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The New Zealand Evangelist

The Spirit Life

The Spirit Life.

(From the Autobiography of an Atheist.)

Let no man think he can endow himself with this spirit of Jove, light, life. He may discern in whom page 367 it resides; but he cannot take of it and communicate it to himself. He may even say, “I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, and my neighbour as myself,” so merely expressing desire; but he will find that desire is not power. On the contrary, his very first step in obtaining this spirit will consist in the discovery that he can by no means endow himself with it. Misconception on this point was long an obstacle in my way; so great an obstacle, and so long, that it was well nigh the occasion of my giving up all efforts, and resigning myself to the ruin which began to seem so inevitable as a doom. I strove to obey the law; I laboured to imitate Christ; I represented to myself as forcibly as I could, the character of him who came to be the light of men, and tried to put it on. It was all in vain; I could not put it on. Nay, when I had wearied and discouraged myself, with my efforts, and found I became no better, but rather worse, I began to feel arising within me the disposition to contend with God, and to make little of my sins, and to strive no more to perfect that holiness, without which (as is evident) no man can see the Lord. But, happily, the thought struck me—sent, no doubt from him whose eye even then witnessed my helplessness and hopelessness—that though I could not endow myself with the Divine disposition yet He who possessed it could endow me with it; and then in the next instant, I saw not only that it might be, but that it might be the subject of a supernatural and Divine communication. Whereupon just looking upon it in that light, I prayed earnestly for it and obtained it. I said, “Unless God help me, I am utterly undone. Unless He give me the Holy Spirit I can never have it. I am dead in trespasses and sins. How can I infuse into myself that—that life—which I do not possess? The Holy Spirit sits upon the eternal throne, far up above even my highest comprehension. How can I put up this puny arm, and take it thence, and place it within my own breast. How can mortal might move the King eternal, immortal, invisible, from his glorious bright page 368 throne, to make Him the servant of his will! It can never be. Unless He will condescend of His own act to come down and inhabit me, I can never be other than I am, I will beseech Him; perhaps He will hear my prayer.” And I did beseech Him and He caused, so at least I trust and hope. And this is the Faith that he who would live the Spirit Life must have;—he must fully understand that he cannot imbue himself there with, but must by earnest prayer obtain the Heavenly Life from God Himself.

I desire to make my testimony upon this point most explicit, intelligible, and emphatic. I think that the supenaturalness of the communication is not in general adequately insisted upon; and that it is not, by even many of the truest followers of Christ, properly appreciated. I feel sure that few of us, if any, keep our pauperism in all good sufficiently in sight; or depend sufficiently on the munificence of God for holy dispositions. Hence too much trust in natural effort, and so unnecessary fallibility; and hence too faint a hope of the power of the gospel through ourselves upon others, and a retardation of its progress among men.

Before going from this subject, it is my duty to state that, although the discovery has been the source of great improvement, and great comfort to me, it has, nevertheless, not yet made me, by very far, such as I would desire to be. But I can see that the fault is my own, and arises from no deficiency of power in it. I perpetually forget my weakness, and act in my own strength and my own spirit, and fall. But when, being fallen and sensible of my inability to raise and sustain myself, I again supplicate the outpouring of the Divine influence, I can find my self in an altered mood, as it were before I am aware. I am not sensible of the instant of the change; but I find that a change has taken place.

The above extract is taken from a newly published work, entitled, Testimony for the Truth, or the Autobiography of an Atheist. It contains an interesting personal narrative, graphic sketches of Australian bush life, accounts of wonderful providences, and in the conversion of the writer, there is furnished a most striking and page 369 cheering answer to prayer. The evidences in behalf of the Bible and Christianity are set forth with much strength, clearness and symplicity. The book is written with great originality vigor, and elegance, and will amply repay a careful perusal.