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4. The doctrine of the PERSONALITY AND OPERATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, follows
preceding; and is a part, or rather a consequence, of the redemption of Christ. For the Bible reveals a comforter and sanctifier, as well as a redeemer and saviour. The Holy Ghost, the third person in the Godhead, (for the tri-unity of the ever-blessed God seems only revealed so far as man's salvation is concerned,) is the divine agent in the sanctification of man. He makes effectual to its true ends the love of God our heavenly Father, and the grace and sacrifice of Christ our great Redeemer. He abides with the church for ever, as its advocate, comforter, teacher, guide, sanctifier. It is by him the Holy Scriptures were indited, as we showed in the Lectures on the Inspiration ; ' and it is by him the understanding of man is illumiuated rightly to receive those records. His operations, secret to us, accompany the ministry of the word of Jesus Christ. These influences are not generally distinguishable, except in their effects, from the acts of our own mind.
They stimulate the decisions of conscience, they assist and strengthen and inform the judgment; they gently and gradually sway the determinations of the will; they thus cure the distempers of the soul, and enable man to receive and use aright the records of the sacred Scriptures.
The renovation and new creation of man after God's image; his regeneration ; his being restored in some measure to his original uprightness; his being re-cast, as it were, and made over again by a heavenly birth ; his transition from spiritual death to spiritual life and activity—or, what is the same thing in other terms, his being formed to a love and pursuit of holiness, to a choice of spiritual things, to a hatred of sin as sin, to supreme love to God and Jesus Christ his Saviour, to resignation and acquiescence in God's holy will and
12 Lect. XII. and XIII.
sovereignty in providence and grace—in a word, his being trained to that peculiar kind of life which springs from gratitude and love, and produces the fruits of all good works-this mighty change, by the power of the Holy Ghost, is the grand operation attributed to that divine person in the Christian system.
5. The doctrines of THE SACRAMENTS AND THE OTHER MEANS OF GRACE AND INSTRUCTION may, perhaps, not appear, at first, of sufficient importance to accompany the prodigious discoveries of the preceding topics; and yet, so far as man is concerned, they are so essential to a right reception of the peculliar truths of Revelation, as to demand a brief notice. For the immense blessings of redemption are not merely revealed, but a subordinate system of means is connected with them. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are appointed visibly to represent and seal; and convey, in some measure, to those who receive them rightly, the grace of God and his consolations of pardon and peace of conscience; as well as to be a bond of union and a badge of mutual faith amongst Christians. The spiritual repose of the sabbath ; the ordinances of public prayer and preaching; the study of the Holy Scriptures; the labours of an order of men appointed for the religious instruction of mankind, all means of grace—the use of which means, connected with exertion on our part in every branch of practical Christianity, with watchfulness, resistance against temptation, and continual private prayer and self-examination, brings down Christianity to the immediate conscience and duty of man, whose reasonable and accountable nature is thus consulted, in the midst of the glories of the redemption which would seem to overwhelm it.
6. THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD AND THE LAST SOLEMN JUDGMENT, with a consequent state of endless happiness or misery, close the summarytruths these, familiar to us from our infancy, and often
DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY
admitted by the Deist, and even claimed by twasy
proceed-gives a specimen of the conduct of that last assize
and pronounces the endless punishment of the ungodly, and the everlasting felicity of the righteous.
What discoveries these !--that this world is only the preparation for another--that man's life here is only the first stage of his long and immeasurable journey—that all our actions have consequences unutterably momentous—that a final judgment will arrange all the inequalities of the present initiatory statethat all the parts of the divine proceedings, now incompletely revealed, will be harmoniously displayed before all the assembled intelligences of the universe --that fallen angels and men will be judged in righteousness, (conscience being the chief witness,) and be allotted to the several states of happiness or misery for which they are severally fitted, as well as judicially and most justly assigned by the voice of the omnipotent Judge.- What a scene! What consequences !
When our Lord uttered that one sentence, “ The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation,"
,"13 — he pronounced a doctrine, which for clearness, for importance, for new and decisive authority, for influence upon the conduct of man, is un
13 John v. 28, 29.
paralleled by all that philosophy or natural reason ever taught.
Such is Christianity in her main doctrines. Let us then proceed to point out,
II. The particulars in which their DIVINE GLORY AND EXCELLENCY MAY, IN CERTAIN RESPECTS, BE PERCEIVED. We observe, then, that,
1. These doctrines ALL EMANATE FROM THE CHARACTER OF GOD AS DRAWN IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. They flow from that assemblage of glorious attributes—from that infinite holiness and goodness which the Revelation ascribes to the one living and true God. All the heathen deities are corrupt, and the corrupters of their followers. The character of their gods is ignoble, vile, contemptible; their vices and follies weigh down their religion, degrade all their ceremonies, infect the elements of their worship.
The heathens sustained their superstitions as well as they could, notwithstanding the character of their deities. Conscience, tradition, political ends, served to bear up the mass of superincumbent absurdity and vice. In Christianity, all depends and rests with its whole weight, on the infinite holiness and goodness of the Almighty Jehovab. It is the character of our God from which all our doctrines emanate; the guilt of man is what this ineffable purity teaches as an inevitable consequence; the mighty work of redemption agrees with the unspeakable love and benevolence of his moral attributes; the gift of his own Son, and the mission of the Spirit, when revealed, are seen exactly to become the divine compassion and grace.
Man has ever been found to bear a resemblance to the object of his worship. In Christianity, the one true God surpasses in purity all his creatures, is the infinitely excellent object of love and imitation, and draws man upwards to holiness and obedience.
This holiness of God penetrates every part of the
religion, sustains it, gives birth to its details, demands and renders necessary its provisions, and constitutes its excellency and glory. It is this which is the spring of all the virtues of Christian worshippers. The more the attributes and works of God-his sovereignty, his law, his providence, his gift of a Saviour, his promise of the Holy Spirit, his declarations of a future judgment-are considered, the better and holier men become. The glory of the Lord is the sum and end of every thing; the first source and final cause of all purity and all joy.
2. There is, in the next place, a SIMPLICITY in the doctrines of Christianity which forms a part of their excellence. They may be summed up in three plain and obvious points: the corruption of man ; the reconciliation of man to God; and the restoration of man to his original purity and dignity ;-points so simple, that human nature, in all
ages, acknowledged them in her feeble manner, or rather guessed at and desired them. The fall she could not but perceive and feel at all times; a way of atonement by sacrifice she ever wished for, but wished for in vain; a source of strength and consolation she breathed after, but knew not whence it must flow. Revelation comes in. Its doctrines are found to embrace the very points after which nature fruitlessly panted. Thus simple is her system—the fall and the recovery of man embrace every thing.
And not only so; these doctrines rest on a very few prominent facts, which are first established, and then employed for the purpose of instructing us in the doctrines. The corruption and guilt of man is a doctrine resting on the fact of the transgression of our first parents.
The incarnation, from which the doctrines of justification and sanctification are consequences or uses, is a fact. The existence and
operations of the Holy Spirit are facts of practical and universal application in every age.