« Prev Chapter I. Next »

Chapter I.

Of The Great Internal Treasure Of An Enlightened Believer.

Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God? 1 Cor. 6:19.

That the hearts of believers are the habitation of the Holy Trinity, is largely attested in Scripture, as Lev. 26:11; Isa. 44:3; 57:15; Joel 2:27; John 14:23; 17:23; Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 2:11, 12; 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Gal. 2:20; Ephes. 3:17; 4:24; Col. 3:10; 1 John 4:13. But who is there among Christians that understands, values, or inquires after this immense and hidden treasure? I thought it desirable, therefore, to explain at large the spiritual and heavenly dignity of the true Christian, and to show every one how to seek and find this sublime treasure in himself. The foundation of this doctrine has been already laid down in Book I, proving how the Word of God, through faith, exerts its power in the heart of man. And in Book II, it has been shown how God discovers himself to the devout soul, as the highest love, goodness, beauty, holiness, and wisdom.

2. But as this high treasure cannot be worthily perceived or understood, except in the still and quiet sabbath of the soul, in which the Holy Spirit teaches us inwardly by meditation on the Word, in which he enlightens us, and “searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10); upon this account, we must first of all learn, how to bring the soul to that quiet state of internal rest. Something has been said by way of foundation upon this head, in the chapters treating of Prayer, inserted in Book II; which comes now more fully and perfectly to be handled in this Third Book: namely, how this hidden treasure, this pearl in the field of our hearts (Matt. 13:44, 45), is to be sought for by entering into ourselves, or rather into God. And this is the inward sabbath of a heart cleansed and purified by faith (Acts 15:9), and enlightened by the Holy Ghost. From this treasure of the Spirit and kingdom of God, hidden in the believing soul, sprang the wisdom of all the enlightened, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and other men of God that have ever existed. This pearl, then, is worth looking after, this field is worth tilling, and this gift of the 379 Spirit and divine grace must be stirred up in us; even as a spark of fire, which by continual application of breath, is blown up into a bright flame. 2 Tim. 1:6.

3. But that thou mayest more fully and distinctly apprehend in the commencement of this Third Book, which relates entirely to the inward man, how the children of God are to be drawn from the exterior to the interior man, or the ground of the heart; that they may search, know, purify, and change it, and keep their spiritual eyes fixed upon God, and his kingdom in the inmost recesses of the soul; that the reader, I say, may more fully understand this, I shall first of all more generally in this chapter, and then more particularly, touch upon and explain the several heads of this doctrine, referring occasionally to the Theology of Dr. John Tauler, and quoting him as often as possible in his own words. And here I may remark, that as the Holy Scripture, great and sacred as it is, regards the heart of man; so likewise, the whole divinity of Tauler aims at the inward man, the ground of the heart, and deepest recesses of the soul. Hence it is, that he again and again inculcates, “that God and the kingdom of God, are purely to be enjoyed, sought for, and found in the ground of the heart:” that is, whatsoever the Holy Scripture and its true interpretation, discover outwardly, all that ought to be really, spiritually, and truly felt and experienced in the ground of the soul. This cannot be without a frequent entering into the centre of the heart; so that the more deeply a man retires from the world, so much the more closely he is united to God; and the oftener the devout Christian practises this exercise, the more clearly will the kingdom of God, and this hidden treasure, be manifested in his soul. He that does not perceive in himself these fruits of the Spirit, or the new man, will never be one jot more acceptable in the sight of God for all his great knowledge and science; but shall be reckoned among those of whom Christ says, that they shall say in the last day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?” Matt. 7:21. For it is not the external appearance, but the internal reality, that will avail in the sight of God; not that which consists in the letter, but that which flows from the Spirit, and consists in the Spirit. This is the true ground of the distinction mentioned in the Preface, betwixt one taught by the world, and him that is taught of God; that is, betwixt a learned man, and a holy man. The learned man is instructed outwardly by the letter; but the holy man by God, inwardly by the Holy Ghost, by the “anointing” which teacheth all things. 1 John 2:27. The wisdom of the learned consists in words; the wisdom of the holy man, in power. For “the kingdom of God is not in words, but in power.” 1 Cor. 4:20.

4. But as a general account of this will not be sufficient for the simple and unlearned, to bring them to this fundamental knowledge of themselves, I shall therefore descend to a more particular explication, asking them, at the same time, to attend to the “Five Parts” of their Catechism, and to understand how these are not to remain without them, but must be within them. First, therefore, thou believest that God delivered his law upon Mount Sinai, written upon two tables of stone; and that this law is the will of God, which thou art obliged to obey. You do well to believe this. But this faith profiteth not, unless 380 God himself write his law in your heart (Jer. 31:33), and accomplish his will in you. Now this can never be effected, unless, having now become a Christian, you dedicate your whole heart to God, and offer up your will to him, that His will may be fulfilled in you. The royal prophet David, who well knew the dignity and necessity of this divine operation, employs especially the whole 119th Psalm in earnest prayers to God, that he would vouchsafe to guide and govern him according to his law and testimonies, that so this heavenly work might not by any means be hindered in him. Further, you believe that Christ is your righteousness, your life and salvation. 1 Cor. 1:30. You do well to believe this, “for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11): “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. Yet, remember that you must have Christ within you; that is, you must lay hold on him inwardly by faith, and make him, both as to his Person and office, your own. For if Christ be thine, it follows that all things which are God's are also yours; and that if he had ten thousand worlds and kingdoms full of righteousness and blessedness, yet by faith all are thine. For the righteousness of Christ is greater than all these. So in like manner, though the guilt of ten thousand worlds lay upon thee, yet should it not be able to hurt thee. This then is the treasure which thou must have within thee, as our Lord tells us, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21): that is, “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Rom. 14:17.—Thou believest that Christ is the eternal Word of the Father; that he is the true life and light of man. John 1:4. Thou believest aright. But then, thou must take care, that this Word speak in thee, that this light shine in thee, that this life live in thee. For unless thou hast this inward treasure in thy soul, and art united to Christ by a living faith, everything else shall avail thee nothing. Again, thou thinkest thyself obliged by duty and interest, to pray to God, to give him thanks, and to praise his name (Psalm 92:1, 2), and in this thou judgest right. But take care that Christ himself pray within thee, and the Holy Spirit groan within thee (Rom. 8:26); for as he is “the Spirit of grace and of supplications” (Zech. 12:10), so, in order to make thy prayers effectual, it is necessary that he also pray in thy heart, the temple of spirit and truth. John 4:23. If this be not done, thy prayers are all of little avail.—Thou believest that in Baptism thou receivest remission of sins, the new birth, and adoption as a child of God. Thou believest aright. But unless thou find in thyself the fruit of baptism, the new birth, the unction of the Spirit, and divine illumination, thy baptism shall avail thee nothing.—Thou believest, according to the words of St. Matthew (Matt. 26:26), that in the external Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, thou receivest the true, essential body and the blood of Christ. Thou believest aright. But if thou dost not also eat it inwardly and spiritually, thou wilt not only lose all the benefits of that institution, but dost also eat and drink condemnation to thyself. 1 Cor. 11:29.—Thou believest that Christ was the true Lamb of God offered for us upon the cross. John 1:29. Yet consider: What good can this do thee, unless the same 381 Lamb of God become the daily food and nourishment of thy inward man? 1 Cor. 5:7. It appears, therefore, that thy treasure ought to be within thee, and that unless thou seek it there, thou shalt never find it.

« Prev Chapter I. Next »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |