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he will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. Whilst you cultivate a childlike temper towards the great God; whilst you approach him as a Father in Christ Jesus ; whilst you believe that he is infinitely wise, gracious, and holy, though you cannot in all respects perceive the reasons of his dispensations ; whilst you are humbly praying to him and studying his Holy Scriptures under the influences of his Spirit ; and whilst you act conformably to those sacred feelings and practices, you cannot fail of salvation. You are in the right path. The gracious, paternal character of God will never deceive you ; he will never give you a stone for bread, nor for a fish a serpent. He will give you, on the contrary, all good gifts by giving you his Holy Spirit, which leads and
conducts to them. Act only agreeably to your prayers in your whole behavior, and your prayers will bring you to the ultimate enjoyment of a heavenly Father's presence and love.
But let those who neglect, instead of receiving, and acting upon, the two points of our text, be warned ere it be too late. Shall all this grace and compassion of our heavenly Father be, as to you, in vain ? Will you yourselves turn the bread he offers you into a stone, as it were, by your impenitence and hardness of heart? Will you convert the fish and egg into a serpent and scorpion, so to speak, by perverting the wholesome nourishment of his gospel to controversy, scepticism, heresy, human ends, your own lusts? Do you continually experience, or exercise, the kindness of the earthly parent, and will you mock at and contemn the goodness of your heavenly Father?
Remember, the direction of our text implies a COMMAND: it binds it upon every human being to whom the Revelation of Christ comes, as his indispensable duty, to believe the kindness and compassion of the divine character, and to ask of him this
gift of the Holy Spirit. If God call on us to pray, and condescend to direct us what to pray for, and illustrate his own tenderness by what occurs daily in the case of earthly parents; our guilt, if we continue to live without attention to this duty, is greatly augmented.
And, observe, the text entirely turns on the sinner's application to him for grace, or not. The promise is to them “ that ask him.” Instead of saying, as the former part of the text might lead us to expect,
How much more shall your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to his children,” our Lord changes the expression (as was the case with regard to the term, good gifts), and substitutes, “ to them that ask him,” in order to remove, as it were, every possible doubt from the mind of a sinner when first turning to him. Thus the encouragement is made depen. dant on the simple asking.
desire for the blessing is constituted the qualification ; our prayer the condition required, our supplications the warrant.
Cease, then, your negligence and forgetfulness of God. Begin to pray. Let this day be the commencement of a new life. Soon may the door of mercy be closed for ever. Soon may prayer become impossible, or useless. In hell the rich man prayed in vain.
Now is, then, the moment of mercy; every thing depends on prayer. Prayer is the ladder which joins earth and heaven. Prayer brings God and man together. Prayer unites the sinner with the Savior. Prayer brings us before the best of Fathers for the best of gifts, the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the first and last duty of a guilty, feeble creature. By prayer we begin a life of religion. By prayer_we press on in it. By prayer we enter eternity. Fain would I unite the whole of this congregation in one determination, one duty, one design, one endeavor, one
A similar encouragement is noted in Sermon V; on John vi. 37.
solemn resolution—to pray, to pray more for the Holy Spirit. Fain would I say of every hitherto careless and ungodly person, what was said of St. Paul at his conversion: “Behold, he prayeth.” And fain would I hope, that when our time of departure shall severally come, we may all of us die with the prayer of St. Stephen upon our lips, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Psalm cxix. 71.
It 18 good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.
“AFFLICTION,” says Luther, “is the theology of Christians; I never understood the Bible, till I was in trouble.” Nor is this wonderful. For as the Scriptures are addressed to “ the poor in spirit,” they can be fully understood only by those whom the heavenly discipline has subdued for the lesson.
This is, then, our next subject as respects the Christian life and conduct, The Holy Scriptire interpreted by affliction. In considering which, we must notice the Trials which befall the servants of God; explain the Instructions in God's word which they are the means of communicating; and show the Result produced.
1. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Sorrow is the child of transgression. When man fell, he departed from God, the fountain of felicity, and became the source of misery to himself and , others; he is now a wandering sheep entangled in the wilderness, far from his fold. His own disordered passions, coming in conflict with like unruly affec
tions in others, and both aggravated by the just retribution of Almighty God, render this world a scene of confusion, disappointment, affliction, crime. If there were no outward sorrows to distress us, dissatisfaction is seated in our own breasts. We quarrel to-day with what pleased us yesterday; we seek change, diversity, novelty. The consequences of our own follies overtake us, in the ordinary moral government of the Almighty, as they did the prodigal in the parable; whilst more remarkable punishments are sent by him from time to time, to vindicate his violated majesty and recover the sinner to repentance.
But the sincere servants of God, like David—who was probably the author of the Psalm from which the text is taken-have additional trials. They are placed under the paternal discipline of a heavenly Father; they are chastened for their profit;" they are under training for usefulness here and eternal glory hereafter; their sorrows are more numerous, and have various ingredients in them of which the world and the ungodly are unconscious; they spring from other sources, and are accompanied with other feel. ings and consequences.
Some arise from their peculiar public duties and relations with others, as we see in king David, Moses, Joshua, king Hezekiah, Paul.
Others spring from more ordinary domestic calami. ties, like those of Jacob or holy Job; or from the loss of children, or the unkindness of friends ; or from depression of heart like Hannah, whom “her adversary vexed, so that she turned away her face and would eat no bread.”
Bodily sicknesses constitute in all ages another large class of afflictions. One is bidden, like Hezekiah, to set his house in order.” Others are, like the paralytic or Peter's wife's mother, smitten with fearful, sudden sickness and alarm of death. The peculiar severity of attacks of disease in India, with