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from the incarnation of the Divine Redeemer can these vital lessons be learned.
Therefore, in every believer we have a proof of the reality of the Incarnation; and in all the godliness, sobriety, purity, truth, equity, and benevolence of their lives we have an example of its power in man. We are not willing, therefore, to accept as a generous grant the fact of the Incarnation; we demand it as the best established fact in human history, and as the only solvent of the difficult problems of human life. And that we are not out of the range of pure humanity in the description above given, “The Confession of a Beautiful Soul,' as recorded by Goethe, will show. It may be the creation of his own mind, but that does not affect its value in the present case, as it would still be the judgment of this profound student of humanity, that only in the manner stated could this excellence be produced.
After describing the integrity, purity, and amiability of the previous life, and the long struggles after a higher ideal, the narrative proceeds :- When, upon one occasion, I was engaged in studying the Psalms which David composed after his dreadful fall, it seemed to me that he had perceived the evil which dwelt within him to exist in the very substance out of which his nature was formed, and yet he wished to be freed from this slavery of sin, and earnestly prayed for purity of heart.
But how was this to be obtained ? I was well aware of the answers which the Scriptures afford, and it was for me a Bible truth that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." But I soon perceived that I had never understood this oft-repeated saying. The question, What does that mean? how is it to happen ? agitated me day and night. At length I thought I perceived as by a glimmering light, that the object of my search was to be discovered in the incarnation of the Eternal Word, by whom we and everything had been created. That the everlasting God descended into the depths which we inhabit, and dwelt among us, that He sees and understands all things, that He passed through every alternation of our condition from His conception and birth to the grave, and that by this wonderful course He ascended once more to those blessed heights which we also must attain in order to be happy,—all this was revealed to me, though in a dim and indistinct manner.
But why, in order to understand such things,
must we employ figures which can only express exterior situations ? What object can be either high or deep, dark or bright in His eyes ? ? We alone possess an under and an above, a day and a night; and therefore was it that He became like unto us, because otherwise we could have no part in Him. But how are we to participate in this invaluable benefit? “By faith,” the Holy Scripture replies. And what is faith? To believe the relation of an event as true. How can that avail me ? I must become imbued with its effects, its consequences, and this appropriating faith must be a peculiar condition of mind to which the natural man is unaccustomed.
* And now, Almighty, grant me faith! I prayed in the deepest anguish of heart. I bent my head down upon a small table before which I sat, and I buried my tear-stained face within
hands. I was now in that condition in which every man must be if he expects that God will listen to his prayers—a condition in which, alas! we seldom find ourselves. Oh that I could but describe my feelings at that moment! A sudden attraction brought my soul to the foot of the cross upon which Jesus died. It was an inward constraint, -I cannot
describe it by any other expression; it resembled that impulse which attracts our soul to an absent lover, by an invisible contact which is perhaps more true and real than we suppose. Thus was my soul brought near to the Son of man, who died upon the cross, and in the same moment I recognised what faith really was. • This is faith, I exclaimed, and I sprang
half terrified to my feet. I sought to assure myself of my feelings, of my senses, and I now became convinced that my spirit had acquired a capability of soaring to heaven which it had never possessed before.
Words cannot describe my sensations. I could distinguish them wholly from every semblance of imagination. They had no connection with fancy or with figure. They brought before me the actuality of some object which the mind sees when it paints the features of an absent lover.
When the first feeling of delight had subsided, I saw that at other times I had experienced this condition of the soul, but I had never felt it as forcibly as at present. I had never retained it, nor made it my own. I had previously been satisfied with
my occasional experiences of this influence. But now, since
that exalted moment, I had, as it were, acquired wings. I could soar aloft, above all obstacles, as a bird can fly singing, and with ease, across the swiftest streams, which a dog, with all his barking, is unable to pass. My joy was unspeakable, and though I explained the circumstances to no one, my friends observed an unwonted cheerfulness in my demeanour, for which they could not account.'
A variety of personal and domestic changes is next recorded, in which the new impulse and the new joy are shown to be adequate to all the exigencies of life, and the final judgment is thus expressed - That my progress is ever in advance, that I never retrograde, that my conduct becomes daily more conformable to the ideas which I have formed of perfection, that in spite of my bodily infirmities, which exclude me from so many opportunities of doing good, I feel a growing inclination to discharge my duty,—can all this be explained by the principles of mere human nature, whose corruption I have so clearly seen? In my opinion, decidedly not. I can scarcely remember a command, I have never known a law; an impulse leads me, and always conducts me right; I freely pursue my own disposition, and I am a stranger alike to