What, then, is meant by this language? language, which, if great words stand for great ideas, and an Apostle does not aim at eloquent speech rather than at the simple truth, must raise our expectations concerning the fulness of the present benefits resulting to us in the present state of things from Christianity. That it is not mere ordinary religious obedience, such as the Holy Spirit may foster among the heathen; nor, on the other hand, miraculous endowment of which St. Paul speaks, when he prays that "the Father of glory" might give to the Ephesians "the spirit of wisdom and revelation," "enlightened understanding," "knowledge of the riches of the glory of the Saints' inheritance," [Eph. i. 17, 18.] this surely is evident without formal proof, and least of all need be insisted on in this place.
3. Nor, again, does the question find its answer in the view of certain men of deeper piety than the mass of mankind,—of those, I mean, who, clearly perceiving that Christian morality and devotion are something extraordinarily excellent and divine, have sought to embody them in a strict outward separation from the world, a ceremonial worship, severe austerities, and a fixed adjustment of the claims of duty in all the varying minutiæ of daily conduct; and who, in consequence, have at length substituted dead forms for the "spirit" which they desired to honour.
4. Nor further may we seek an explanation of the difficulty from such men as consult their feelings and imaginations rather than the sure Word of God, and place that spiritual obedience, which all confess to be the very test of a Christian, in the indulgence of excited affections, in an impetuous, unrefined zeal, or in the language of an artificial devotion. For this view of spirituality, also, except in the case of minds peculiarly constituted, ends in a formal religion.
5. Moreover, the aspect of the Christian world affords us no elucidation of St. Paul's language concerning the great gift of grace. Far from concurring with Scripture and interpreting it for us, doubtless the manners and habits even of the most refined society are rather calculated to prejudice the mind against any high views of religious and moral duty. And this has been the case even from the Apostle's age, as may be inferred from his Epistle to the Corinthians, who could hardly have understood their own titles, as "sanctified in Christ," "called to be saints," [1 Cor. i. 2.] at the time that they have among them, "debates, envyings, whisperings, swellings, tumults, uncleanness, lasciviousness," [2 Cor. xii. 20, 21.] unrepented of.