The greatest punishments incurred by sin consist in the loss of spiritual ability. God does not need to set up any external bars to prevent us from entering upon the possessions and advantages due only to the righteous. The prohibition lies in the soul of the unrighteous man himself. He cannot appropriate the things which are the rewards of virtue. He lacks the faculty for doing so. When Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." it was saying that the man who is not Spirit-born is incapable of knowing what the kingdom of God is. No gates and walls shut him out of the kingdom; it lies all about him. He simply cannot see it. Paul pointed to the same law when he said, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, ... and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned." That is the dreadful retribution of unspiritual life: the whole world of spiritual things is made indiscernible. When other people talk about them to the "natural man" they seem like "foolishness," vain imaginings, and delusions. He smiles incredulously or contemptuously. Unconscious that he is blind, he denies the reality of things which other people, having spiritual sight, declare they see. And throughout the whole range of spiritual life the man of carnal nature cannot enter into the experiences of the Christian. That gracious, heavenly light that sometimes "surprises the Christian as he prays," never breaks upon him.—Sunday School Advocate.

The Bible puts much emphasis on internal illumination. Paul prays for the Ephesians that the eyes of their understanding may be enlightened. After the external revelation was given there was need of the opening of the understanding to its light. This was the work of the Holy Spirit, and so far as we fail to realize this at the present time, and seek only to increase religious knowledge by research and education, we are making another serious mistake. Growth in spiritual knowledge requires spiritual work within. Hence to ignore conversion, regeneration, and the transforming grace and power of the Holy Spirit, while making much of the pursuit of external knowledge, may only land us in the deepest ignorance of spiritual things. We shall boast in vain of "modern thought" if there is no revelation of God's thought in our inmost being.

The Advance.

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September 15, 1906

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