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the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.
1st, Grace. The great God is pleased to manifest himself in Christ, as the God of grace.
is manifold, pardoning, converting, restoring, persevering grace, bestowed upon the miserable and worthless. Grace finds the sinner in a hopeless, helpless state, sitting in darkness, and in the shadow of death. Grace pardons the guilt, cleanses the pollution, and subdues the power of sin. Grace sustains the bruised reed, binds up the broken heart, and cherishes the smoking flax into a flame. Grace restores the soul when wandering, revives it when fainting, heals it when wounded, upholds it when ready to fall, teaches it to fight, goes before it in the battle, and at last makes it more than conqueror over all opposition, and then bestows a crown of everlasting life. But all this grace is established and displayed by covenant in the man Christ Jesus, and without respect to him as living, dying, rising, reigning, and interceding in the behalf of sinners, would never have been known,
2dly, Power. The whole creation proclaims that power belongs unto God.
But in nothing will his power be more illustriously displayed than in the wonders of redeeming love! What power is necessary to raise those who are spiritually dead in sin, to soften the heart of stone, to bring light out of darkness, and order out of confusion? Wherever his Gospel is faithfully preached, it is always confirmed by this accompanying power. How quickly, how easily, did he change Saul from a persecutor to an apostle? Again, how is his power illustrated by the care he takes of all who believe in his name, affording to every one of them seasonable, suitable, and sufficient supplies in every
* Rom. iii, 26.
time of need? So that his weak, helpless, and opposed people, are supported, strengthened, and enabled, to hold on, and to hold out, against all the united efforts of the world, sin, and Satan.
3dly, Bounty. How glorious is Jesus in his kingdom! Exalted beyond all conception and praise; wearing upon his vesture, and upon his thigh, the name that is above every name; and having all thrones, principalities, and powers, obedient to his will, and adoring at his feet. But all his riches and honours (so far as their capacities can receive) he condescends to share with his people. He owns their worthless names, he permits them to claim the most tender relation to him, and to call him their brother, their friend, and their husband. Yea, he says concerning them, “ To him " that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my “ throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down “ with my Father in his throne*.” To him therefore we must look for the most astonishing and affecting display of the divine bounty.
Thus the knowledge of God is revealed in the person of Christ by the word. But great and important as these truths are, we cannot receive and understand them merely by reading. The Lord Jesus therefore has favoured his church with a farther revelation. That is,
II. By his Spirit. This was one principal fruit of his ascension and intercession t. With the promise of this Spirit he cheered his disciples when sorrowing under the apprehension of his departure.
" It is
* Rev. iii, 21.
+ Acts, ii. 33.
“ expedient for you that I go away: for if I
away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you
The offices of the Holy Spirit are various as our wants; he teaches, comforts, sanctifies, and seals the children of God; but he effects all these benefits, by revealing the knowledge of God, as manifested in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.
1. In convincing sinners of their lost estate, which is absolutely necessary to their deliverance. None will prize the Saviour but those who feel their need of him. Two things are necessary to convince man of his lost condition by nature and practice as a sinner, the spirituality of the law, and the sufferings of Christ: the one shows the universality of sin, the other its demerit. But these can be truly discerned only by the light of the Spirit of Christ. While St. Paul (who was never absolutely without the law) was ignorant of the law's spirituality, “ I was (says he) alivet." I had so little knowledge, both of the law and of myself, that I trusted to it for righteousness, and vainly thought that I yielded it obedience, and grounded my hopes of salvation thereon. " But when the commandment
came,” when the Spirit explained and enforced it in its full extent, as reaching to the very thoughts of the heart, and requiring an obedience absolutely perfect, ". then sin revived, and I died. All my hopes vanished, I saw every principle, affection, and action polluted, and the corruptions which I supposed were tamed, broke forth with redoubled vigour. Again, though sin is declared to be displeasing to God and destructive to man, by all the evils and miseries with
* John, xyi. 7.
+ Rom. vii, 9.
which the world is filled, and all the punishments which the righteous Judge of all the earth has inflicted on the account of it; yet the just demerit of sin is not to be learnt by the destruction of Sodom, or of the old world, but only from the sufferings of Christ, who has bore the curse for sinners. Nor is it sufficient to know historically that he did suffer, and how he suffered. Where these things are not known by the light of the Spirit, they are no more regarded than a worn-out tale. , But where the Spirit of Christ reveals by the word, the nature, cause, and end of his sufferings, then sin appears exceedingly sinful. Nothing less than this can make the soul abhor it.
2. The Spirit produces faith in Jesus, as having once suffered, and now mighty to save. His blood, his righteousness, his intercession, compassion, and power, are presented to the soul in a light which bears down the objections of guilt, unbelief, and Satan. Then the wounds made by sin are healed. Then old things pass away, all things become new, all difficulties are solved, and God is revealed experimentally to the soul, as holy, righteous, and true, in justifying the believer in Jesus.
3. Those whom the Spirit thus comforts, he also seals * He impresses the image of Christ upon them. Such is the power of the views he gives them of his glory, that they are transformed into the resemblance of their Lord f. Though the first traces of this delineation are faint and indistinct in the sight of men, yet they are perfect in kind. The Spirit impresses feature for feature, and grace for grace $; and the chief thing he designs and effects by all his subsequent dispensa
* Ephes. i. 13.
+ 2 Cor. iii. 1$.
John, i. 16.
tions while the soul remains in the body, is to heighten and finish the heavenly signature. Together with this, and in the same degree, he seals and ratifies to their consciences an interest in all the promises of the Gospel; and, by infusing into their hearts the temper of children, he gives them confidence at the throne of grace, enables them to cry, Abba, Father, and bears witness with their spirits that they are born of God. Thus God is revealed not only to them, but in them; and they are made conformable to him in whom they believe, in all righteousness, goodness, and truth.
Let me once more address,
1. Poor mourning souls. Are you seeking to Jesus? You have good reason: you see he is a mighty Saviour. He is furnished with full authority, and came expressly on purpose to save such as you.
He assures you, that none shall sincerely seek him in vain. Believe his word, and dismiss
He has begun his good work, by revealing to you your misery, danger, and helplessness, by leading your thoughts to himself. He will not stop here; he will in due time accomplish his whole commission, by revealing to you that knowledge of God in which standeth your present peace and eternal life.
2. Careless sinners. How greatly will your guilt be aggravated if you receive this grace of God, the Gospel of salvation, in vain ? Do not your hearts tremble when you think of meeting the Lord Jesus in glory? Have you an answer ready, when he shall ask you why you refused his instruction, and cast his words behind you? The light of truth has visited you, how long will you resist it? How long will Satan blind your eyes? To those who accept not his revelation of
he will be ere long revealed in flaming fire. O humble