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much less upon the clearness of what they contain ; so that our comprehension of what they mean must stop at very general notions; and our belief in them rest in the deference to which they are entitled, as Scripture declarations. Of this kind are many, if not all, of those expressions, which speak so strongly of the value, and benefit, and efficacy of the death of Christ; of its sacrificial, expiatory, and atoning nature.

We may be assured that these expressions mean something real; refer to something real ; though it be something which is to take place in that future dispensation of which we have been speaking. It is reasonable to expect, that, when we come to experience what that state is, the same experience will open to us the distinct propriety of these expressions, their truth, and the substantial truth which they contain ; and likewise show us, that, however strong and exalted the terms are which we see made use of, they are not stronger nor higher than the subject called for. But for the

present we must be, what I own it is difficult to be, content to take up with very general notions, humbly hoping that a disposition to receive and to acquiesce in what appears to us to be revealed, be it more or be it less, will be regarded as the duty which belongs to our subsisting condition, and the measure of information with which it is favoured ; and will stand in the place of

; hat, from our deep interest in the matter, we are sometimes tempted to desire, but which, nevertheless, might be unfit for us-a knowledge, which not only was, but which we perceived to be, fully adequate to the subject.

There is another class of expressions, which, since they professedly refer to circumstances that are to take place in this new state, and not before, will, it is likely,

be rendered quite intelligible by our experience in that state; but must necessarily convey very imperfect information until they be so explained. Of this kind are many of the passages of Scripture, which we have

, already noticed, as referring to the changes which will be wrought in our mortal nature; and the agency of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the intervention of his power, in producing those changes; and the nearer similitude which our changed natures, and the bodies with which we shall then be clothed, will bear to his. We read “that he shall change our vile body, that it may be like his glorious body.” A momentous assurance, no doubt : yet, in its particular signification, waiting to be cleared up by our experience of the event. So likewise are some other particular expressions relating to the same event, such as being “ unclothed,” “ clothed upon,” “ the dead in Christ rising first ;" * meeting the Lord in the air;" “ they that are alive

; not preventing those that are asleep,” and the like. These are all most interesting intimations; yet to a certain degree obscure. They answer the purpose

of ministering to our hopes, and comfort, and admonition, which they do without conveying any clear ideas : and this, and not the satisfaction of our curiosity, may be the grand purpose, for the sake of which intimations of these things were given at all. But then, in so far as they describe a change in the order of nature, of which change we are to be the objects, it seems to follow, that we shall be furnished with experience, which will discover to us the full sense of this language. The same remark

may be repeated concerning the first and second death, which are expressly spoken of in the Revelations, and, as I think, alluded to and supposed in other passages of Scripture, in which they are not named.

error.

The lesson, inculcated by the observation here pointed out, is this, that, in the difficulties which we meet with in interpreting Scripture, instead of being too uneasy under them, by reason of the obscurity of certain passages, or the degree of darkness which hangs over certain subjects, we ought first to take to ourselves this safe and consoling rule, namely, to make up for the deficiency of our knowledge by the sincerity of our practice; in other words, to act up to what we do know, or, at least, earnestly strive so to do. So far as a man holds fast to this rule, he has a strong ground of comfort under every degree of ignorance, or even of

And it is a rule applicable to the rich and to the poor, to the educated and the uneducated, to every state and station of life; and to all the differences, which arise from different opportunities of acquiring · knowledge. Different obligations may result from different means of obtaining information ; but this rule comprises all differences.

The next reflection is, that in meeting with difficulties, nay, very great difficulties, we meet with nothing strange, nothing but what in truth might reasonably have been expected beforehand. It was to be expected, that a revelation, which was to have its completion in another state of existence, would contain many expressions which referred to that state; and which, on account of such reference, would be made clear and perfectly intelligible only to those who had experience of that state, and to us after we had attained to that experience ; whilst, however, in the mean time, they may convey to us enough of information, to admonish us in our conduct, to support our hopes, and to incite our endeavours. Therefore the meeting with difficulties, owing to this cause, ought not

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to surprise us, nor to trouble us overmuch. Seriousness, nay, even anxiety, touching every thing which concerns our salvation, no thoughtful man can help; but it is possible we may be distressed by doubts and difficulties more than there is any occasion to be distressed.

Lastly, under all our perplexities, under all the misgivings of mind, to which even good men (such is the infirmity of human nature) are subject, there is this important assurance to resort to, that we have a protection over our heads, which is constant and abiding : that God, blessed be his name, is for evermore: that Jesus Christ our Lord is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever: that, like as a traveller by land or sea, go where he will, always sees, when he looks

up,

the same sun; so in our journey through a varied existence, whether it be in our present state, or in our next state, or in the awful passage from one to the other; in the world in which we live, or in the country which we seek; in the hour of death, no less than in the midst of health, we are in the same upholding hands, under the same sufficient and unfailing support.

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IX.

ON CONFIRMATION.

MARK X. 17.

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came

one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit

I eternal life?

The question which was here asked our Saviour, “ What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” comprehends the whole of religion. He that can tell me this, tells me every thing. All knowledge and all faith is but to ascertain this one great point.

“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" is a question which there is no man or woman living, one would suppose, but must have thought upon. In the height and

, vigour of health and spirits ; when every night brings rest, and every morning joy; when pleasures, new and fresh, are continually presenting themselves to the imagination; it is possible to be so in love with this world, as to forget, or rather wilfully to shut our eyes against the thoughts that it is ever to have an end. But this round of festivity and delight is not every man's portion, nor any man's portion long. The amusements of life flag and slacken. Vexations and disappointments teach us that they are not to be relied upon.

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