Page images
[ocr errors]

man with God? An union attended with all the propriety of behaviour that we are called to, as candidates of the Spirit ; such as walking with God in singleness of heart, perfect self-renunciation, and a life of sufferings. An union which submitted to the necessary stages of our progress : where the divine life was hid for the most part in the secret of the soul till death; in the state of separation, comforted the soul, but did not raise it above the intermediate region of Paradise; at the resurrection, clothed the body with heavenly qualities, and the powers of immortality; and, at last raised it to the immediate presence and right hand of the Father.

Christ is not only God above us, which may keep us in awe, but cannot save: but he is Immanuel, God with us and in us. As he is the Son of God, God must be where he is; and as he is the Son of man, he will be with mankind: the consequence of this is, that in the future age “ the tabernacle of God will be with men," and he will shew them his glory; and, at present, he will dwell in their hearts by faith in his Son.

I hope it sufficiently appears, that “the Lord is that Spirit.” Considering what we are, and what we have been, nothing less than the receiving that Spirit again would be redemption to us: and considering who that heavenly Person was, that was sent to be our Redeemer, we can expect nothing less from him.

III. I proceed now to the third thing proposed, viz. To inquire into the Nature and Operations of the Holy Spirit, as bestowed upon Christians.

And here I shall pass by the particular extraordinary gifts, vouchsafed to the first ages, for the edification of the church; and only consider what the Holy Spirit is to every believer, for his personal sanctification and salvation. It is not granted to every one to raise the dead and heal the sick. What is most necessary, is, to be sure, às to ourselves, that we are "

passed from death unto life;" to keep our bodies pure and undefiled, and let them reap that health which flows from a magnanimous patience, and the


[ocr errors]

serene joys of devotion. The Holy Spirit' has enabled men to speak with tongues, and to prophesy; but the light that most necessarily attends it, is a light to discern the fallacies of flesh and blood, to reject the irreligious maxims of the world, and to practise those degrees of trust in God, and love to men, whose foundation is not so much in the present appearances of things, as in some that are yet to come. The object which this Light brings us most immediately to know, is ourselves; and by virtue of this, one that is born of God, and has a lively hope, may indeed see far into the ways of Providence, and farther yet into the Holy Scriptures : for the Holy Seriptures, excepting some accidental and less necessary parts, are only a history of that new man which he himself is : and Providence is only a wise disposal of events for the awakening of particular persons, and ripening the world in general for the coming

of Christ's kingdom. -But I think the true notion of the Spirit is, that it is

some portion of, as well as preparation for, a life in God, which we are to enjoy hereafter. The gift of the Holy Spirit looks full to the Resurrection; for then is the life of God completed in us.

Then, after man has passed through all the penalties of sin, the drudgery and vanity of human life, the painful reflections of an awakened mind, the infirmities and dissolution of the body, and all the sufferings and mortifications a just God shall lay in his way; when, by this mean, he is come to know God and himself, he may safely be intrusted with true life, with the freedom and ornaments of a child of God; for he will no more arrogate any thing to himself. Then shall the Holy Spirit be fully bestowed, when the flesh shall no longer resist it, but be itself changed into an angelical condition, being clothed upon with the incorruption of the Holy Spirit: when the body, which by being born with the soul, and living through it, could only be called an animal one, shall now become spiritual, whilst by the Spirit, it rises into eternity. Every thing in Christianity is some kind of anticipation

of something that is to be at the end of the world. If the Apostles were to preach by their Master's command,“ that the kingdom of God drew nigh:” the meaning was, that from henceforth all men should fix their eyes on that happy time, foretold by the Prophets, when the Messiah should come and restore all things; that by renouncing their worldly conversation, and submitting to the gospel insti. tution, they should fit themselves for, and hasten that blessing. “Now are we the sons of God,” as St. John tells us : and yet what he imparts to us at present will hardly justify that title, without taking in that fulness of his Image, which shall then be displayed in us, when we shall be “ the children of God, by being the children of the resurrection."

True believers, then, are entered upon a life, the sequel of which they know not; for it is “ a life hid with Christ in God." He, the fore-runner, hath attained the end of it, being gone unto the Father; but we can know no more of it than appeared in him while he was upon earth. And even that, we shall not know but by following his steps: which if we do, we shall be so strengthened and renewed day by day in the inner man, that we shall desire no comfort from the present world, through a sense of “the joy set before us;” though as to the outward man, we shall be subject to distresses and decays, and treated as the offscouring of all things.

Well may a man ask his own heart, “ Whether it is able to admit the Spirit of God? For where that Divine Guest enters, the laws of another world must be observed. The body must be given up to martyrdom, or spent in the christian warfare, as unconcernedly, as if the soul were already provided of its house from heaven; the goods of this world must be parted with as freely, as if the last fire were to seize them to-morrow; our neighbour must be loved as heartily, as if he were washed from all his sins, and demonstrated to be a child of God by the resurrection from the dead. The fruits of this Spirit must not be mere moral virtues, calculated for the comfort and decency of


the present life; but holy dispositions, suitable to the instincts of a superior life already begun.

Thus to press forward, whither the promise of life calls him, to turn his back upon the world, and comfort himself in God, every one that has faith, perceives to be just and necessary, and forces himself to do it : every one that has hope, does it gladly and eagerly, though not without difficulty ; but he that has love, does it with ease and singleness of heart.

The state of love, being attended with “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” with rest from the passions and vanities of man, with the integrity of an unchangeable judgment, and an undivided will, is, in a great measure, its own reward: yet not so as to supersede the desire of another world. For though such a man, having a free and insatiable love of that which is good, may seldom have need formally to propose to himself the hopes of retribution, in order to overcome his unwillingness to his duty : yet surely he must long for that which is best of all; and feel a plain attraction towards that country, in which he has his place and station already assigned him; and join in the earnest expectation of all creatures, which wait for the manifestation of the sons of God. For now we obtain but some part of his Spirit, to model and fit us for incorruption, that we may, by degrees, be accustomed to receive and carry God within us; and, therefore, the Apostle calls it," the earnest of the Spirit;" that is, a part of that honour which is promised us by the Lord. . If, therefore, the earnest abiding in us, makes us spiritual even now, and that which is mortal is, as it were, swallowed up of immortality; how shall it be, when rising again, we shall see him face to face? When all our members shall break forth into

of triumph, and glorify him who hath raised them from the dead, and granted them everlasting life? For if this ear. nest or pledge, embracing man into itself, makes him now cry, “ Abba, Father;" what shall the whole grace of the Spirit do, when being given at length to believers, it shall


make us like unto God, and perfect us through the Will of the Father?

And thus I have done what was at first proposed : I have considered the Nature of our Fall in Adam; the Person of Jesus Christ; and the Operations of the Holy Spirit in Christians.

The only inference I will draw from what has been said, and principally from the account of man's fall, shall be, The reasonableness of those precepts of self-denial, daily suffering, and renouncing the world, which are so peculiar to christianity, and which are the only foundation whereon the other virtues, recommended in the New Testament, can be practised or attained, in the sense there intended.

This inference is so natural, that I could not help anticipating it in some measure all the while. One would think it should be no hard matter to persuade a creature to abhor the badges of his misery; to dislike a condition or mansion which only banishment and disgrace have assigned him; to trample on the grandeur, refuse the comforts, and suspect the wisdom of a life whose nature it is to separate him from his God. - Your Saviour bids you “ hate your own life.” If you ask the reason, enter into your heart, see whether it be holy, and full of God? or whether, on the other hand, many things that are contrary to him, are wrought there, and it is become a plantation of the enemy? or if this be too nice an inquiry, look upon your body. Do you find there the brightness of an angel, and the vigour of immortality? If not, be sure your soul is in the same degree

of poverty, nakedness, and absence from God.

It is true, your soul may

sooner be re-admitted to some rays of the light of God's countenance, than your body can : but if you would take any step at all towards it, to dislike your present self, must be the first.

You want a reason, why you should renounce the world? indeed you cannot see the prince of it walking up and down,

seeking whom he may devour;" and you may be so far

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »