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2. As is the nation, such is the individual. The same type holds good, therefore, of the writer and the reader. Over our ordinary life there appears the meek and harmless sward; but how much provocation can we stand, without shewing that we hold in reserve, lying under all our gentleness and neighbourliness, very considerable powers of wrath. If a man be strong enough always to restrain the fiery forces of his nature, they are not therefore extinct. The lion may be muzzled, but he is a lion for all that.
3. The new convert is often deceived by his conversion. His old nature has suddenly fallen into such a lull, under his new life and joy, that he fancies his old nature is no more. He is mistaken. The elements of the tempest are still present in the fairest sky. He feels that he is a new creature, he is charmed with the change; he is become just and lovely in character, and sweet in his temper: there springs up within him a heavenly peace, which he never knew before. He thinks his evil nature and his hasty, ugly temper will never trouble him again. He is mistaken. Surely he will never fall from the heaven of his new nature, and become a prey again to the restless passions of the old man. Yes, he will. The change in his character is like the meek and beautiful
green-sward which covers very wild fires. His new spirit and character cover the common nature of men, in which the evil fires of fallen spirits conceal themselves, waiting and watching for their opportunity of outbreak.
4.-As for the earth, out of it cometh bread, but within it are labyrinths of restless fire. With striking emphasis, these words apply to the spiritual earth, the Church, which, from generation to generation is the depository of "the Bread of Life" for the world. Yes, it is undeniably true, that the Church of Jesus Christ carries in her bosom all the worst passions and sins of fallen nature. For bitterness, the dissensions of the world are not to be compared with the dissensions of the Church. The differences of barbarous tribes are far sooner healed than those of the Church. Under the arrogated authority of God and of Christ, little, stubborn, fiery souls have fought equally without scruple and without mercy, for their own conceptions. Contending pagans are able presently to resign their wrath, and to sit down and eat together in the spirit of mutual forgiveness. Not so the Church. Unto her has been committed the meekness and patience of Christ, the good-will and tenderness of Christ; but with these, for a cloke, oh what venom, what fierceness, what heart
less powers of persecution have lived, and from time to time asserted themselves with dreadful effect. No one who knows any thing of Churchhistory can wonder at the Master's words, that many of "the children of the kingdom" will be finally "cast out" into that wrathful, fiery element in which they indulged so eagerly.
"His servants ye are to whom ye obey." If you act under the love, mercy and gentleness of Christ, then you are His. If you act under the self-will, anger and hardness of the devil, then you are his. Every soul becomes joined to that source whence he derives his spirit.
IV. What are we to understand by the strange law, that the meek and beautiful should hide the terrible? Is it absolutely and necessarily an evil? By no means. In improper hands edgetools may do much harm; but their design and end are for good. The terrific element of fire is not in itself evil. Where there is fire there is danger; but without fire there is no possibility of good. Life is a fire, love is fire, joy is fire, all glory in heaven and all beauty on earth are from fire. Fire is universal, and of universal service. But whatever serves unto highest ends, if uncontrolled, or used amiss, becomes fearful for
mischief and destruction. If there were not heat in the earth, as well as in the sun, it would bring forth neither flowers, nor bread. If there were no passions in human nature, mankind would neither have graces nor virtues. There must be latent fire, to receive fire. There must be love, to receive love. The love of God becomes productive through the love of man. Growth is the result of a meeting between solar fire and the latent fire of the earth. Spiritual life is the quickening of a spiritual fire. Hell is a spiritual fire, under the devil: Heaven is a spiritual fire, under God. Let inclination and self-will use your passions, and they will work your confusion and ruin; give them to God, and they become your glory. Men with little fire in their nature, may be useful; glorious, or even charming, they can never be. Men with strong fiery forces in their nature, which, under meek control, serve to brighten their faces, to give largeness of heart to their measures, warmth to their words, and energy to their works, are much more than useful. There is a charm as well as a use, in sunshine. So these men are more than valued; they are admired. Men, women, and children acknowledge their attraction. They are God's glorious servants. When such men minister God's Truth, they turn many to.
righteousness. Not in this dull world only, but in Heaven itself, where all is glory, they shine as suns. Wherefore the Church is not to be reproved for her fiery ardor; too much of which she never had, she cannot have. Christ utters no complaint that His ministers are "a flaming fire." But He charges them to take heed as to the spirit which commands their zeal. For many exercise authority and power in the Name of Christ, and yet "know not what spirit they are of."
Many." In Thy Name we have done many wonderful works."
Christ. "I know you not, depart from Me." "His servants ye are to whom ye obey."
The devil has no greater delight than to make the Name of the Lord Jesus a cloke and an apology for his own hellish spirit.
The meekness, sweetness, and beauty of Christ, are the more admirable, because they cover awful energies. To suppose that in Hell, there are fiery forces exceeding those which Christ carries in His Bosom, is a great mistake. As there is more fire burning in the world, to good account, every day, than in all the destructive fires of the world in a whole year; so there is far more fire in the glory and joy of heaven, than in the torment and destruction of Hell, But, under the innocence of