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jest, than be serious about things unseen and eternal.
2. Others put the Gospel far from them, because they perceive its holy character, and they will not part with their sins. They see that true faith in Christ must lead to the putting on of the yoke of Christ. This they cannot endure. They say, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
3. Some impiously despise the Gospel, because they are wise in this world; and in their vain wisdom they do not see in the New Testament arguments, such as might recommend the Gospel to a philosopher. The Greeks sought after wisdom; a figment of their own vain imagination: and not finding this in the doctrine of the Apostles, they rejected the doctrine, and perished in their unbelief.
4. Others reject the Gospel, because it offends their proud, self-righteous spirit. They cannot bear to stoop so low, as to confess themselves lost sinners, indebted for their hopes of salvation to free grace. They wish to contribute somewhat of their own merit or righteousness, towards the saving of their souls.—This was the cause of the unbelief of the Jews, almost universally: St. Paul sets it forth very forcibly in Romans x. 3. “They, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
Here was the stumbling-block at which they fell. How many a proud heart, like theirs, has stumbled at this rock of offence!
Now, it is the office of the Holy Spirit to detect all these hindrances to faith, and to remove them. What a work is this ! To constrain triflers to be in earnest; to persuade sinners to give up their darling lusts; to convince the self-idolizing sophist; and to humble the proud formalist! Nothing can effect this, but the energy of God's Spirit !
Unbelief, we see, finds a congenial soil, equally in the head, the heart, or the evil habits of the sinner. None but the Spirit can turn up this hard and stubborn soil, and pluck up this deadly sin by the roots. This effect the Spirit did produce, and that to a most wonderful degree, on the day of Pentecost; constraining thousands, who had joined in killing the Lord of glory, to cry out, “ Men and brethren what shall we do?” The same effect he produces in every age, wherever Christ Crucified is faithfully preached. O may the Holy Ghost continue to convince men of the desperate criminality of unbelief! May be lead us to a simple spirit of faith! Let these truths be immoveably settled in our minds—“He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life: and be that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” “ And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (John iii. 36, and 1 John v. 20.)
THE SPIRIT, CONVINCING THE WORLD OF
JOHN xvi. 10.
Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me
The second subject, concerning which the Spirit was to convince the world, is stated by our Lord to be, Righteousness. And the consideration by which men were to be convinced of righteousness, is also named; “Because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more.”
The Ascension of Christ to heaven, therefore, is THE FACT, by means of which the Spirit was to affect the minds of men; from the first age of the Church, to the very end of time. Christ was ere long to ascend, and sit down on the right hand of the Majesty on high :-he would thenceforth no more be seen (“ye see me no more”) in a state of humiliation ;-thus exalted, he would send down the Spirit to “ convince the world of righteousness.” The particular meaning of the word, Righteousness, in this place, must be sought for, consequently, in its connection with Christ's ascension to glory.
Now there are two senses of the word, closely connected with the fact of Christ's ascension. The one is, the personal Innocency of our Lord; the other, that method of Righteousness, whereby a sinner is justified, when he believes in Jesus Christ the righteous. Both these interpretations are supported by the doctrine and the writings of the Apostles; and the working of the Holy Spirit was manifested in both these respects. We conclude, therefore, that the word “Righteousness" here refers to both.
1. First, the Spirit convinced men of the Innocency of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was given up by the chief priests and the people into the hands of Pilate, whom they overpowered with their cries of “ Crucify him, crucify him;" the plea they urged, was, “ If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.” Again, no sooner had Jesus breathed his last, than the Chief Priests and Pharisees were ready with their plot, intending to secure the body of Christ in the tomb, under a seal and guard; and on this occasion they repeated their opprobrious language, saying to Pilate, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, After three days I will arise again.” The whole nation of the Jews at that time, according to the prophecy of Isaiah, esteemed Jesus to be stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Far different was the public feeling, when Jesus, having triumphantly ascended to heaven, poured forth his Holy Spirit, giving authority to the doctrine of the Apostles. Then a few plain men, speaking under the influence of the Spirit, convinced thousands in Jerusalem, of the “righteousness” of Jesus. St. Peter appeals to them concerning Jesus, as “a man approved of God among you, by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:” (Acts ii. 22.) He boldly charges them, “ Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you: And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses." (Acts iii. 14, 15.) The Holy Ghost then began to “ convince” men that Jesus, though he was made a sin-offering, yet hinnself “ knew no sin :” (2 Cor. v. 21.) That “ he was in all points tempted, like as we are, yet without sin:” (Heb. iv. 15.) That he 66 was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens:” (Heb. vii. 26.) Thus was he “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead :” (Rom. i. 4.) It was a part of the mystery of godliness, which was thus accomplished; namely, that Christ, who was “God manifest in the flesh,” should be " justified in the Spirit:” (1 Tim. iii. 16.): that is, his righteousness was then demonstrated, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
2. But we mentioned another interpretation of this word, Righteousness; closely connected with the first. The expression of this same Evangelist, St. John, in his first Epistle (ii. 1.), exactly explains this further sense ; “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins."
The doctrine so briefly announced in the single