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image of our Creator. Great reason, therefore, there was for the Apostle to give this solemn charge concerning it, and the highest obligation lies upon us all to consider it with the deepest attention : which that we may the more effectually do, I shall inquire,

I. In what sense the Spirit of God is said to be grieved at the sins of men.

II. By what kind of sin he is more especially grieved.

III. I shall endeavour to shew the force of the Apostle's argument against grieving the Holy Spirit, by whom we are sealed to the day of redemption,

I. I am, first, to inquire, in what sense the Spirit of God may be said to be grieved with the sins of men. There is not any thing of what we properly call passion in God. But there is something of an infinitely higher kind. Some Motions of his Will, which are more strong and vigorous than can be conceived by men, and although they have not the nature of human passions, yet will answer the ends of them. By grief, therefore, we are to understand, a disposition in God's will, flowing at once from his boundless love to the persons of men, and his infinite abhorrence of their sins. And in this restrained sense, it is here applied to the Spirit of God, in the words of the Apostle.

And the reasons for which it is peculiarly applied to him are, 1st. Because he is more immediately present with us. 2d. Because our sins are so many contempts of this highest expression of his love, and disappoint the Holy Spirit in his last remedy. And, 3d. Because by this ungrateful dealing, we provoke him to withdraw from us.

1. We are said to grieve the Holy Spirit by our sins, because of his immediate presence with us. They are more directly committed under his eye, and are, therefore, more highly offensive to him. He is pleased to look upon professing christians, as more peculiarly separated to his honour: nay, we are so closely united to him, that we are said to be “ one spirit with him,” and, therefore, every sin which we now commit, besides its own proper guilt, carrie in it a fresh and infinitely high provocation. “Know ye

not your own selves," saith St. Paul," that your bodies are the Temples of the Holy Ghost ?” And how are they so, but by his inhabitation and intimate presence with our souls. When, therefore, we set up the idols of earthly inclinations in our hearts, (which are properly his altar,) and bow down ourselves to serve those vicious passions, which we ought to sacrifice to his will; this must needs be, in the highest degree, offensive and grievous to him. “ For what concord is there between the Holy Spirit and Belial ? Or what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ?”

2. We grieve the Holy Spirit by our sins, because they are so many contempts of the highest expression of his love, and disappoint him in his last remedy, whereby he is pleased to endeavour our recovery. And thus every sin we now commit is done in despite of all his powerful assistances, in defiance of his reproofs: an ungrateful return for infinite loving-kindness !

As the Holy Spirit is the immediate minister of God's will upon earth, and transacts all the great affairs of the Church of Christ; if while he pours out the riches of his grace upon us, he finds them all unsuccessful, no wonder if he appeals to all the world in the words of the Prophet, against our ingratitude: “ And now, O ye men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ?" These, and many more such, which we meet with in the Holy Scriptures, are the highest expressions of the deepest concern, such as imply the utmost unwillingness to deal severely even with those, whom yet, by all the wise methods of his grace, he could not reform. The Holy Spirit here represents himself as one who would be glad to spare sinners if he could; and therefore we may be sure it is grievous to him that by their sins they will not suffer him.

For men thus to disappoint the Holy Spirit of Love, for that too is his peculiar title, to make him thus wait that he may be gracious, and pay attendance on us through our whole course of folly and vanity, and to stand by, and be a witness of our stubbornness, with the importunate offers of infinite kindness in his hands, is a practice of such a nature, that no gracious mind can bear the thoughts of it. It is an argument of God's unbounded mercy, that he is pleased to express, that he is only grieved at it: that his indignation does not flame out against those who are thus basely ungrateful, and consume them in a moment,

It was such ingratitude as this in the Jews, after numberless experiences of his extraordinary mercies towards them, that made Infinite Love, at last, turn in bitterness to reward them according to their doings, as we find the account given by the Prophets in the most affecting and lively manner. And surely, considering the much greater obligations he hath laid on us, who enjoy the highest privileges, we may be sure that our sinful and untoward behaviour, will, at last, be as great as the mercies we have abused.

There is no doubt but God observes all the sons of men, and his wrath abides on every worker of iniquity. But it is the unfaithful professor, who has known his pardoning love, that grieves his Holy Spirit; which implies a peculiar baseness in our sins. A man may be provoked, indeed, by the wrongs of his enemy, but he is properly grieved by the offences of his friend. And, therefore, besides our other obligations, our very near relation to God, as being his friends, and children, would, if we had a spark of gratitude in our souls, be a powerful restraint upon us, in preserving us from evil.

3. But if arguments of this kind are not strong enough to keep us from grieving our best Friend, the Holy Spirit of God, let us consider, That by this ungrateful conduct, we shall provoke him to withdraw from us.

The truth of this, almost all who have ever tasted of the good gifts of the Holy Spirit, must have experienced. It is to be hoped that we have had, some time or other, so lively a sense of his holy influence upon us, as that when we have been so unhappy as to offend him, we could easily

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perceive the change in our souls, in that darkness, distress, and despondency, which more especially follows the commission of wilful and presumptuous sins. At those seasons the blessed Spirit retired and concealed his presence from us : we were justly left to a sense of our own wretchedness and misery, till we humbled ourselves before the Lord, and, by deep repentance and active faith, obtained a return of divine mercy and peace.

And the more frequently we offend him, the more we weaken his influences in our souls. For frequent breaches will necessarily occasion estrangement between us; and it is impossible that our intercourse with him can be cordial, when it is disturbed by repeated interruptions. So a man will forgive his friend a great many imprudences, and some wilful transgressions; but to find him frequently affronting him, all his kindness will wear off by degrees; and the warmth of his affection, even towards him who had once the greatest share of it, will die away; as he cannot but think that such a one does not any longer either desire or deserve to maintain a friendship with him.

11. I come now to consider by what kinds of sin the Holy Spirit is more especially grieved. These sins are, in general, such as either at first wbolly disappoint his grace of its due effect upon our souls, or are afterwards directly contrary to his gracious and merciful assistances. Of the former sort I shall only mention, at present, Inconsiderateness; of the latter, Sins of Presumption.

The first I shall mention, as being more especially grievous to the Holy Spirit, is Inconsiderateness and Inad. vertence to his holy motions within us. There is a particular frame and temper of soul, a sobriety of mind, without which the Spirit of God will not concur in the purifying of our hearts. It is in our power, through his preventing and assisting grace, to prepare this in ourselves, and he expects we should, this being the foundation of all his after works. Now this consists in preserving our minds in a cool and serious disposition, in regulating and calming our affections, and calling in and checking the inordinatę

pursuits of our passions after the vanities and pleasures of this world. The doing of which is of such importance, that the very reason why men profit so little under the most powerful means, is, that they do not look enough within themselves : they do not observe and watch the discords and imperfections of their own spirits, nor attend with care to the directions and remedies which the Holy Spirit is always ready to suggest. Men are generally lost in the hurry of life, in the business or pleasures of it, and seem to think that their regeneration, their new nature, will spring and grow up within them, with as little care and thought of their own, as their bodies were conceived, and have attained their full strength and stature. Whereas, there is nothing more certain, than that the Holy Spirit will not purify our nature, unless we carefully attend to his motions, which are lost upon us, while, in the Prophet's language, we “scatter away our time;" while we squander away our thoughts upon unnecessary things, and leave our spiritual improvement, the one thing needful, quite unthought of and neglected.

There are many persons, who, in the main of their lives, are regular in their conversation, and observe the means of improvement, and attend upon the holy sacrament with exactness, who yet, in the intervals of their duties, give too great liberty to their thoughts, affections, and discourse; they seem to adjourn the great business of salvation to the next hour of devotion. If these professors lose so much in their spiritual estate for want of adjusting and balancing their accounts, what then must we think of those who scarce ever bestow a serious thought upon their eternal welfare?

Surely, there is not any temper of mind less a friend to the spirit of religion, than a thoughtless and inconsiderate one, that by a natural succession of strong and vain affections, shuts out every thing useful from their souls, till at length they are overtaken by a fatal lethargy; they lose sight of all danger, and become insensible of divine convictions; and in consequence, quite disappoint all the blessed means of restora

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