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work will keep us healthy if nothing else does ; but even in this practical, hard-working, common-sense England, the philosophic spirit has spoiled many a Christian, and may spoil many more, unless we are mindful of the advice to beware of it lest any man spoil us.
What are all these wailings which we hear from conferences, synods, congregational unions, and the like, respecting the want of power and success in the churches ? Why are they necessary, and why are they so general ? Has the idea ever dawned upon us that we may be spoiled by philosophy ? that we may have put ourselves, to a great extent, out of sympathy with the common mind and with the masses of the people? No doubt we love them as ardently as ever. No doubt we are labouring, in our way, with commendable industry to promote their spiritual welfare. But does the way suit them ? There may be too much philosophy in it to reach them. We may be too stiff and cold to make them feel. Certainly they do not feel as it is desirable they should, that we are the ministries and agencies sent to them. We are, in their estimation, the ministries and agencies sent to their employers of the middle class. Why not turn out into the streets and speak to them there? Why not invest a few shillings in a chair, if we cannot borrow one, and take our stand at some corner at early morning as they go to work, or on the Sabbath afternoons as they throng the thoroughfares, and sound the Gospel trumpet in their hearing? Can we not pay them more frequent domiciliary visits with our tracts in hand, with our words of sympathy for the poor, and perhaps a little help for their temporal need, as we may be helped to do so by those whom God has blessed with means ? Can we not preach more poor men's sermons ?—sermons easy in style, full of illustrations, rich in sympathy, bathed in tears, utterances of the heart, expressions of that deep yearning of the soul that will not be satisfied unless, there and then, souls are brought to Christ, and the congregation saved ? Pardon us for saying these things. No unkind reflection is intended in any case. He who writes these words is as sensible of shortcoming as others can be, and if he had life to begin again he would certainly, in his own case, attend to these things more than he did when he was younger. He would cultivate street-preaching, as he did to some extent, and ought to have done more, as the best educator of the voice, the style of thought, and the pulsations of the heart, in the endeavour to act on the mind and affections of the masses of the population. He is sensible that he might better have improved opportunities for getting at the great heart of the people; and while he makes no pretensions to philosophy, he regretfully confesses that regard for what is deemed proper, dignified, and usual, restrained attempts in this direction, which could have done no harm, and might have resulted in much good. Oh, how needful it is for us all to listen to the command, *Quench not the spirit,” whatever philosophy may say to the contrary!
There is one further view to be taken of the subject, and that is how the processes of philosophic thought may “spoil” us. These processes require abstraction, severe thought, and searching analysis. We hear much of the speculative philosophy, and the destructive philosophy. As to natural philosophy, moral philosophy, the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of history, and the like, there is no such thing in fact, and the terms pass current only by way of accommodation. We might apply the term with as much propriety to farming, to making boots and shoes, to forging cutlery, or to spinning cotton. The knowledge of Nature is science; the essence of morals is duty. Religion is reverential feeling, and the acts by which this feeling is expressed. We speak of a philosophy of these things only because we are fond of fine terms. Be that, however, as it may ; where shall we find the constructive philosophy? where is the philosophy that builds up ? The philosophic process of thought analyses,
pulls to pieces, investigates qualities, recognizes distinctions and forms, : and is useful so far as it helps to an understanding of these things.
But see how a habit of analyzing and distinguishing may, unless we -beware," dissipate force, because the concrete is lost in the abstract. We can well understand how a thorough philosopher might be afraid to affirm anything. He has studied the "conditioned" so much, and there are so many conditions all through this universe, that if he were puzzled to say whether black was white, or the reverse, who could be surprised ? Listen to his speeches, and how strikingly do they exemplify the cast of his mind! What an enormous distance there generally is in any set address between the nominative and the verb, the subject and the predicate! the interval being filled up by expletives, collateral thoughts, contingent ideas, and partial reserva
tions. There are times when a man has to say a spade is a spade, : and be done with it; but the person long accustomed to deep
philosophic thoughts would not like to say anything in that direct way; he would go round about it, because he has gone round about the deep subjects of his meditations for years, and he sees differences where other minds only see analogies. Now, when this happens, we fear philosophy has spoiled him. It has refined his mind, we grant; it bas given him a power of penetration which other and plainer men do not possess ; all hair-splitting has this tendency ; but that refinement and philosophic insight have been purchased by the loss of . directness and power in dealing with the common understanding of mankind. From the nature of the case there must be some ready way of getting at essential religious truth ; a way on which all can travel to its shrine ; a way which the fishermen of Galilee could use, : and which the labouring millions of our own day can use to help
them to “come to Jesus ;” otherwise salvation were impossible, and the knowledge of God beyond our reach. The processes of philosophical investigation are, at all times, impossible to all but a small number of men, who from the constitution of their minds, their ample leisure, their means to purchase books, and other facilities, are fitted for the pursuit. The results, even in their case, may be, as they have been, lamentably small in comparison with the expenditure of time and effort employed upon them; but, be they small or large, the majority of us cannot touch them, and if our salvation depended upon them, the question is at once closed. Salvation is nothing to us on these conditions. God cannot be known, or loved, or served by the masses on any such terms. The function of philosophy lies outside of the function of Christianity. The former can be used as an intellectual toy or tonic; the latter is a consciousness, supported, or rather certified, by a Divine revelation, and thus supported and certified it becomes a life—not a thought, but a life. The essence of its faith is not in a thought, not in an idea, but in a living personality, present, controlling, sanctifying, elevating, even Christ in us the hope of glory. We trust we yield to none in our respect for the written Word; but there was a faith before there was a Bible. There was a faith before there was a line of the New Testament written. There is a faith, halting and imperfect though it be, even now, in many men where the Bible has not yet been known; else, how could they come from the east and the west, out of every kindred, and nation, and people, and tongue, and stand before the Lamb ? how did Enoch, the seventh from Adam, walk with God, without even the Pentateuch to guide him? or, how was Noah warned of God to prepare an ark for the saving of himself and his house? or, how did Jacob, when “he was a dying," by faith bless the sons of Joseph, leaning on his staff? or, earlier still than Jacob, how did Abraham, when he was tried, offer up Isaac ?-if it were not from direct personal communion with God, and a revelation to their own personal consciousness of the Divine will and the faithfulness of the Divine covenant. Or, how is it with the Gentiles, as Paul says, which have no law, and yet which show the work of the law written in their hearts, doing by nature the things contained in the law, and so are a law unto themselves? Did these men arrive at their convictions of duty or their sublime hopes by a philosophical process of reasoning? Or, do we, in our special circumstances, arrive at the same conclusions and at the same hopes by our philosophy? Nay, it is the boast of modern philosophy that when these and similar convictions and hopes are submitted to a philosophical scrutiny they crumble into dust, and that pure reason dissipates the whole fabric. As it happens mentally that minute and abstract studies, long continued, belittle the mind, so is it spiritually. One direct flash of ethereal fire on
the soul, from the altar of God, will do more than years of philosophic groping in the dark to confirm our convictions and brighten our hopes ; and if it should be said that such flashes from the altar of God hare ceased, and are no longer to be expected, with the experience of God's people before us, and with the special doctrines of Methodism in our creeds and hymns to sustain us, we utterly deny the assertion. What is the inward witness to our adoption? What are conscious pardon and acceptance with God? What is the spirit of holiness in our hearts? What do we mean when we sing
“Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire,
Let us thy influence prove;
Fountain of life and love,”
and the rest of the hymn ? Do we mean that direct communications of light, life, and power to the human soul, not as mere matters of inference, but as matters of personal consciousness, are no longer to be expected ? If we do, we ought all to go to school again and learn the meaning of words. We all believe in temptation—something that Satan can suggest and make us feel in the direction of evil; but when we speak of inspiration—something which God can make us think and feel in the direction of the true and good—we are supposed to trench on what is presumptuous, if not profane. The creature can act upon us, but not the Creator. Satan can be our constant companion, whispering in our ear, stimulating our imagination, and arranging opportunities for evil ; but not our omniscient and omnipotent God, helping, guiding, elevating, and controlling for the holy and the good. Can absurdity-we had almost said blasphemy-go further than this ? God is with his people always, leading, helping, protecting, and, if you will, inspiring; and so, in one sense, they have no need that any man teach them. The “anointing” which they have received abideth on them ; they know that they are of God, and have overcome the world. Their very bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. By faith they stand, and not by reason only—often not by reason at all—and philosophic processes of investigation, induction, and inference are unnecessary, either for conviction or satisfied feeling. Philosophy may “spoil” the Christian; but it neither makes a Christian, nor certifies that he is one, nor keeps him a Christian. “Beware lest any man spoil you by philosophy."
We may remark, in conclusion, that there is no quarrel with reason in this case ; none, indeed, with a reasonable philosophy. Reason is right when rightly guided—when it is guided by faith ; but both reason and philosophy are arrogant when they claim the sovereignty in their own right; for, if that is conceded, our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sins. We only ask of reason and philo: sophy to keep their own side of the road and clear the track, for the King's royal mail with the passengers on board—each with the Bible in his hand. -is coming along, and is “bound for the kingdom !".
THE CHERUBIM OF GLORY. . “And over it (the ark) the cherubims of glory shadowing the Mercy Seat.”
WHEN Adam and Eve were driven furth from Paradise, God placed . cherubim and a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of life.
When the ark of the covenant was constructed, two cherubim of gold were placed, one at each end, with wings outstretched and faces bowed towards the mercy seat.
When the veil of fine-twined linen, of blue and purple and scarlet .uyes, was hung before the holiest of all, there were commanded to be einbroidered thereon figures of the cherubim which were upon the Ark.
When the temple of Solomon was built, in the holiest place, again were images of the cherubim placed, of great size and beauty, . their wings extended ; and again were figures of them embroidered on the beautiful veil.
When Isaiah had a wondrous vision of the Lord sitting on His throne in the Temple, above it were six seraphim or cherubim, who .cried one to another, “ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts ! the whole earth is full of His glory!”
When Ezekiel was a captive in the land of Chaldea, by the river Chebar, he beheld the glory of the Lord and four cherubim attending, of marvellous appearance and attributes. And again, when Ezekiel beheld the glory of the Lord departing from the Temple, the cherubim spread their wings, mounted up from the earth, and witnessed the departing brightness.
When John in his exile beheld the glorious visions of the Apocalypse, he saw before the throne of God four “living ones” or cherubim, miscalled in our translation “ beasts." These offered unresting praise to Jehovah, and cried “Holy, holy, holy Lord God „Almighty, which was and is, and is to come !"
There are other references to these wondrous beings, but these are the principal, and various questions arise in relation to them. Two of these must content us just now, and we shall simply ask, What they were ? and What they signified ?
1st. What were they?—Very little help is to be gained by a consideration of the name itself, for various meanings, and very contrary pnes, have been supplied by the critics. It will aid us more to consider the descriptions given by the Scriptures concerning them ;