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to the occasions which call them forth and the characters of the persons harbouring them, which spring up continually in the heart of the baptized, and which represent the action of the Holy Spirit upon the soul, in virtue of Baptism'. They are not the fruit, which God will require in its season from those who have been planted in His vineyard; but they are the blossom on the fruit-tree, an efflorescence, which shows the tree's vitality, and gives hope that, with proper culture, it will bear fruit hereafter.
But in those who have fallen into wilful and deliberate sin, and, it may be, have long persisted in that evil course, the grace of Baptism, unless, indeed, it has become altogether extinct, operates in another manner.
1 It will no doubt be said that persons merely educated in Christian Truth, and submitted freely to the influences of Christian civilization-children, for instance, of a Baptist or a Quakerwould probably have all the sentiments here described, even without the administration of the Sacrament of Baptism. No doubt Christian education, which Our Lord ordained in close and vital connexion with the Sacrament of Baptism (" baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," Matt. xxviii. 19, 20), has of itself a great effect in instilling these "good desires." But the fact that God is good and gracious, even to those who have never formally been brought into the bond of His Covenant, and is pleased sometimes to attach grace to that which is only half a Sacrament, cannot disprove the normal connexion between Baptism and those drawings of the heart which are here said to be its effects. The warmth of incubation is the usual and regular means of quickening the germ of life in an egg: that chickens may be hatched by artificial warmth does not really make against this truth.
The parable of the Prodigal Son beautifully illustrates this working of the grace in question. The son had tried to live on unsatisfying food, and had found by experience that it could not fill or nourish him. The craving of natural appetite brought him to himself, and it was then that he began to bethink him of the abundant diet provided even for menials in his father's house; 66 How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!" It is very observable that his earliest instigation to return arises from nothing nobler than a sense that he was famishing. It is not, in the first instance, love for his father, it is not a touching memory of earlier and purer days sweeping across his heart, which moves him to retrace his steps; but merely the gnawing of hunger. Oh, great and gracious encouragement to a sinner who has wandered far from God, and seems quite to have estranged himself from his heavenly home! The mere dissatisfaction with the creature, arising from making trial of it and finding it to fail, the mere void which is created in the heart by constant disappointment, when all worldly sources of happiness have been proved one after another, and turned out broken cisterns which can hold no water,—even this motive, interested and selfish as it is, is accepted, if it lead to an effective penitence, or rather to a hearty effort in that direction. And why? Because this intense dissatisfaction of the soul with the creature, this refusal to acquiesce in any thing which does not fully content the heart, is instigated by
the Holy Spirit, is an impulse of baptismal grace, still struggling with the reluctant will. It may be grace in its earliest stage, but grace it is, inasmuch as it leads the heart of man to realize a great truth which it is naturally averse to accept,-the truth of the creature's emptiness. And God cannot turn His back on His own grace, when He sees one of His children led by it, and yielding to its impulse.
I said it was not primarily love for his father, nor memory of his home, which instigated the prodigal's return. But we cannot exclude these feelings from a share in determining his conduct. Scarcely ever do men, and least of all penitents, act from pure and unmixed motives. What sentiment, then, do we find kneaded up with that emptiness and sense of want, which appears to have been his primary motive? The sentiment finds an utterance in that word "Father." He had been very hard for a long time as regarded home ties; but the old affection was not quite dead, it still smouldered under the cinders of youthful passions, which now had burned themselves out and formed a charred crust over his heart. And now it reasserted itself very significantly; "I will arise," says he, "and go to my father." I believe that when God is truly and evangelically set forth as the Father of the human spirit, really related to it by a bond of which earthly fatherhood is only a poor, thin, unsubstantial shadow, there is hardly any soul so lost in sin that it will not make a response, and cry out of the depths of its ruin,
"Verily, Thou art my Father." St. Philip said a much profounder thing than he meant, when he made that request to his Master, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." That is just the utterance of the human soul under the earlier promptings of grace, when it wakes up to the experience that nothing earthly does suffice, and yet feels that there must be somewhere something which corresponds to its boundless cravings after good. Hearing in the Gospel of a Father who is all Wisdom and all Love, as well as boundless in power, the soul recognizes the manifestation of this Father as its one true want. "Show me the Father," it cries, "and it sufficeth me." I borrow from an eminent devotional writer a quaint but beautiful illustration of this truth. He says that there are birds which hatch the eggs of other birds of the same species, and rear a brood which is not their own; but that when a bird thus reared happens to hear the cry of its own real mother, by a marvellous operation of instinct it flies towards her, and takes its place under her wings. "Even so," he says, "our heart, though reared and nourished under the wings of Nature, amidst the material and transitory objects of the earth, yet no sooner hears a true representation of the Heavenly Father, than it feels drawn towards Him by a spiritual instinct, the operation of which shows that it was made for God originally, and that in God only can it find rest."
My dear readers, is there any one of you, however
hard and indifferent to true religion he may at present seem to be, who does not feel an interest in these observations? Is there any one of you, however worldly and careless, nay, bad and vicious he may be, whose stagnant heart is not from time to time stirred by an earnest wish that he were better? Well, even that wish is a pure breath from heaven, wafted to you (as it were) across the waters of your Baptism. Is there any one, however sunk into spiritual insensibility, who does not feel somewhat attracted by the testimony of a Heavenly Father, and in whose heart there does not spring up, on such a testimony being made, an irrepressible desire to know something of this Father? Is there any one, however happy his lot, whose lot altogether contents him, so that he can say, "I have enough"? Then, if these and the like aspirations from time to time find place in your hearts, why do you not follow in the direction in which they lead? Why do you not cast off sin, or make such a resolute effort to cast it off, and take such a stride in that direction as God may meet half way? Remember, that the penitent son had not completed his return he was yet "a great way off" from his home-had only his face set and his steps bent homeward, when "his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." If the thought of God is so attractive, why not suffer yourself to be drawn by it? Why not seek God in prayer, through the name of His
Is He so over-abundantly "loving unto every