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many as the LORD our GoD shall call and the assistance of the Holy Spirit may be obtained at all times, and by all christians, upon the conditions of faith, prayer, and a holy life. He is ever at hand, to bring us into all truth; to enlighten our minds; to direct our wills; to enable us to discover what GOD wishes us to do, and to fulfil that will, when it is found out. That you may be the more sensible, my brethren, of the value of this heavenly friend, of the great importance of his assistance to your happiness and salvation; and of the duty of endeavouring to obtain his succour; I Ι shall first point out to you what we are by nature, without his assistance; and, secondly, what we are by grace, that is, how much our situation is altered for the better, by being under the government and blessing of the Holy Spirit.
We may easily discover what we are by nature, by looking at the state of mankind before the gospel was published; and at the condition of those unhappy people, who, though they have its light to guide them, still live as without GoD in the world." The holy scriptures call the state of mankind, before the gospel was published, a state of darkness; "ye were sometimes darkness, but now ye are light," says
St. Paul; that is, ye were heretofore hear thens, but now are ye, christians; and the same apostle gives us such an account of the practices of the heathen world, as con vinces us, that he did well in comparing it with a state of utter darkness." When, "by the things that are made, they knew "GOD;" (that is, when they had discovered that there was a Creator, by the wonders" and goodness of the works of "his hands,) they glorified him not as "GOD, neither were, thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened; and as they did not like to retain GoD in their knowledge, GOD gave them, up to a reprobate mind, to do those things, which ❝ are not convenient; being filled with all "unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, "covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whis"perers, backbiters, haters of GOD; despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things; disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerci"ful," This is a melancholy picture, my friends, of man in his natural, fallen state, as corrupted by the sin of Adam, and unenlightened by the gospel; but it is a true
and the truth of it is confirmed at this present day, by the condition of that great multitude of christians, (as they call themselves,) who are unregenerated by the grace of God; who, by their own wilful sins, and by obstinately shutting their eyes against the light of the gospel, and stopping their ears against the call of their Saviour, go on still in their wickedness, and are to the full as bad as the heathens were before the preaching of christianity; with the addition to their iniquity, that they sin against conviction, and deny in their hearts and conduct what they profess with their lips; being servants of the Devil, while they say that they are followers of CHRIST. It is a melancholy fact, that every neighbourhood affords us examples of men of this description; of men, who live in the constant breach of almost every law of Gon; who, instead of regarding their bodies as the temple of the Holy Ghost, and purifying themselves as GOD is pure, give themselves up to all sorts of uncleanness and impurity; who, instead of " being sober and watching unto prayer," drown their senses in "strong drink ;" make the public-house their church, and convert the sabbath into a day of riot and debauchery; who, instead of being diligent in their callings, and honest in the things com
mitted to their charge, waste their time in idleness, and pilfer and purloin whatever they can lay their hands on; who, instead of being kind and affectionate to the wife of their bosom, and a tender father to their children, treat the one as a slave, with abuse, and oaths, and blows, and neglect both the bodies and souls of the others; who lightly esteem the ordinances of God, revile his ministers, and sin against the Holy Ghost, by despising and resisting that grace, which GoD in his compassion is ever willing to impart to man. Such, my friends, is the deplorable situation of man by nature; that is, of men who have never heard "whether there be any Holy Ghost," like the heathen of old; or who wilfully refuse to avail themselves of his assistance, and choose rather to follow "the bent and inclinations of their fallen and corrupt state.
Let us, then, consider, in the second place, what we are by grace; in other words, how.. much our situation is altered for the better, by being under the government and blessing of the Holy Ghost. This, perhaps, will best appear, by considering the case of a single individual under these happy circumstances. Bad as the world is, I trust in God, we may find many men of this kind among us; and I earnestly pray, my brethren, that
you may be of the number, or at least may be so struck with the description of them, as to wish, and to endeavour, to become like unto them. The man who is in a state of grace, or under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is convinced that he is a sinner, and can feel no comfort till he has discovered the means by which his sins may be forgiven, and his pardon sealed by GoD. By looking, also, into his own heart, and considering the spiritual enemies by which he is surrounded, the world, the flesh, and the devil he feels that he is utterly unable of himself to help himself, and earnestly longs for some assistance to enable him to do his duty, and please GOD. He goes, therefore, to CHRIST, and to his revealed word, and there finds all that his soul longeth after. His heart is gladdened by discovering that he has there a Saviour, who offered himself up as sacrifice for his sins, to make his peace with GOD; and that he has there, also, assistance promised to him to guide him into the path of duty, and to enable him to continue therein without turning to the right hand or to the left. But, at the same time, he finds, that both these blessings are promised to him upon certain conditions, the conditions of repentance for past sins, faith in his Redeemer, and a steady obedience to his holy