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that he was misinformed, or only partially informed.
What then do we mean, when we speak of the Spirit's reproving, or convincing, or convicting office? We mean that the Spirit brings to the mind Truths, which before were little known, and convinces men's judgments concerning them. Or, He convicts men in their consciences, concerning things which they have done or thought amiss; (which is also properly called “ reproving” them.)
Yet more :-the Spirit is able to cope with tempers the most rebellious: not only convincing, persuading, reproving, and convicting men; but actually overcoming their obstinacy, constraining them willingly to yield, and causing their convictions to issue in a thorough conversion of the heart to God.
2. Thus far have we shown the Nature of this work.
There is a further point to be inquired into; namely, its Extent. Whom was the Spirit to convince?-Our Lord says, He will convince “the world.” What is here meant by “the world ?”
We must not limit this (as some have done) to the Jewish people, or to the work of the Spirit in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost. The Jews were comparatively a very small number: and the day of Pentecost and the few days following, (as described in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles), make up but a very short period of time. The Spirit did indeed then “come;" but being once come, he was never more to depart from the Church. His office and his work were to be as extensive as the preaching of the Gospel itself. Christ commissioned his apostles, saying “Go ye into ALL THE WORLD, and preach the Gospel to every creature:” “Go, teach all nations:” “and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” These expressions undoubtedly show, that Christ would, by his Spirit, be present always and in all places, wheresoever his Gospel should be made known. To what nation of the world, then, or to what age of the world is the Spirit not promised ? Christ is to be preached to all: the Spirit therefore is promised universally. “ He will convince THE WORLD." history of an internal kingdom, a spiritual kingdom. For want of duly considering this, some persons have fallen into very limited and defective views ; looking only, or principally, at the outward means, the outward hindrances, and the outward consequences. These external facts do not constitute the essence of the Church. To know what the work of the Spirit is, and to discern it in any particular period of the Church, requires a spiritual mind. Let us then pray for the special teaching of the Holy Spirit himself, that we may understand the nature of his work in convincing the world of Sin, of Righteousness, and of Judgment. We need experimental piety, and sound Scriptural learning, in order to comprehend these three most weighty words, which our Lord propounded to his disciples, as they were moving onward to the garden of Gethsemane.
The best Commentary on these words of Christ, is—the Acts of the Apostles, taken together with the remaining Books of the New Testament. It is a history, spreading over many countries, and reaching to a considerable extent of time. It pourtrays persons under every variety of character and circumstance:-Self-righteous Jews, sophisticated Greeks, the ignorant Barbarian, the wild Scythian, the bond and the free. After this invaluable record, we have no further inspired history of the work of the Spirit: but by means of this, we may form a just judgment of the progress of the Gospel in the world at large, and most of all in the hearts of individuals. Sin, and Righteousness, and Judgment, are the three great subjects of this history. It is to be regarded mainly as the
THE SPIRIT, CONVINCING THE WORLD OF SIN.
John xvi. 9. Of sin, because they believe not on me. The Gospel was to be preached by Christ's Apostles to all mankind. In this arduous work, however, a certain order was prescribed; namely, “ To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” The Jews were to be reproved and convinced, by arguments drawn from the Sacred Scriptures already in their
possession; to which were afterwards added the writings of the New Testament. The Gentiles, on the other hand, were to be taught, as it were, entirely from the beginning. The Old and the New Testament being alike unknown to them, every thing had to be explained, even the very first rudiments of the law and the Gospel.-But in whatever mode instruction might be conveyed, it was the Spirit alone that could impart life by means of the Doctrine taught. As we possess both the Old and the New Testament, let us in the amplest manner examine this threefold work of the Spirit. And first of all let us consider these words, “He shall convince the world— Of sin, because they believe not on me.”
The obvious thought arising from this declaration, is, that not to believe in Christ, is sin. And from the marked manner in which our Lord singles this out, as an evidence of guilt, we must infer that such unbelief is the sin above all others peculiarly hateful to God, and destructive to
Unbelief was the sin, to which Eve was tempted by Satan in Paradise. She told him that the Lord had denounced, “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Satan audaciously contradicts this; saying, “Ye shall not surely die.” Eve hereupon believed Satan rather than God: she ate of the forbidden fruit, and gave to her husband and he did eat: and thus sin came into the world and death by sin. Unbelief, therefore, was the root of that one sin, which brought ruin on the whole race of mankind.
Christ came to abolish sin and death. He came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and to open the gates of everlasting life to all believers. As the first Adam introduced the curse, so the second Adam brought the remedy. But, behold the dreadful sin of unbelief at work again! The remedy is refused! The blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God, which alone cleanseth from all sin, is despised and rejected! What can possibly be imagined more desperate, than the course taken by unbelievers ?
If we inquire, who is the prime mover of men's unbelief and rejection of Christ, we shall find that Satan is still the promoter of this self-destroying sin. “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the hearts of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians iv. 3, 1.)
But let us consider, what is the particular criminality of man, in respect of his unbelief. This sin springs generally from one or other of the following causes:
1. Some reject Christ, from profane levity and thorough worldliness of mind. They are so completely immersed in things temporal, that they account it mere waste of time to study the doctrines of Redemption. They would rather spend life as a