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my saying, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with


him :"-" without Me ye can do nothing:" for

"if any man' have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his ;" and "as many as' are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."

But some distinction there must be, between the spiritual guidance granted to the Apostles, which was accompanied by sensible miracles, and all that has ever been bestowed, since the cessation of miracles. I do not mean a difference as to the evidence for the existence of each; for both are equally to be believed, if we have faith in the divine promises: but there must be a difference in the character of the divine assistance in the two cases, arising out of the presence, in the one, and the absence, in the other, of sensiblymiraculous attestation. And this difference evidently is, that in the one case, the divine agency is, in each individual instance, known; in the other, unknown. If an Apostle adopted any measure, or formed a decision on any doctrine, in consequence of a perceptible admonition from Heaven, he knew that he was, in this point, in* See note in preceding page.


fallibly right. A sincere Christian, in the present day, may be no less truly guided by the same Spirit to adopt a right measure, or form a correct decision; but he never can know this with certainty, before the day of judgment. It is not that spiritual aid is now withdrawn, but that it is imperceptible; as indeed its ordinary sanctifying influence always was. It is to be known only by its fruits; of which we must judge by a diligent and candid examination of Scripture, and a careful, humble, self-distrusting exercise of our own fallible judgment.

It is conceivable, therefore, that an individual, or a church, may be, in fact, free from error; but none can ever be (either at the present moment, or in future) secure from error. We are not bound to believe, or to suspect, that any of the doctrines we hold, are erroneous; but we are bound never to feel such a confidence in their correctness, as to shut the door against objection, and to dispense with a perpetual and vigilant examination. Even the fullest conviction that a complete perfection in soundness of doctrine is attainable, has in it nothing of arrogance,s See Essay IX. Second Series, § 7.

nothing of a presumptuous claim to infallibility, as long as we steadily keep in view, that even one who should have attained this, never can, in this life, be certain of it. We are taught, I think, in Scripture, to expect that the pious and diligent student will be assisted by the divine guidance; and that in proportion as he is humble, patient, sincere, and watchfully on his guard against that unseen current of passions and prejudices which is ever tending to drive him out of the right course, in the same degree will he succeed in attaining all necessary religious truths. But how far he has exercised these virtues, or how far he may have been deceiving himself, he never can be certain, till the great day of account. In the mean time, he must act on his convictions, as if he were certain of their being correct; he must examine and re-examine the grounds of them, as if he suspected them of being erroneous.

In this it is that great part of our trial in the present life consists: and it is precisely analogous to what takes place in the greater part of temporal concerns. The skilful and cautious navigator keeps his reckoning with care, but yet * See note (L) at the end.

never so far trusts to that as not to "keep a look-out," as it is termed, and to "take an observation," when opportunity offers. There is no risk incurred, from his strongly hoping that his computations will prove correct; provided he never resigns himself to such an indolent reliance on them as to neglect any opportunity of verifying them. The belief, again, whether true or false, that it is possible for a time-keeper to go with perfect exactness, can never mislead any one who is careful to make allowance for the possibility of error in his own, and to compare it, whenever he has opportunity, with the Dial which receives the light from heaven.

§ 10. Such, then, is the view we must take of the Creeds and Formularies of our Church, and of all human, and consequently fallible, compositions, of that class which the Inspired Writers, guided by super-human wisdom, have omitted to supply. To believe any doctrines to be erroneous, which we sincerely hold, is impossible, and a contradiction in terms; to suspect them of error, is by no means necessary; but it is necessary to acknowledge and allow for the possibility of

error,-in short, the absence of infallibility,-in every church and in every man. Nor must we be content to acknowledge a liability to error, in the sense which some seem to attach to the phrase; viz. as applying to the future only, and not to the present: in the same sense in which we speak of a glass vessel as liable to be broken; i. e. fragile; though, perhaps, we are confident there is now no flaw in it. Those who admit that their church may possibly hereafter fall into error, but seem to regard it as an impossibility that she should be in any error now, are, to all practical purposes, setting up the Romish claim of infallibility; for, as the Future will be the Present, so, their successors are as likely to be confident of the impossibility of present error, as themselves.

But the self-distrust, and perpetual care, and diligent watchfulness, and openness to conviction, here recommended, are so far from necessarily implying a state of painful and unceasing doubt, that, as they furnish the best safeguard against error, so they afford the best grounds for a cheering hope of having attained truth. The more cautious we are, both as individuals and as a church, to "work out our salvation with fear

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