"his way upon the earth."* Accordingly he destroyed the whole depraved race, except righteous Noah and his family: yet directly after the deluge, he testified that "the imagination of man's heart is "evil from his youth." Undoubtedly then some vast change had taken place in the human character, since the time when "GoD created man in his own! "image," and pronounced him "very good."


This change, this fallen state of human nature; this depravity, called in Seripture "death in trespasses and sins," made way for "the glorious gospel of GoD our Saviour," which was predicted in emphatical but obscure language immediately after the fall. For it pleased Gon to take occasion from man's apostacy, to glorify the riches of his mercy and grace, in harmony with his justice, holiness, and truth, in saving us poor miserable sinners.-Now the promise of the REDEEMER (GOD manifest in the flesh), through whose person, righteousness, atonement, and mediation; redemption was made and salvation proclaimed, is the grand promise of the Old Testament. "The testimony of JESUS is the Spirit of "prophecy." In like manner, the atonement being made, the everlasting righteousness brought in, the Redeemer glorified, the way into the holiest manifested, and the gospel published; the promise of the Holy Spirit may justly be considered as the grand and peculiar promise of the New Testament: for, in fact, what else is wanting to complete our recovery to

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

GOD and holiness?-Thus, in our admirable litany, we have this morning been praying to the divine Saviour, By the mystery of thy Holy incarnation; by thy holy nativity and circumcision; by thy baptism, 'fasting, and temptation; by thine agony and bloody 'sweat; by thy cross and passion; by thy precious ' death and burial; by thy glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Ghost; "Good LORD deliver us.'


[ocr errors]

I have lately called your attention, my brethren; to the scriptural doctrine of "repentance unto life;" to the evil and desert of sin, as committed against GOD; in order to evince that all men need to repent; and to the love of CHRIST towards all who do repent: so that the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Author and Giver of life, by whose influences alone either repentance, faith, or any other spiritual grace can be produced in our hearts, and practised in our lives, seems a proper close to the general subject. "Do not "err, my beloved brethren, every good and every per"fect gift is from above, and cometh down from the "Father of lights." And, "if ye being evil, know "how to give good gifts unto your children; how "much more shall your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?”

I. I purpose then to make some introductory remarks on the subject.

II. I shall endeavour to shew what is implied in this encouraging promise;

III. Shew, in several particulars, how it suits our present condition, and the state of things in this evil world, and,

IV. Make some application of the subject.

I. I shall make some introductory remarks on the subject.

The Holy Spirit is in Scripture spoken of in language appropriate to a personal agent. He is represented as choosing, willing, commanding, and “ giving "to every man, severally as he will:" and therefore it has in every age been customary to speak of him as a Person. The divine perfections and operations are also expressly ascribed to him: he is spoken of as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent; Christians are temples of GOD, because the Spirit of GoD dwelleth in them; and in various ways, the incommunicable attributes of Deity are ascribed to him. Now there can be but one God; and if three distinct personal agents, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are constantly mentioned, in language which implies divine perfections; then, for want of some more adequate words, of which, in our present state, we are devoid; we say that there are three Persons in the unity of the Godhead. We cannot better express ourselves, though we do not comprehend the full import of our own words; and none, in any age of Christianity, have objected to these expressions, but they who have at length manifested an aversion to the mysterious doctrine taught by them, and to the other grand peculiarities of the sacred Scriptures.

This one God in three Persons, is the Object of the Christian's adoration: into this one" name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," we are all baptized and the mystery which we cannot explain

er comprehend, is yet kept in view, whenever we really exercise faith in the mercy of the Father, the redemption and mediation of the Son, or the grace of the Holy Spirit." The Father loved the world; and "sent his only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins." The ascended Saviour sends the Holy Spirit, to communicate by his powerful agency, that redemption which he purchased on the cross. Thus the

Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son:' as St. John in vision saw "a pure River of water "of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne "of GoD, and of the Lamb."*

The gift of the Holy Spirit, as stated in Scripture, is twofold; his immediate inspiration made men prophets; his regenerating and sanctifying influences, make men saints or holy persons.-These are perfectly distinct endowments. The most of those who have been, and are, made holy persons, have had no prophetical or miraculous gifts bestowed on them: nor can any sober man suppose, that every one, who would pray for the Holy Spirit, should be made a prophet, or enabled to work miracles. On the other hand, some prophets were not saints: they received the Spirit of prophecy, for the use of others, but not that of sanctification to the saving of their own souls.† We therefore entirely disclaim all pretensions to the Holy Spirit, in respect of his miraculous and prophetical gifts: we neither expect, nor teach others to expect,

[blocks in formation]

any such thing. In this sense the Holy Spirit is not now given, or promised: and if any persons inadvertently use language capable of being understood as a claim of this kind, we would enter a protest against it, as inaccurate, and of bad tendancy, however well


We do not expect that the Holy Spirit will be given in answer to our prayers, to inform us immediately, as by a whisper, when either awake or asleep, that we are the children of Gon; or to lead us to this conclusion, by any impression or new revelation; or in any other way, than by enabling us to exercise repentance, and faith, and love to GoD and our neighbour. Here again.we allow, that enthusiasm has often found admission, and has done great mischief.

GoD inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost: and, while we would teach you to depend on the same Spirit, to guide you into the true meaning of the Scriptures; we would by no means allow, that he ever reveals any thing contrary to the written word, or more than is contained in it, or through any other medium. Now, should any impression be made on the mind of a covetous man, an adulterer, or any other impenitent sinner, that his sins are pardoned, and that he is a child of GoD and an heir of heaven; it would contradict the Scriptures, which expressly declare, that such charac ters are in the road to destruction. But the Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself; and therefore such impressions must come from "Satan, transformed into an "angel of light."

« VorigeDoorgaan »