of Himself or His Providence it is made known to us,--this marks the likeness, and sets upon us the seal by which in the great day of account we shall be owned and accepted of Him for ever in the "manifestation of the sons of GOD."