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But was an articulate voice actually heard by Jesus? Let us keep in view, as we are able, the character of his feelings at the moment. It was a moment of inexpressible exaltation. Frequently before, during the previous years of his life, his spirit had mounted into communion and intercourse with his Almighty Father. Many a time and oft, we must believe, he had heard the voice of God in the recesses of his own soul, summoning him to his great work. Visions more and more vivid, voices more and more clear had visited him. The purest spiritual emotions had become habitual with him, and he had been daily and hourly approaching to that elevation of mind. and will of which his baptism was the crowning consummation. Then he rose to the loftiest height of selfdevotion, and his whole being was given up to whatever the divine voice might call him. No vow so divine and sincere had ever before been made on earth or recorded in Heaven. Never before had a human will been raised into such entire harmony with the divine will or man approached so near to God. As he came up out of the water in which he had cleansed himself of every selfish weakness, and where he had given himself up to the purest of aims, an ineffable peace filled his bosom and caused his face to beam. The fullest assurance of divine favour fell at once upon his heart, and he knew himself to be an object of infinite approbation. This was the voice from Heaven, infinitely more distinct and satisfying than any audible voice, which spake to him with unearthly melody, and caused him to know that he was the beloved Son of God, in whom God was well pleased. Could any articulate sounds addressed to the outward, fallible ear, have produced a conviction of divine favour so complete and




intimate, as this which was formed within him by the Holy Spirit of God mysteriously communing with his spirit? If, as we may suppose, Jesus described the feeling of that moment to John the Baptist or John the Beloved, or to any of his friends, it seems to me he could hardly have avoided describing it precisely as it is stated in the records. He must have felt as if a spiritual voice sounded through his whole being, declaring him to be regarded with a love like the love of an Infinite Father for a faithful Son.

In illustration of this view of the case, I do not allude to the boldness which characterised the language of the time and the place, although this is a consideration, which, when faithfully meditated, will help us to a better apprehension of this and of all parts of the Sacred History. But I would rather refer to the fact, that almost always, in all times and places, men speak of the deep and sudden impressions made on them, the seasons of mental exaltation, as produced by a voice or voices. I took up the other day a tract which had been thrown in at my door, and which related the experience of an individual in whom a deep sense of sin had been awakened. In his distress he states that he heard a voice saying to him, 'Repent of thy sins and thou shalt be forgiven.' The thought, thus expressed, was by the Holy Spirit so distinctly fashioned to his mind that he started as if an audible voice had addressed him. A short time since, I was reading in a daily print an account of the death of Marshal Duroc. It appears that he had a presentiment of his approaching end, and he asserted solemnly to a friend that he had heard a voice, assuring him that the next day's battle would be fatal to him. Examples might be adduced without number, all showing



how natural it is to represent sudden and powerful convictions of mind as produced by a voice. God forbid that we should be so blind to the mysterious heights and depths of man's nature as to pronounce all these, delusions! It is true, articulate voices, literally speaking, may not have been heard on such occasions, but the fact of impressions (beyond the power of any sound to produce,) made on the mind and made too by the Infinite Spirit who is every where around and within us, cannot be questioned without denying the presence and providence of God.

Especially have they, to whom it has been given to entertain high resolves, to put forth the loftiest powers of the will, felt in their own pure consciousness an indisputable persuasion of a superhuman influence on their being. The conviction of heavenly communication was far stronger than if it had been produced by the ministry of the eye and the ear and the hand. And they have expressed themselves accordingly, averring that they acted at the bidding of a voice from Heaven-that they were guided by the finger of God. The world, blinded by sense, has derided their pretensions or driven them away as insane fanatics. But gradually controlled and moulded by their, power, it has at last bowed down to them, and borne record that it was the divinity by which they were sent and moved. The strength of this faith as it has appeared in prophets and apostles and martyrs, the fulness in which it exists in a mind elevated by the practice of truth, and quickened by virtue, and its beneficial influences-all conspire to make us feel that it is founded in reality—that a divine power is actually present in a holy will, and a divine voice is heard in the peace of a true heart. Men have laboured to reason themselves,



(but their subtleties and sophistries are all in vain) out of the faith, that here in the inner and unfathomed mystery of their own soul is an opening, an avenue, a sense, call it what you will, whereby a power transcending all ordinary power comes near to them, and, according to its own perfect pleasure, elects certain individuals to be prophets and apostles, workers of miracles, utterers of divine truth, saviours of generations and of worlds. All tongues and languages have forms of speech suggested and modified by this divine faith. In the humble emergencies of daily life how often are we made conscious of a new and unexpected force, a strength not our own—a reason above reason.' It comes over us, and it acts through us like the inspiration of a God. Alas for us! that it comes so rarely and its stay is so brief. It is the pure inspiration of Heaven. I am not now using figures, but endeavouring to state what seems to be a truth of indescribable moment, the foundation of all truth, of all belief, of all hope.

Herein is the unspeakable worth of Jesus Christ. Beyond all others he was created in a likeness of God. No other has ever been gifted as he was. He always spoke and acted upon the fullest faith that he was sent and empowered by God. What in others is a dim and occasional faith was in him knowledge. In himself he recognised the Holy Spirit. Of himself, he affirmed, he could do nothing. The Father dwelling in him, He did the works. This was his consciousness. He was born with it. It was the gift and endowment of Heaven. He had acted upon it from the earliest period of his life. But in the new and perfect peace which instantly filled his whole being upon the performance of his first public act, of self-consecration at



his baptism, he felt the inspiration of God stirring within him as he had never felt it before, and he heard the divine voice in his soul declaring him to be the object of Infinite Love. Henceforth there was no delay. Immediately, after the briefest pause, he commenced his high career, and was obedient to the word written upon his heart, to the voice speaking there as from heaven, even unto death.

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