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hold of impossibility, and cease from his endeavour.
I answer, no : the very reverse of this appears the true case. It is the believer who is most likely to persevere; and the philosopher that will most commonly falter.
For to the eye of faith it is clear as demonstration, that the theorist, starting in the outset on deficient principles, pursues an end which actually is unattainable, whether he think it so or not. As it has been said, however, he himself thinks otherwise of it. The sun shines upon the morning of his journey, and he sets to work in cheerfulness. I will not say, that he may not work until his life's evening. There is a cold and watery sun, that shines through many a day with the appearance of splendour, when the earth is little heated with its beams, and nature little invigorated. When we look for the real growth it has produced, there is none; for its heat was not a vital one. So may it fare with the philosopher, in plans of human perfectibility without religion. The splendour of “ talent” may cheer him on his way ; partial success in private instances, or even general (apparent) success, under the first impulses of novelty, may encourage and assure him; and the deceptious glare of a posthumous celebrity may shed a lustre on his dying hour. I do not say, but that all this is possible: though even this is only
possible in the rarer instances of really powerful native minds amongst unbelievers. But disappointed vanity would benumb the efforts of a far greater proportion : for supposing their perseverance to relax upon discouragement, and they incline to leave the world after all such as they found it, what shall hinder them? They are answerable at no tribunal; they have no account to give. Is not this likely to be the end of the matter; to conclude, that “ they offered 66 the world a boon, and the world would not " accept it; they would have rejoiced to labour “ more, but the world was not worthy ?” · The believer enters on his task under very different auspices. He does not look, positively, for any visible issue to his labours here; it is not that, to which it is his duty to look. He casts Eccles. xi. his bread upon the waters only in the sure hope of seeing it again after many days. It may be in the mercy of God, that he shall find it in this life as well; but he reckons upon it only in another. He does not look towards the visible sum of other people's account.; but to that which serves towards the positive increase, the required amount of his own. His appointed work is to work out his own salvation ; and he Philip. ii. may attain this object in full.
But the way of this lies in its practical part) through the very employment of advancing the happiness of his fellow-creatures. On this, there- Cf. Lect.
fore, his attention will always be set; to this object he will be pressing forward. Not by looking to any extravagant picture he may have fancied to himself of an universal reformation ; but by making sure of contributing his own share towards an event, which he is satisfied to
leave in the hands of Omniscience. He will be 1 Cor. xv. always abounding in the work of the Lord, for
asmuch as he knows that his labour will not be in vain in the Lord.
This is the believer's prospect. I do not say he is not subject to weariness, to vacillations of the spirit, to disappointments, to wretchedness, like other men. But he knows that he is destined to be tried every way; and therefore, perhaps, more keenly in this way than in any other. What, however, is it really to him, when all comes to all, though his labours should not exhibit on the surface any present fruit? Has he therefore in himself no hope? Rather is the
Prophet's confidence then his, in unexhausted Habak. iii. consolation ; Although the fig tree shall not
blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines ; - yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Such are some important deductions resulting from the previous view here taken of God's two great dispensations, which appear worthy of grave attention ; the connection of which with the main purpose of the subsequent inquiry
will appear, incidentally, throughout. A disposition being thus prepared for receiving it with thoughtfulness, the next Lecture will proceed to assert “ the general correspondence of the Bible 66 with the aspects of human nature.”