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apostle's declaration, (1 John.v: 10,) that “every one that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."
The question before us is not what would constitute evidence of our faith to others?”—but, what is evidence to one's self?"
Of course therefore it does not consist in any outward exhibitions, or appearances. These may constitute presumptive evidence of our faith, to others, but, however unimpeachable or saintly, are, per se, no evidence to ourselves. Nor does it consist in any kind of experience, antecedent to, or independent of actual confidence. Nor is it any remembered experi
It is a current onehe that believeth hath it. The witness, or evidence, referred to, seems to be two-fold -the witness of the Spirit of God, and the witness of our wn 'spirit, that is, of our own consciousness. [See context, vs. 6––14.] Accordingly, we are taught by the Apostle Paul, (Rom. viii: 16,) that the Spirit itself beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the children of God.” By this, however, we do not understand that the Spirit is distinguishable in consciousness from our own. They are certainly inseparable. His witnessing with our spirit, or the agency He cxerts in producing the witness in ourselves, seems to us to consist in manifesting or unfolding to our inner eye, "the things of Christ" the source and import of the divine promises and provisions in relation to human salvation—so vividly that they appear to us as the most absolute realities, and thus correspondingly raising and strengthening our confidence, and of course the rividness of our consciousness of it:--so that, in the last analysis, the witwhich every one that believes has IN HIMSELF,
is his CONSCIOUSNESS that he does believe. The evidence of believing is therefore psychologically involved in the act of believing. Believing implies knowing that we believe; and this knowlege, or consciousness, is the witness in ourselves.
To illustrate this, suppose one, whom you regard as every way trust-worthy, promises you his favor and aid, and you confide in his promises. If asked for the reasons, or grounds, of your confidence in him, you would refer at once to his manifested character; but, if asked how you know, or what evidence you have, that you do actually confide in him, you could make no other answer than this I know that I do," Grecian history relates that when Alexander the Great (world-ravager) was on his way through Asia Minor for the conquest of Persia, he was siezed with a violent fever, at Tarsus, in consequence of plunging, while highly overheated, into the cold
waters of the Cydnus, a river which flowed through the city. The symptoms soon became so threatening that most of his physicians despaired of his life. One, however, who stood high in his confidence, undertook to prepare a medicine which would restore him. While he was absent preparing it, a letter was brought to Alexander from one of his most valued officers, informing him of a report that this very physician had been bribed by Darius to poison him. Alexander had the letter in his hand when he came in with the draught, and, giving it to him, took the cup, and drank its contents, while he was reading it! That was an instance of remarkable confidence. Now suppose some one had asked Alexander what evidence he had that he confided in his physician. What else could he have answered than this—"I am conscious that I do?"
Let us now consider several important deductions from the priuciple illustrated:
1. It is absurd to seek for a witness, or evidence, of faith, previously to actually exercising it. It is to seek for a psychological consequence, before the existence of its antecedent. It is not only an absurd, but a distressing pursuit. How few of those who have ever believed, have failed to prove this by experience. When a witness is thus sought, it is always conceived of as some peculiar view, shock, or sensible impression. The mind introverts its attention upon itself, and, keeping it there, prays, struggles, and sometimes agonizes well nigh in total despair, to realize it; but all in vain. The idle, but strenuous endeavor may be fitly compared to that of the fabled Tantalus, madly striving to quaff the cold and crystal waters which danced around his very mouth, but ever failing to seize even a single drop to allay his burning thirst; or to that of one whose life depended on his climbing a tread-wheel to its upper edge, who finds that the more he multiplies his steps, the more rapidly the wheel revolves; and the more rapidly it revolves, the more he is compelled to struggle, even to retain his starting point—until, in utter weariness and despair, he sinks, and gives up the fruitless toil. Having reached this miserable end of the preposterous effort--then, and usually not till then, does the eye turn to God, and the soul embrace and rest in his mercy. This terrible process, has been marked by holy genius, as the “Slough of Despond."
2. Another remark: When we really confide in God, it is unnatural to seek for an evidence that we do. Believing, as we have already said, implies the consciousness of so doing. We believe the truth of this remark is no less sustained, by all well interpreted experience, than that of the previous one. How unnatural it would be, for example, for one who placed confidence in the character and promises of a fellow man, to turn upon himself in search of evidence that he did confide! No such case ever occurred. The truth is, searching for evidence at any time is proof of unbelief. The declaration of John is universally true--that “every one that believeth, hath the witness in himself.” What one has, he never seeks.
3. Another remark of great importance, in our estimation, is, that if those who are seeking for evidences of acceptance with God, previous to believing, could succeed in finding them, and then seem to themselves to believe, they would in all probability be mistaken. Their faith would be in their evidences; and the instant any cause might dissipate them, their faith would cease. The very fact that they make the possession of evidences the condition of their believing shows that they do not regard the character and promises of God as worthy of confidence, and that their faith would rest on their own inward feelings, or views. It is probable that multitudes have been fatally deceived in this very way--having experienced certain feelings or views which they took for evidences, and trusted in them, and never having in fact confided in God.
4. The grand reason why any one makes the attainment of evidences, the condition of trusting God is his selfishness. He is so intent on his own salvation, because it is his own, that he will not consent to accept and rely simply on the security which the veracity of God affords-he must have something additional and more reliable—he cannot risk his eternal all on such a basis! Hence, he struggles for that additional and more reliable basis, despite all testimony and teaching to the contrary, as a shipwrecked man holds on to his bag of gold even while it drags him to the bottom, fathoms down! The instant he consents to relinquish his selfish hold upon himself, saying-Live or die, I will trust the word of God, and acquiesce in his disposal of my destiny”—he passes from death to life. “Oh” said a lady, whom we were urging to commit herself to the promises of God, " but what if, after all, his promises should fail
, and I should lose my soul! Would not that be dreadful?” Here was revealed the concentrated selfishness of her heart, and of the heart of every one in a similar case.
5. One final caution. Reader, if you wish to believe God, in the true sense of the word, make no delay in attempts at self-renovation; say not to yourself—“ I must repent first” _“I must feel more"_" It would be presumptuous for me to trust God as I am”—“He will not accept me;" avoid the mistake of having faith in faith, instead of in God; look not within, but away to the cross in which all the mercies of God are combined and radiant; mark the promises which He has thrown like bridges across every intervening threatening gulf; appropriate at once all the proffered grace of God. in Christ-and you shall be saved!
ci Faith is not reason's labor, but repose.”
Authority a Prerogative of the Ministerial Office.
By Rev. HENRY E. Peck, of Rochester, N. Y.
The seeds of social and political latitudinarianism, sown late in the last century, upon the crumbled ruins of the Bourbon throne, have already brought into being, and most active fruitfulness, a tree laden with most mischievous fruits. The cry—"down with the throne !" raised in the Champ-de-Mars, in January of 1793, has, for almost fifty-four years, been, except where despotism has hushed it, echoing through the Old World, and the New. The Upas of which we speak, is often (that its deadly nature may be concealed,) called “The Tree of Liberty.” The rallying cry to which we allude as having been the watch-word of the enfuriated king-slayers of Paris, wherever now repeated, whether its note be “down with the king," or "down with the state," "death to tyranny," or "death to all distinctions in society," is hailed by many who will not or cannot discriminate, as the true voice of freedom.
Now we love liberty, and we rejoice in our title to freedom --but political fanaticism, that spirit which would fain level thrones, cabinets, and all other exponents of authority, we regard as a monster as terrible in aspect and execution as unchecked despotism itself.
That “the state," applying the term to the aggregate of political institutions, is cursed with that destroying influence which we here condemn, no one may doubt. The story of the French Revolution, written in blood, and garnished with terror, is too fresh in the memories of thinking men, to permit them to question the existence and fearful tendency of that evil which is technically called “agrarianism." Éven the patent socialisms and wildfire democracy of our own country, indicate too plainly that even here disguised anarchy is abroad.
But in our times the arm of established law in most of the civilized countries of earth, is too heavy to permit the grosser forms of the leveling spirit to prevail. Demagogues and agrarians must be content with preaching the more specious but still dangerous doctrines of their creed. Instead of laying the