VICAR OF HURSLEY, IN THE DIOCESE OF WINCHESTER.
JOHN HENRY AND JAMES PARKER.
THIS Sermon is published not simply in deference to the request of friends who heard it,—of one especially whose wish came with authority,—but also because, so sanctioned, it may possibly help to draw attention to the real issue in the great controversy between the Catholic Church in its several branches on the one side, and the sects and schools, Ultra-Protestant or Rationalistic, on the other. That issue I take to be, Whether, believe it or not as men please, their standing as Christians be not indeed "on holy ground;" whether we be not indeed "under the cloud," separated from Egypt and the wilderness and the whole outer world, as the children of Israel were, only having God infinitely nearer unto us than He was even unto them.
I remember one departed from among us, eminent for many good gifts, but (as I sadly believe) greatly misled and misleading on this and kindred points,—what surprise he expressed at finding that the miracle of Pentecost was supposed to be really though invisibly continued in the Church, whereas he had been used to regard it as a manifestation vouchsafed for a time only, by way of outward credentials. The theories which are even now disturbing us remind me perpetually of this sentiment, whereof they appear to be so many legitimate developments. With a view to this, the subject of the Sermon was selected.
It will not be irrelevant, nor yet, I hope, presumptuous, if I say here that these bad developments appear to me to culminate in the two recent decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which are now such a trouble and alarm to us. For indeed they remind one but too distinctly of the two first suggestions which brought sin into our world:—"Hath God said it?" "is this indeed His word?" and, "Ye shall not surely die;" "He might not mean what He said."
But I am anxious to add to this, that how sadly soever these sentences, so long as they stand, affect the well-being of the Church of England, they will not, that I can see, imperil her life and being as a true portion of the Catholic Church, until she have ceased to disavow them and to seek their revocation. That she is bringing grievous sin upon herself, and may expect heavy judgments from the Almighty, for every moment that she bears with such profane interference as seems inseparable from the action of that Court as now constituted,—besides the direct wrong done to two of her Parishes, and the scandal before all Christendom by the primâ facie allowance of fundamental error,—I cannot, alas ! have the smallest doubt.
Hursley, June 6, 1864.
ACTS ii. 23.
"AND FEAR CAME UPON EVERY SOUL."
ONE may imagine a person pausing upon these words in somewhat of wondering disappointment, occurring as they do in the midst of the brightest and most engaging description of human happiness on this side the grave that even the Word of God anywhere presents to us.
Here are our Lord's Mother, His Apostles and Saints, rewarded for their willing and cheerful resignation of Him at His departure, and for their devout and patient waiting afterwards. Here is the promise fulfilled, after no more than ten days' separation. The windows of heaven are opened for the "gracious rain" to come down: the doors of heaven are opened, to shew Christ's beloved the "pure River of the water of life, proceeding out of the Throne of God and of the Lamb," and beginning to flow along the street of the Holy City.
Christ is come, not indeed in Body, but by a nearer, far nearer Presence,—by His Spirit: not only with them, but within them. In Him they now live by a new life, which they have entirely from Him; a life which is both His and theirs; whereby they are so joined to Him, as to be verily and indeed "partakers of a Divine nature."
Yes, my brethren, this and no less was the mysterious Whitsun privilege and glory of those on whom first the Holy Ghost came down: a glory so high and inconceivable, that the holy Fathers did not hesitate to call it even Deification, and Christianity, which teaches and confers it, they called "a deifying discipline." [e.g. S. Ath. Ep. ad Adelph., § 5, t. i. 914. A.: "He became Man, that He might, in Himself deify us;'' S. Cypr. de Zelo, &c., i. 226, ed. Fell: "That in thee the Divine Birth may shine out, and the deifying discipline work answerably to thy parentage, which is of God."]
And it was not to be their privilege only, but ours also and our children's. To all, far and near, both in time and space, it was to appertain, "even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Here then is another aspect of the joy and glory of that day. The kingdom of God so long promised, so long declared to be at hand, is now really come to them, and they are come to it: it is within them, within each of them, and they are within it; even as our fathers passing under the cloud both breathed it and were enveloped in it. And not only so, but they know by faith, and now begin to see with their eyes, that it is to spread like leaven inwardly, and grow like a grain of mustard-seed outwardly. And they find themselves chosen out of the world to be the first in that kingdom, unto whom visibly, as unto their Lord invisibly, all that come after arc to be gathered. This, I say, was another bright honour for the birthday of the Church, and another deep joy for the chosen few from whom it began: three thousand converted by the first Christian sermon, and receiving by water the same gift which had come upon the Apostles under the image of fire: all submitting themselves at once to the new law in its fulness, and all calm and resolute in so doing: continuing "stedfastly" (the word in the original implies not simply perseverance, but perseverance with courage and self-denial) "in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers." All the while many signs and wonders were being wrought by the Apostles' hands; and by the general body this great sign and wonder, that in order to separate themselves more effectually from the world, and to form a holy brotherhood for their Lord's work, they went very far in renouncing all they had: very many, perhaps the majority, even selling their possessions and goods, (their property real and personal,) and distributing them to the poor and needy. With one mind they went on, like good Israelites, keeping the hours of prayer daily in the Temple, and then retiring to one or other of their houses to celebrate Holy Communion, and following it up by the Feast of Charity—their first meal each day,—of which they partook in common. All this they practised "with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people;" and the number of persons so saved was daily increasing, by the grace of Christ.
What was all this but a very heaven upon earth?' But how strange and unexpected, that in the very midst of this blessed and wondrous rehearsal, not as a qualification or exception at the end of it, but as part of the blessing and the wonder, the statement should occur, "Fear came upon every soul!" Did it come upon those only who were without, to win them to Christ? No: for the clause stands not in connection with "The Lord was adding to the Church daily those who were being saved," but follows immediately on the enumeration of the things in which they were "continuing stedfastly." Therefore the fear spoken of came also upon those within; upon the Church; upon the whole Church, and upon every soul in it: yea, even upon all those great saints, around whom the new Israel was gathering—the Mother of Jesus and His holy Apostles. The emphatic phrase, "every soul," will not admit of any exception.
So placed, the words may seem intended to announce part of the fulfilment of a great Whitsuntide prophecy, of more than seven hundred years' standing'. Zion's "Light," the Lord Jesus Christ, "is come, and the Glory of the Lord," the Holy Ghost, "is risen upon her." The word hath gone forth for herself also to "arise and shine," and for the glory which is upon her to be seen; "the darkness yet covering the earth, and gross darkness the people." She is invited to lift up her eyes and see the nations beginning to trust themselves with her as her children; "all they gather themselves together, they come to thee; thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side." And then the significant saying follows: "Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged." "Thou shalt flow together." What is that? The original word seems to mean literally "shalt be swollen as a river by feeders, tributary streams converging towards thee." And what will be the first result? We might have expected, 'Thine heart shall rejoice,' or be strengthened, or refreshed, or, as presently follows, "enlarged." But as it is, "Thine heart shall fear:" and on that fear, not without it, will follow the true enlargement of the heart.
This mention of fear in the prediction corresponds critically with that in the history, and both together introduce us as it were to a foreseen and foreordained note of the true Church, over and above those well-known four, with which St. Luke's narrative has made us familiar. The kingdom of Heaven before it came was appointed to be known, and when it came it was known, not only by the Apostolical Creed, the Apostolical ministry, the Apostolical Eucharist, and the Apostolical prayers; but also by a certain (so to call it) Apostolical fear. Not only did they "continue stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers," but "Fear came upon every soul." The true, Heaven-descended, Pentecostal Church may even now be known by this mark among others, that from her first rudiments under the old dispensation to her full scriptural development in the later books of the New Testament,—from the flower until the grape was ripe,—she has been a school of holy fear, as well as of holy faith and love and all other graces. As David taught and Solomon repeated, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," so St. Paul distinctly intimates, that the very work of a Christian on earth is to be cleansing himself "from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God: "and this after appealing most earnestly to their faith in the indwelling Spirit; "God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them."
To a plain devout reader, who just takes the Bible as he finds it, it must seem strange that any argument should be thought necessary on this point, any care taken to prove it. But the self-deceiving heart of man is naturally ingenious enough, and there is one, unhappily, always at hand to render it more and more ingenious, in devising how to escape the hard necessity which the Gospel has laid upon us all, of so fearing God as really to keep His commandments. Satan has his refinements in doctrine for the educated and sentimental, as well as his sensual temptations for the coarse and rude; and as he seems to be particularly busy with the former at this period, and in this part of Christendom, I trust it will not be found unsuitable either for the conclusion of the Pentecostal season, or for the annual dedication (so to call it) of one year's more work in this place, (which most assuredly is Pentecostal work,) if I now try to speak a little more in detail of the fear of God as a Pentecostal grace, how we may best apply it; as Christians, each one for his own good; and as priests, or preparing to be such, each one for the good of the souls with whom he may be entrusted.
"Fear," we read, "came on every soul;" on the inhabitants of Jerusalem generally: for doubtless the expression relates, in part, to those who were even yet without the Church. Among them the movement which had originated from St. Peter's sermon was going on, and that more and more rapidly. It was ever gathering strength, and compelling men to come in. The impulse we know began in fear, the ordinary fear of judgment to come, the compunction and misgiving by which Almighty God most commonly begins to draw sinners to Himself. Why were there so many daily conversions? Because more and more were "pricked to the heart," as the first three thousand had been, at the thought of having made the Almighty Judge their enemy. And not only here, but all through the book of Acts, much as the inspired orators differ otherwise among themselves, you will hardly find a sermon to unbelievers, but it addresses itself to this fear, the fear (in one word) of hell. "The great and notable day of the Lord;" souls to be "destroyed from among the people;" Christ "the Judge of quick and dead;" "the Man ordained to judge the world in righteousness;" reasonings about "righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,"—these are among the arrows constantly aimed by Apostolic champions with subduing power at the heart of the King's enemies. How should it be otherwise, since the King Himself had most unreservedly sanctioned by His example that awful kind of warfare. Alas for those who, calling themselves Christian moralists, can find it in their heart to think scorn of that fear, aye, and of that hope also, to which Christ so solemnly and so often appealed! "Do all," they seem to say, "for love, not for fear of punishment or hope of reward:" as if the penalty and the reward which Christians look to were in reality any other than the separation from, or enjoyment of, Him whom their soul loveth. Evidently the Pentecostal fear condemns at once such reasoning as this.
Others again, more perhaps than the former, allow and unsparingly employ the fear of God's judgments as an instrument of conversion, but think it unworthy to abide in a converted soul. These, however, would no less vainly seek for any warrant from that first and best Church. The compunction which caused the cry, "What shall we do?" can hardly be supposed to have departed at once from the convert's soul at the moment of baptism; on the contrary, it would deepen with his sense of his Saviour's mercy; he would be more and more afraid to offend Him; as he loved more, the thought of losing the Beloved would be more intolerable. Again, with the infinite worth of the unspeakable gift his immense responsibility would be better understood, and, like a man standing nearly balanced on the narrow edge of a precipice, he would be often imagining, What if I were to throw myself down! and the mere idea would thrill him with great fear. No wonder, then, that instead of "confidence and gaiety," fear and trembling should be the temper in which men are invited to work out their own salvation; part, so to speak, of the normal condition of Christians in this world. [Bishop Taylor.] And observe, the very reason for this is a reason grounded on the doctrine of this season: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
Observe again, elsewhere, how the maxim so grounded was intended to search the conscience through and through, and to insert itself into all the little corners and minor recesses of man's life. Had Titus, coming with a message from St. Paul, been received worthily by the people of Corinth? they are praised for welcoming him with fear and trembling, for some of Christ's glory was upon him. Is a Christian slave to be cautioned touching his duty to his master, "Be obedient to them that are your masters .... with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart?" The reason is presently given: "As unto Christ." It is the greatness, the constant presence, the divinity of the unspeakable Gift by which every duty is done, which causes the duty to become so great and awful, and which throngs the whole of a man's course alike with glorious opportunities and exceeding dangers. It could not be otherwise but on the supposition, most untenable surely and un-evangelical, of grace indefectible and absolute assurance in those who should receive the regenerating Spirit at all.
You will ask, How does all this agree with the teaching of the beloved disciple, "There is no fear in love;" "Perfect love casteth out fear;" "He that feareth is not made perfect in love?" Of course we must consider that there are various kinds and objects of fear. The slavish animal shrinking from bodily torment and from the loss of earthly delight, the fear of hell in that sense, is God's merciful instrument for opening to Himself an access to the lost and corrupt heart: thousands will bless Him for it in eternity; and little do they, know of their brethren, how high soever their own rate of goodness may be, who depend on winning souls without it. But as conversion and repentance go on, and heavenly love takes root and flourishes within, this fear gradually tempers itself into a serious abiding horror at the thought of possibly losing Christ after all. I have no doubt of His love, no doubt of my own privileges, but I am miserably mistrustful of myself, of my own weakness and instability or worse. This of course is of the nature of chastisement, and mars the perfection of love in this world. Nevertheless God's special grace, with long, sweet, sober experience, may effectually mitigate this also; and some may approach, one knows not how near, to the frame of mind expressed in the saintly Missionary's prayer, where love swallows up the thought of self in the way either of fear or hope:—
"O God, my God, I do love Thee;
Nor love I that Thou may'st save me,
Nor because those who love not Thee
In endless flames shall punish'd be."
We may pray to have it so, but not perhaps absolutely, not without entire submission. In no wise may we safely insist on it, as a test either for ourselves or others.
I repeat it; in love there is no slavish fear, but there may be, and generally had better be in this world, a serious apprehension of losing Christ, as of something but too possible.
But moreover, Holy Scripture tells of a "Fear of the Lord" which is altogether "clean" and pure, "and endureth for ever;" a fear in which not only the saints on earth, but the very angels in heaven perpetually live. No thought in it of pain or loss: it is the deep awe and trembling reverence, in angels, of the creature before the Creator; in saints, of the fallen child before the forgiving Father, of the penitent before the Judge and Redeemer, of the believer before the indwelling Sanctifier. Perhaps in strictness of language it ought not to be spoken of as fear, but as intense unspeakable adoration, a bowing down to the Light unapproachable, the Presence of which no creature can be worthy. Something like this may be the consummation of that reverence and godly fear, which St. Paul urges on the Hebrew Christians by the remembrance of Mount Sinai, and by the comparison of it with Mount Sion, the Church of God, the heavenly Jerusalem. He points out that on Sinai as well as on Sion there was this reverential sense of unworthiness: "Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:" not altogether from bodily fear, but even as before at the bush on the same mountain he had "hidden his face, for he was afraid to look upon God." "And the people removed and stood afar off," desiring Moses to go near and speak for them; and the Lord bare them witness, "They have well said all that they have spoken." lie would not have so commended their drawing back, had it been in mere affright, as of children at a great fire. On the other hand, the same St. Paul bids us all take notice that neither is our earthly Sion by any means to claim exemption from the lower fear, more proper to sinners, but rather to think much of the sorer punishment, sure to be incurred in proportion to our greater privileges, if we be finally found unworthy. "For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven." On Sion also there was need to proclaim what had been so awfully shewn on Sinai, that "our God" as well as theirs "is a consuming fire." But the Apostle's conclusion is, not to be content with the lower motive, the dread of actual punishment, but to improve it by God's help into a loving and religious awe in His Presence. "Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
In fact, such dread is the natural correlative of the great Pentecostal doctrine. "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts;" so writes the Apostle who preached the first Whitsunday sermon, who presided, one may say, at the inauguration of the kingdom of heaven. As if he should say, 'The Lord God is in all your hearts, as in those on whom I myself with Christ's other chosen witnesses saw Him descend on the Day of Pentecost. He is in our hearts, let us own and adore Him accordingly.'
Even before Christ came, religious men, both within and without the old covenant, felt often and sometimes spoke of the overpowering consciousness of His Presence, forced upon them, as it were, by wonders of the visible world. There is much to this effect in the Book of Job; and what thoughtful reader of the Bible has ever stood by the sea at his leisure for half an hour, and has not been reminded of the Lord's challenge to Jeremiah", "Fear ye not Me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at My Presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail: though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?" [Jer. v. 22; cf. Job xxxviii. 4. Consider also the Psalmist contemplating his own body: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made.'' Ps. cxxxix. 13—16.]
Nay, even a heathen who knew not God, who tried to persuade himself that there is no God,—the great Epicurean poet,—was so carried away by the beauty and order of what we know to be God's works, that he cries out in a sort of transport, "I am smitten with I know not what divine rapture and horror, when I see nature by thine energy thus on all sides unveiled and made manifest." [Lucretius, iii. 28.] "By thine energy," so he adds, thinking all due to the wisdom of the philosopher whom he was glorifying." Most melancholy! when such earnest sayings and deep thoughts, which sound like part of a Christian hymn, are wasted in honouring a mere human inventor! But it may help us to understand how impossible it must be for believers not to experience a thrill of dread mingled with their solemn gladness, when the Almighty Teacher Himself descends from heaven, comes near to them, enters into them, begins to instruct them, not in His earthly but in His spiritual works, in His doings with their own souls and with the souls of their brethren. And ever as He goes on revealing to them more and more of the Creed—of the mystery hid from ages and from generations, but now made manifest to His saints—still the amazement, as in the old Prophets, deepens and becomes more overpowering. Thus at the Transfiguration, which, whatever deep import besides it might have, was an evident type and ensample of the kingdom of God coming with power, the first fear of the attendant disciples at the change in their Master's Person was enhanced when the Cloud came and overshadowed them: "They feared," says St. Luke, "as Moses and Elias entered into the cloud." That fear might be prophetic of what they were one day to feel, when it should be given them to contemplate with open face the Law and the Prophets passing into the glory of the Gospel.
Now that the kingdom of heaven is set up, such feelings, when He gives them, are doubtless the continuation of that Divine enrapturing awe which came upon every soul of that first Christian congregation, but most on the Apostles themselves, and on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Who can express the amazement of that hour, under the consciousness that God was now nearer to them and they to God, than any mere child of Adam could have been before, excepting Mary herself when God became man? Now it came upon them all, and you may be sure it never departed from them; on the contrary, it lived and grew in them daily, all the days of their life: and instead of being cast out when they died, as the fear of hell and of God's wrath will certainly be cast out from them that die in Christ, this sacred solemn awe will accompany them into that unseen world; it will never leave nor forsake them, not even in death or in the grave, for the Comforter who put it in their hearts will be still with them. And because He will yet be their Comforter in the last dreadful day, they will rise with this holy and humble reverence, His gift, in their souls; it will go up with them into heaven, and with its twin grace, the love of God now made perfect, will be part of their happiness for ever.
Such awe or fear (for so it is sometimes called), the fulness perhaps of what Jacob felt, when he cried out, "How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven;"—'such ecstatic, adoring wonder, enters we know into the solemn services which the saints and angels there offer to God. For the hymn of the saints is, 'Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy Name? for Thou only art holy." And the Seraphim, supposed to be the highest of all created spirits, cover their faces, as before a light not to be approached, even by them; as though they would confess with one of old, "The very stars are not pure in Thy sight."
And here we are led to momentous conclusions.
If religious fear in its various aspects and influences has been indeed a needful element in the very atmosphere which the whole Church has breathed from the beginning; if it is the gift of God's good Spirit, not only to awaken sinners, but to confirm penitents and to perfect saints, what are we to think of opinions and tendencies which, under show of intense love and more refined spirituality, encourage men to dispense with it?
That it is, so far, dispensed with, when persons take upon themselves to mitigate our Lord's threatenings beyond what is written, is very evident; and need not now be dwelt on.
But that I take to be but a single instance of the one great mischief which the Church has to deal with at this time, perhaps everywhere, certainly in our portion of Christendom.
Right Reverend and Reverend Fathers, and Brethren in Christ, is it not the profession of us all, that to be members of the Holy Catholic Church or kingdom of heaven, which was set up on Mount Sion, on the first Whitsunday, by the Holy Ghost Himself coming down upon the Apostles,—is to be, literally, in a supernatural state—to live among miracles not the less real, because they are invisibly wrought; to have everything so altered to us, that we may be truly, and not by a poetical figure only, said to live in " a new heaven and a new earth;" nothing the same to us as if we had not been Christians? Is not this what we all affirm, when we say before God, either in Church or in private devotion, "I believe in the Holy Ghost, and in the Holy Catholic Church?"
Of this condition, the Apostle tells us, that of the Israelites in the wilderness was just a type, and doubtless fell as far short of its antitype as Circumcision of Baptism, or the Paschal Feast of Holy Communion. Our privileges are in that proportion, and our responsibilities also. And we are not allowed to forget it. By special providence, as we may well believe, it has come to pass that among all the invitatory Psalms, the ninety-fifth has been selected for the opening of daily matins,—at least in all the Churches of the West,—as most appropriate for Christian thanksgiving and admonition: and this also with St. Paul's sanction, as we see in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Why is this, but because that Psalm adds so grave a warning to its acknowledgment of supernatural blessings, and enforces it by the very history, which we know from other Scriptures to be the ordained type of our own?
I cannot but observe here what a dark shade this circumstance throws upon any theory which would damage the reality and authority of the Pentateuch, as it is commonly received in the Churches. It is putting out a light which our Lord provided with special solicitude for the guidance of the whole Church, and for every soul among His people. And hear how earnestly He commanded all to take notice that He was doing so: "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?" In the face of that declaration, to be busy in proving that we need not believe Moses' writings, seems like maliciously quenching a beacon, and, one would think, could please no one but him whose trade is to make shipwreck of souls.
However, by that history and by the whole tenor of Holy Scripture, the Church is justified in teaching, as she has ever done, that all her members as such are in a supernatural state, mysteriously brought near to God, and parted off from the rest of Adam's seed, for final good or evil, as they improve their privileges or no. And this is the Dispensation of the Spirit, the work of God the Holy Ghost, to sanctify severally every one who is baptized, and collectively all the elect people of God. It is eminently the dispensation of love, for He is the Love of the Father and of the Son; and concerning it our Mediator said unto the Father, "I have declared unto Mine own Thy Name, and will declare it: that the Love wherewith Thou hast loved Me, may be in them, and I in them." But it is also, as we have seen, eminently a dispensation of fear: of fear, i.e. awe, for them that love God; of fear, i.e. horror, for such as will not love Him, and so throw away their last chance, "doing despite unto the Spirit of Grace."
To counteract and annul this work of the blessed Comforter the Evil One tries his worst on the right hand and on the left: endeavouring either to persuade men that it concerns only a select few, or to explain it away as simply a high kind of philosophy, the highest as far as we know;—very reasonable, very good, but with nothing at all in it properly to be called miraculous, or supernatural, in the strict sense of these words. In either case, if you listen to him, he has his own way with you: for he lessens your sense of responsibility, and encourages you to take immoral liberties.
This accounts for the way in which the Church is troubled, on the one hand, with exaggerations connected with predestination, effectual calling, and the like; on the other,—from which at this moment we seem to have more than usual to fear,—by men's lowering of Sacraments and Ordinances, by their levelling the Canonical Scriptures with the writings of men, by their making out Atonement for sin and Sacramental grace to be not really God's work, but man's; by this raising doubts on sin and its cure, its penalties and their duration, whether incurred by angels or by men; and in short, by their trying in all ways to get rid of the miraculous, heavenly, and properly Divine, out of our blessed Christian faith and its evidences.
My brethren, it is an awful suggestion, but does it not at once strike you, on such an enumeration as this, against Whom most especially we seem invited to sin and blaspheme,—against Him and against His work? And if we do, we know what we forfeit, both in this world and in the world to come.
The precipice is frightful; our heads are weak and giddy; there is no safety but in clinging to the Rock. But for such as do so with both hands, there is not only safety, but delight ever fresh, ever deepening, as they feel and contemplate the glorious things everywhere around them in the mountain of the Lord's house. The warm radiance of yonder heavenly Sun penetrates everywhere, takes up all into itself, destroys not the natural colouring or form of any, but lends to each its own glow of ethereal grace and beauty. Every day, and all the days of our life, it I will make, does make, all the difference to every one of us, whether we believe ourselves to be living in a supernatural state, full of Divine wonders, or no.
And if it made no difference to others, yet surely, my reverend brethren, it must to us who are entrusted with cure of souls. One man goes about his parish with the ever-present belief, that both he, and every one whom he meets, has the Holy Spirit within him—both he and they by Holy Baptism, he also, in a peculiar sense, by Holy Orders. Another, perhaps no less earnest in work, is mainly taken up with natural and social differences. One goes into a church, thinks of Isaiah's vision, says to himself, 'Here is the Lord sitting on His throne, high and lifted up, and His glory filling the place: here are the angels, hither Christ cometh in His Sacraments.' To another the place is nothing mysterious; he thinks only of edification and comfortable prayer. And God forbid we should disparage such thoughts: but can we say that they are adequate to what Holy Scripture would suggest, in such sayings (e.g.) as "He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus?" Must we not own that such an one, how good and sincere soever, is hardly great-hearted enough for his condition and privileges? or, as I have somewhere seen it expressed, that his watchword is Verbum Dei, when it ought to be, Verbum Deus?
Other instances each one may easily imagine for himself. And surely, my brethren, the experience of each of us will tell him that in such measure as he has tried and prayed, with fear and trembling, to keep up his high sense of the continued Pentecostal Gift, so far he has found his ministry blessed, with whatever disappointment in the visible results. That faith has been to him, as it will be to all who will prove it, worth all other motives and helps put together.
In that faith let us now commit ourselves, and the portions of the Church severally committed to our charge, to the Holy, Blessed, and Glorious Trinity; beseeching God the Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, to prepare us by His Holy Spirit for whatever His providence shall bring forth; and humbly thanking Him that we have been gathered beforehand under the shadow of His wings. And when any trial comes, what a special safety will they find who, having such opportunities as are granted here, shall have truly yielded themselves to the teaching and practice of the faith once delivered to the saints: neither developing new doctrines, nor explaining away the old; but winning their way to perfect and final safety, by constant development of new fruits of love, and constant victories over natural corruption and old wrong habits; and all in that reverence and godly fear which is itself the fruit of love, and will be perfected with it.