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Once more, The Spirit helpeth our infirmities: and his first demonstration of aid is, in helping us to feel our infirmities. It is for want of this feeling, that we omit to seek him and our first prayer to him should be, that we may be made to experience more sensibly our need of him. In proportion as we labour under the consciousness of our own defects and helplessness, will our prayers be more sincere, more importunate, more effectual; and we shall more distinctly understand what we ought to pray for, and how to pray for it; and the Spirit will at once assist and answer our prayers: We know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Finally, brethren, let me again remind you, that it is not enough to have found an expiation for sin in the redeeming blood of Jesus, if its power and curse be not eradicated from the heart by the sanctifying influence of the Spirit: that as we stedfastly believe the one, we must diligently labour for the other; not idly bewailing our infirmities; but seeking for him who will help them; not merely reading his Word, and hearing of him; but experiencing his power over the heart, in bringing it gradually, but
completely, into subjection to the law of Christ; working in us by degrees a spiritual existence, a continued walk with God, a life of entire devotedness to him who died to make us all his own; a life of prayer and watchfulness, and intimate communion with him; a life of zealous, active charity; a steady progress towards heaven; a shaking off, one by one, of the fleshly hindrances and ties which bind us to the world, and impede us in our progress towards Christian perfection: till at the last we may take boldness, in the fulness of our spiritual growth, to say, There is now no condemnation to them which are Christ's; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit"—and the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."3
12 Rom. viii. 1.
13 Rom. viii. 16.
THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
1 COR. XII. 4—6.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same SPIRIT. And there are differences of administrations, but the same LORD. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same GOD, which worketh all in all.
In these words we have a concise, but striking delineation of the economy of the Christian Church, as it existed at its first foundation; built upon a rock by the incarnate Son of God, and visibly and wonderfully protected and upholden by the Spirit of truth. There are diversities of gifts, (or, as the words ought rather to be rendered, different distributions of gifts.) To one, says the Apostle, in explanation, is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, of a wisdom far superior to that of the wisest of mankind; a
wisdom which its adversaries were not able to gainsay or resist: To another the word of knowledge; ability to understand, and power to explain the oracles of God, and to prove from them the truth of the Gospel: To another faith by the same Spirit; such faith, as our Saviour declared would be of efficacy to remove mountains, and to support its possessor under the sharpest trials of human nature: To another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another the discerning of spirits; the power of discriminating between true and pretended Christians, according to that precept of St. John, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God.--To another divers kind of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. Such is the Apostle's own commentary upon his own words, There are diversities of gifts, but the same SPIRIT. Such was the part and province of the Holy Ghost, in the conduct and administration of the primitive Church of Christ.
The Apostle directs the attention of his converts, in the second place, to the great Head of the Church: And there are diversities of
administrations, but the same Lord: that is, there are different offices and ministries in the Church, which serve to the ends of common edification, when rightly administered by those who are ordained to them; but all are servants of one Lord, members of one body, fellow-workers under one master, Jesus Christ. Here again, St. Paul is the best interpreter of his own words. Writing to the Ephesians, he says of Christ, He gave some Apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ.' And what is that body of Christ? Hear the Apostle again: As the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of that body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. This, then, is the relation, in which Christians stand to Christ, as members of his Church upon earth; and this relation is ever to regulate their use and application of the gifts, which are divided to them severally by the Spirit.
In the last place, to complete his statement
1 Eph. iv. 11.
2 1 Cor xii. 12.