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damnation. But if the man repents and turns from sin, the Spirit will at once return to him as a messenger of rest and peace, and will renew him to repentance. The Holy Spirit, if I may so speak, knocks at the heart's door of every man on whom hands are laid in confirmation, though many will not answer to His knock or entertain Him with their heart's affections, or welcome His presence as a cherished visitant. The fact that a man is no better for confirmation is no proof that the Spirit is not bestowed upon him. It is only a proof that he has not used the gift.
Believe then, my dear brethren, that grace is given in laying on of hands. It is given through man's instrumentality, but it is, as St. Peter calls it, “the gift of God." The Holy Ghost is then imparted as a gift. I say emphatically, as a gift. He is not to be bought. Simon thought that money could procure this gift. Simon was in error. It is not to be bought for money. Nor is it to be bought at all. Works cannot buy it. Faith is unable to demand it. Holiness cannot earn it. Nothing can deserve it. It is given freely by a God of love. It is of this gift as of every gift that the prophet is speaking when he says, one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money come ye buy and eat.”
Come, then, all who have not yet received it. Come to receive this grace and strength. Come to be confirmed and blessed. I invite young men especially. But few as yet have given in their names. Mahomet said that women had no souls, and we think that this was strange doctrine. But do not many act as though they thought that young men had no souls? It is taken for granted that young men must sow.their wild oats, and neglect religion, and wait till they are
66 Ho every old before they think. This is a very dangerous yet common doctrine. But do not let us act as if it was true.
It is never too soon to begin to serve God. The earlier the easier and the better. In God's name I ask you all,
younger brethren, Come to receive a Father's blessing. Come, that you may be strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Come in faith, and then, though you will not see what Simon saw, you will have what Simon saw not.
You will receive the confirming graces of the Spirit, and having been washed already in regenerating waters you will be renewed by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.
MOSES AND THE PROPHETS. ·
ST. LUKE xvi, 31. “If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be
persuaded though one rose from the dead.” ESE are weighty words, put into the mouth of
Father Abraham, who speaks to the living out of the region of the dead. Their immediate purport is to inform that rich sinner of the parable, who, having lived for self on earth, had found himself at death condemned to everlasting pains in hell, that no message which Lazarus might carry to his five brothers would have
their conduct or avail to change their lives. A voice from the dead would have no special efficacy. A vision from the tomb would not persuade them to believe. Moses and the Prophets have spoken to them. The word of God Himself has long declared to them their duty, and warned them against the sad consequences of unrepented sin. And if they hear not this, nothing will persuade them; “neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”
You must feel that these words contain a deep and most important truth. And, further, as all truth is more or less prophetic, and that which is true of man's nature is continually exemplified in man's conduct, you can scarcely think of them without at once remembering those signal proofs of their entire accordance with fact and reality which were given but shortly after by the acts of those very Pharisees to whom the parable was spoken, who when Lazarus came to them from the dead at the command of Christ desired to extinguish his testimony by putting him to death, and who afterwards, when our Lord Himself arose in His own person, and poured a flood of light upon all that Moses and the Prophets had spoken, still resisted even this evidence, and would not be persuaded though one did rise from the dead.
It is a common error to ascribe to lack of evidence the want of faith. Men often think, and sometimes say, that if they knew more they would be better men. And I believe that frequently men utter within their hearts, or even speak to others, the very substance of the words which are now before us, saying, Well, I wish that some dead man would come out of his grave
and tell me about the world unseen, for I am sure that such a sight would work upon me and make me try to be a better man.' It is, I am sure, a common thing for men who know something about a world to come, to think that if they knew a little more about it, and had what seems to them a little clearer evidence of its actual reality, they would be more likely to act upon their knowledge and amend their lives.
Now the text shows us that this is a delusion, a great delusion. Of course there are cases in which evidences play a great and most important part. When a man has been brought up in error-in no religion or in a false religion—and has not been subject in childhood to the influences of Christian
truth, so that his mind has become possessed by false principles and wrong belief, evidence may do a great deal towards working in his mind the beginnings of conviction, and removing the barriers which shut out the deeper and more inward influences of the truth. When scales of ignorance are on the eyes, evidence may do a great deal to remove them, and restore the eyes to a natural condition. But evidence at best is only the pioneer of truth. Evidence speaks to the intellect. Evidence increases knowledge. But spiri
. tual truth is not seen by mere intellect or acquired by mere knowledge. The eye which sees it is the eye of faith ; and unless this eye exists and exerts its energies, evidence may prove the truth and knowledge may plainly teach it, but the heart will not receive it or make it tell upon the life. Evidence may do a great deal when only the intellect is in error, but evidence can do nothing when, as far more commonly happens, the error lies deeper and makes blind the heart. It is our Lord Who says, “ If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” If having light and evidence sufficient to bring truth before them they walk not in that light, and act not up to what they know, a little more light would make no difference. It is not light which they need but eyes, eyes to use the light. When a man has eyes the more light he has the better can he see. He can see in the light of a candle. He can see still better when the sun shines. But a blind man is dark within and therefore in the dark always, and he can see equally at noon or midnight, because he cannot see at all. It is not light, which is wanting. Most of us have light sufficient; but that which we need is love.