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the worshippers by one remove from God. He is a Being, external to them, distant from them, personally unapproachable by them; their thought must travel to reach the Almighty; they must look afar for the Most Holy; they dwell themselves within the finite, and must ask a foreign introduction to the Infinite.

He is not with them as a private guide, but in the remoter watch-towers of creation, as the public inspector of their life; not present for perpetual communion, but to be visited in absence by stated messages of form and prayer. And that God dwells in this cold and royal separation, induces the feeling, that man is too mean to touch him ; that a consecrated intervention is required, in order to part Deity from the defiling contact of humanity. Why else am I restricted from unlimited personal access to my Creator, and driven to another in my transactions with himn? And


in this system, our nature appears in contrast, not in alliance, with the divine, and those views of it are favoured which make the opposition strong; its puny dimensions, its swift decadence, its poor self-flatteries, its degenerate virtues, its giant guilt, become familiar to the thought and lips; and life, cut off from sympathy with the godlike, falls towards the level of melancholy, or the sink of epicurism, or the abjectness of vicarious reliance on the priest. Worship, too, must have for its chief aim, to throw off the load of ill; to rid the mind of sin and shame, and the lot of hardship and sorrow; for principally to these disburthening offices do priests and rituals profess themselves adapted :—and who, indeed, could pour forth the privacy of love, and peace, and trust, through the cumbrousness of ceremonies, and the pompousness of a sacred officer? The piety of such a religion is thus a refuge for the weakness, not an outpouring of the strength of the soul : it takes away the incubus of darkness, without shedding the light of heaven ; lifts off the nightmare horrors of earth and hell, without opening the vision of angels and of God. Nay, for the spiritual bonds which connect men with


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the Father above, it substitutes material ties, a genealogy of sacred fires, a succession of hallowed buildings, or of priests having consecration by pedigree or by manual transmission; so that qualities belonging to the soul alone, are likened to forces mechanical or chemical ; sanctity becomes a physical property: divine acceptance comes by bodily catenation; regeneration is degraded into a species of electric shock, which one only method of experiment, and the links of but one conductor, can convey. And, in fine, a priestly system ever abjures all aim at any higher perfection; boasts of being immutable and unimprovable; encourages no ambition, breathes no desire. It holds the appointed methods of influencing heaven, on which none may presume to innovate; and its functions are ever the same, to employ and preserve the ancient forms and legendary spells committed to its trust. Hence all its veneration is antiquarian, not sympathetic or prospective; it turns its back upon the living, and looks straight into departed ages, bowing the head and bending the knee; as if all objects of love and devotion were there, not here; in history, not in life; as if its God were dead, or otherwise imprisoned in the Past, and had bequeathed to its keeping such relics as might yield a perpetual benediction. Thus does the administration of religion, in proportion as it possesses a sacerdotal character, involve a distant Deity, a mean humanity, a servile worship, a physical sanctity, and a retrospective reverence.

Let no one, however, imagine, that there is no other idea or administration of religion than this; that the priest is the only person among men, to whom it is given to stand between heaven and earth. Even the Hebrew Scriptures introduce us to another class of quite different order; to whom, indeed, those Scriptures owe their own truth and power, and perpetuity of beauty; I mean the Prophets; whom we shall very imperfectly understand, if we suppose them mere historians, for whom God had turned time round the other way, so that


they spoke of things future as if past, and grew so dizzy in
their use of tenses, as greatly to incommode learned gram-
marians; or if we treat their writings as scrap-books of Pro-
vidence, with miscellaneous contributions from various parts
of duration, sketches taken indifferently from any point of
view within eternity, and put together at random and without
mark, on adjacent pages, for theological memories to identify;
first, a picture of an Assyrian battle, next, a holy family; now
of the captives sitting by Euphrates, then, of Paul preaching
to the Gentiles; here, a flight of devouring locusts, and there,
the escape of the Christians from the destruction of Jeru-
salem ; a portrait of Hezekiah, and a view of Calvary; a march
through the desert, and John the Baptist by the Jordan ; the
day of Pentecost, and the French Revolution ; Nebuchad-
nezzar and Mahomet; Caligula and the Pope,-following each
other with picturesque neglect of every relation of time and
place. No, the Prophet and his work always indeed belong
to the future; but far otherwise than thus. Meanwhile, let
us notice how, in Israel, as elsewhere, he takes his natural
station above the priest. It was Moses the prophet who even
made Aaron the priest. And who cares now for the sacerdotal
books of the Old Testament, compared with the rest ? Who,
having the strains of David, would pore over Leviticus, or
would weary himself with Chronicles, when he might catch
the inspiration of Isaiah ! It was no priest that wrote, “Thou
desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; thou delightest
not in burnt offering: the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”*
It was no pontifical spirit that exclaimed, “Bring no more
vain oblations; incense is an abomination to me; the new
moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away
with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting: your new moons
and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble

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unto me; I am weary to bear them.” “Wash you, make you clean.”* Whatever, in these venerable scriptures, awes us by its grandeur, and pierces us by its truth, comes of the prophets, not the priests; and from that part of their writings too, in which they are not concerned with historical prediction, but with some utterance deeper and greater. I do not deny them this gift of occasional intellectual foresight of events. And doubtless it was an honour, to be permitted to speak thus to a portion of the future, and of local occurrences unrevealed to seers less privileged. But it is a glory far higher, to speak that which belongs to all time, and finds its interpretation in every place; to penetrate to the everlasting realities of things; to disclose, not when this or that

but how and wherefore all men appear

and quickly disappear; to make it felt, not in what nook of duration such an incident will happen, but from what all-embracing eternity the images of history emerge and are swallowed up. In this highest faculty, the Hebrew seers belong

a class, scattered over every nation and every period ; which Providence keeps ever extant for human good, and especially to furnish an administration of religion quite antisacerdotal. This class we must proceed to characterize.

The Prophet is the representative of God before men, commissioned from the Divine nature to sanctify the human. He bears a message downwards, from heaven to earth; his inspirer being above, his influence below. He takes of the holiness of God, enters with it into the souls of men, and heals therewith the wounds, and purifies the taint, of sin. He is charged with the peace of God, and gives from it rest to the weariness, and solace to the griefs of men. Instead of carrying the foulness of life to be cleansed in Heaven, he brings the purity of Heaven to make life divine. Instead of interposing himself and his mediation between humanity and Deity, he destroys the whole distance between them; and

* Is. i. 13, 14, 16.


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only fulfils his mission, when he brings the finite mind and
the infinite into immediate and thrilling contact, and leaves
the creature consciously alone with the Creator. He is one
to whom the primitive and everlasting relations between God
and man have revealed themselves, stripped of every disguise,
and bared of all that is conventional; who is possessed by
their simplicity, mastered by their solemnity; who has found
the secret of meeting the Holy Spirit within, rather than
without; and knows, but cannot tell, how in the strife of ge-
nuine duty, or in moments of true meditation, the divine im-
mensity and love have touched and filled his naked soul; and
taught him by what fathomless Godhead he is folded round,
and on what adamantine manhood he must take his stand.
So far from separating others from the heavenly communion
vouchsafed to himself, he necessarily believes that all may
have the same godlike consciousness; burns to impart it to
them; and by the vivid light of his own faith, speedily creates
it in those who feel his influence; drawing out and freshening
the faded colours of the divine image in their souls, till they
too become visibly the seers and the sons of God. His in-
struments, like the objects of his mission, are human; not
mysteries, and mummeries, and such arbitrary things, by
which others may pretend to be talking with the skies;
but the natural language which interprets itself at once to
every genuine man, and goes direct to the living point of

An earnest speech, a brave and holy life, truth
of sympathy, severity of conscience, freshness and loftiness
of faith,—these natural sanctities are his implements of power :
and if heaven be pleased to add any other gifts, still are they
weapons all,—not the mere tinsel of tradition and custom,
but forged in the inner workshop of our nature, where the
fire glows beneath the breath of God, framing things of
etherial temper. Thus armed, he lays undoubting siege to
the world's conscience; tears down every outwork of pre-
tence ; forces its strongholds of delusion; humbles the vani-
ties at its centre, and proclaims it the citadel of God. The

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1. 13, 14, 16.

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