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his influence, in the humble hope of thus receiving it. -The influence of the Spirit is not promised, except in the use of appointed means. “I will be inquired of by the house of Israel for these things, saith the Lord," when he promised the Spirit. “Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find.” “For what man is there among you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give bim a stone? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, bow much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"-To expect the help of the Spirit without the use of the means is enthusiasm and unwarranted presumption. I know not how it comes to be taken for granted by some, that the diligent use of means and dependence upon the Spirit are incompatible with each other. They seem to be afraid of rating too highly the means and ordinances; as if the Spirit of God were honoured in proportion as we undervalued the ordinances. On the contrary, it appears to me, that a man cannot so effectually depend upon the Spirit as by diligently using all the means. Dependence on the Spirit and the use of means are not opposed to each other: they are closely allied. By the means the Spirit works. They are but his instruments, by which he is pleased to communicate his influences to us. We honour the Spirit not by neglecting his appointed ordinances, but by sedulously using them. He, therefore, who walks in the Spirit will conscientiously and reverently attend to all the prescribed ordinances, He will pray much in the Spirit
. In prayer, the Spirit operates on the soul: he helps our infirmities, instils good desires into our hearts, and makes intercession for us with fervent aspirations. He will read the word, written by the inspiration of the Spirit; and expect that, by means of that word, his mind will be illuminated. He will attend the preaching of the Gospel, knowing that the influence of the Spirit is conveyed through the ministry of preaching. He will receive that holy sacrament which was especially designed as a means of confirming our faith in Christ crucified, and communicating the aid of the Holy Spirit. In short, he will shew his reverence for the Spirit, and express the desire he has of obtaining his special influences, by a devout and uniform use of all those means by which the Spirit has been pleased to grant his Divine assistance to the soul.
4. I observe, further, that to walk in the Spirit implies the exercise of a holy fear of him, which will manifest itself by avoiding those things which would grieve him, and by complying with his holy motions.—There is such a thing as resisting the Spirit, as grieving the Spirit, as quenching the Spirit, against which we are warned in Scripture. This we do, when we sin wilfully and presumptuously; when we give way to sins of impurity, which are particularly contrary to his pure and holy nature,—or to the suggestions of infidelity, by which, the Israelites in the wilderness are said to have vexed and grieved bim. Now he who walks in the Spirit will maintain a holy fear and jealousy of himself, lest he should offend his illustrious Visitor. Though he will be careful to distinguish between the imaginations of his own fancy and the suggestions of the Spirit, yet he will carefully attend to those intimations which are fully in unison with the revealed will of God, and which strongly enforce it; and, impressed with a reverence of his authority, will be afraid of acting against his will.
5. And, lastly, to walk in the Spirit, implies the cultivation of that heavenly-mindedness which the Spirit particularly inspires.—A worldly, covetous, or vain frame of mind is as destructive of the Spirit's influence as acts of gross sin. “They that be after the Spirit,” saith the Apostle, “do mind the things of the Spirit.” The object of the Spirit is to impress the soul with a view of the vanity of the things of time and sense and of the importance of those which are spiritual. He communicates no ideas relating to science, or to gain, or to worldly pleasure or enjoyment; he resides not in the heart which is engrossed by these. His object is
to communicate heavenly things; to implant the fear and love of God; to instil faith in the Saviour; to elevate the soul to a hope and foretaste of the joys above; to encourage holy affections, and to implant the mind which was in Christ. If we walk in the Spirit, therefore, it will be our endeavour to repress that worldliness of heart, that appetite after sensual pleasure, that craving anxiety for earthly objects, which is natural to the carnal heart. “To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” The carnal mind is put in opposition to the spiritual mind. Spiritual life consists in mortifying, through the Spirit, the deeds of the body
A particular temptation is often most successfully overcome, not so much by directly opposing it, and reasoning against it, as by encouraging a contrary disposition of mind. When the object of temptation is present, the view of it too often only inflames our passions, and gives vigour to the temptation. Here we must flee from it rather than resist it. But, in the absence of temptation, there is an opportunity of overcoming it effectually, by cultivating a spirit incompatible with it; a spirit of purity, heavenly-mindedness, humility, and divine love. This is to alter the nature of the soil which encouraged the growth of weeds. This is also to guard not against that particular temptation only, but to fortify the mind against sin in general. For where the mind is much occupied about divine things and acquires a taste for holy pursuits, the tempter will meet with little encouragement. It is the soul that has first abandoned itself to covetousness, carelessness, sloth, or sensuality, which falls an easy prey to his assaults.
If then we would walk in the Spirit, we must cultivate spiritual views, and act from spiritual motives. We must honour him by exercising an habitual dependence upon his help; we must pay a conscientious reverence to the means and ordinances which he has appointed; we must be cautious lest we grieve him, or resist his holy motions; and, finally, we must cultivate that heavenly-mindedness and those holy affections which he communicates to the soul.
II. If we thus walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. This is the second point which I proposed to illustrate.
There is a certain degree to which victory over the sinful desires of the flesh is obtained by every real Christian; and this degree is, perhaps, proportioned to that in which he walks in the Spirit. The flesh, indeed, lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; so that in this imperfect state, while the flesh still remains, there is a constant conflict between them. But though, on this account, the Christian is not able to do entirely the things which he would, yet on the other hand, neither is the flesh, or the corrupt nature, able to act according to its will: and it is added, for our encouragement, that if we walk in the Spirit, we are not under the law; therefore, neither shall sin gain the ascendancy over us, nor shall we finally fall under the condemnation of the law.
The man who walks not in the Spirit is a willing servant of sin: he either opposes not the lusts of the flesh, or he does it feebly and partially, and from imperfect or corrupt motives. He lives under the power and dominion of sin.-On the contrary, the man who is renewed by the Spirit, though he still feels the power of sin, yet resists and struggles against it generally and habitually. His prevailing wish is to be free froin all sin. He is using measures to obtain the victory over it; and, when foiled, he is dejected and miserable. He does not, as he once did, make his sin his pleasure; but it is his burden and pain.
A material difference will therefore be visible between one who is in the flesh and one who is in the Spirit, in the manner in which they will receive this advice of the Apostle. He who is in the flesh will take no pains to understand it, nor will he labour to follow it: he is easy and contented: you tell him of a
remedy for a disease which he does not feel, and point him out a good which he does not wish to obtain.
On the contrary, he who is born of the Spirit, being accustomed to consider the corrupt desires of the flesh as his greatest enemies, will be glad to hear and to follow the advice by which he may be delivered from them. With anxiety, therefore, he will consider what it is to walk in the Spirit. Where he does not understand, he will reflect and meditate. Where the advice appears just and reasonable, he will not delay to follow it. When it succeeds, he will be elevated with hope: when it fails, he will be dejected, yet will still endeavour more fully and more diligently to walk in the Spirit. Thus the honour of the Spirit will be promoted by him, and the work of the Spirit will be carried on in his heart.
Permit me to conclude with a short application of the whole.
How important is the subject of the influence of the Spirit of God on the soul of man! But will God in very deed dwell with man! we may well exclaim. Yes; his influence is promised as the peculiar gift of God to all who believe in the name of Christ. What attention, then, do we pay to him? What is his influence on our hearts? Does he abide in us? “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Are we then walking after the Spirit? Are there visible in us the marks of the Spirit's agency? Could he dwell in us, and our hearts be, nevertheless, covetous, worldly, sensual, impure? If he does dwell in us shall it not be evidenced by effects suitable to his character and office? Shall we not produce the fruits of the Spirit? Shall we not walk after the Spirit? Will not the Spirit be lusting against the flesh, as well as the flesh against the Spirit? Shall we not perceive the effect of his work in all goodness, righteousness, and truth? Shall we not enjoy a spirit of holy liberty in the service of God; draw nigh to God in the spirit of adoption: delight in the law of God; rejoice in believing with a hope full of consola