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the vast amount and enormity of our transgressions. This is the first step in religion, and the mo§t difficult with all men; for such is the power of self-love, the force of our pride, and the blindness of our understandings towards our own transgressions, that we are but too apt to put from us the unwelcome admonitions of the Word of God, and the influence of his Spirit, and to please ourselves with the delusive thought of our own merit, while, in the judgment of the Lord, we are altogether unholy and unclean. To give us a true sense of our real condition as sinners, is the work of the Holy Ghost alone. Until we receive his grace we are utterly blind and stupidly ignorant upon this subject. We may, indeed, acknowledge our sins in a general way, but we do not feel that we are sinners, and the real opinion of our hearts is, that we are, upon the whole, quite as good as others, or rather a little superior to our. fellows, so that we entertain no fear of our ultimate safety and acceptance on the ground of our own merits, and have no just idea of our dependence upon the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ. But when the Spirit of God impresses upon us the purity and extent of the divine law, and enables us to contemplate steadfastly the course of our lives in thought, word, and action—when we discover that our entire existence has been one continued system of rebellion—that we have never loved the Lord with all our hearts, nor our neighbor as ourselves—that our whole aim in this world has been to acquire the greatest possible share of its profits and its pleasures, without any regard for the will of our Creator— that anger, vanity, covetousness, selfishness, lust, and pride have made up our chief incitements to action, and that when none of these have stimulated us, we have willingly given our hearts to indolence and sloth—that we have, in truth, «erred and strayed' from the way of holiness ' like lost sheep'—that 'We have done those things which we ought not to have done, •and left undone those things which we ought to have done,' until 'there is no health in us,'—then, my brethren, we are 'convinced of the law as transgressors'— then, we are humbled, penitent, and contrite, and have in ourselves no hope of escape from the justice of the Almighty—then we feel anxious to flee from the wrath to come, and are ready to cry from our inmost soul ' God be merciful to me a sinner'—and then, the heart is prepared to embrace, with thankful sincerity, the Gospel of salvation.
2. From this first operation of the Holy Spirit on the awakened soul, the transition to a living faith is easy and sure; for be it carefully observed, that the great enemy to our belief is not the head, but the heart; not the understanding, but the affections. It is a common and most unquestionable saying, that we easily believe what we wish to be true, while, on the other hand, it isimpossible to make any available conquest over the judgment against the inclination. It is not merely, therefore, the dogma of religion, but the acknowledged principle of human nature, which asserts the necessity of a Change or Heart, or, in other words, a change of disposition, in order that we may believe the Gospel. And although it is fitting and right that we should be well informed in regard to the evidences of our faith, and be capable of answering, on the ground of fair argument, the captious objections of the infidel, so as always to be able to give a ' reason for the hope that is in us,' yet the work of faith in each individual is not an argument, but a sentiment—not an intellectual speculation, but a practical feeling—not consisting so much in the fluency of the tongue, as in the warmth of the heart, and admitting of no test so sure as love to Christ, manifested by love to his people. Through this true and living faith an interest is conferred in the perfect righteousness of the great Redeemer. He took our nature upon him, not only that he might atone for our sins by his death, but also that he might obey' the law in our stead, so that for his sake God might receive all whom he should present to the Father as his friends and brethren. This is the righteousness which the great Apostle desired—not his own righteousness which was of the law, but the righteousness which is of God through faith—not the righteousness which belonged to his personal obedience, for this, when properly examined, he found to be nothing better than transgression, but a sharing in the perfect righteousness of his great Redeemer; and for the, sake of this righteousness it was, that he had suffered the loss of all things, and counted them less than nothing, that he might win Christ and be found in him.
Now the production of this living faith, which, by uniting us in love to Christ, obtains for us the inestimable benefits of his righteousness, is eminently the gift of the Holy Ghost. For thus saith St. Paul,'No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,' by which we are not to understand that a man cannot utter this truth with his tongue without a special Divine influence, but that he cannot say it in his heart—say it believingly—say it with those feelings of love, gratitude, and devotion which a saving faith demands. Human effort may address to the understanding the truths of the Gospel for years together without any effect, because we cannot believe until the - heart be interested, and this is the work of the Holy Ghost alone. Yea, the assent of the intellect may be gained, and the individual may talk about religion, and even contend for it with the most furious zeal, while yet not a particle of genuine faith exists within him, and this for the same reason, because genuine and saving faith is the result of the operation of the Holy Spirit on the affections, and can neither be produced by human skill, nor cherished by human passion.
3. The third branch of the righteousness included within the meaning of the text, is righteousness of conduct, which takes in the whole scope of practice—those various works of the Gospel, by which our faith may be known, as surely as the tree by its fruits. And here, watchfulness, humility, self-denial, active benevolence, charity, gentleness, temperance, courtesy, forgiveness of injuries, patience, industry, punctuality, truth, and every other grace and virtue of the human character, advance their claims upon the high ground of our Saviour's precept and example. These, collectively and individually, are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not to be practised successfully by any man who seeks not to be guided by his sacred influence. Some of them, indeed, may be imitated by men, who, from the kindly temperament of natural constitution, the force of education, or the stimulus of interest or pride, may find it more convenient, pleasant, or acceptable. But there is a wide difference, in motive and extent, between the counterfeit virtue and the true one. And as there never was an instance of perfect humanity exhibited on earth, excepting that which was displayed in the person of the Saviour, so the only reasonable hope of imitating it must rest upon the aid of that Spirit ' without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy.' The true spring of all human conduct is the heart. While this continues unholy and unchanged, it is impossible to purify the conduct. But when the Holy Spirit has been received, and has commenced his blessed work within us, we gradually find the effects manifested by a sensible progress in all practical righteousness. Wrath and evil tempers pass away, dissipation loses its allurements, and revelry its delights. The lip is no longer polluted with oaths, nor the brow contracted by anger, nor the visage furrowed with care. Purity in manners, truth in dealings, kindness in social intercourse, liberality in beneficence, equanimity in suffering, contentment in poverty, charity in judgment, and, in a word, 'whatsoever things are lovely, honest, and of good report,' are all sought for and obtained from the same celestial source—not indeed at once, nor to the full extent, for the work of sanctification is the labor of our whole lifetime, but the tendency of the Christian's character is to this elevated point: his aim and his efforts lead him towards it; and thus the Holy Spirit, who begins with the righteousness of conviction, and conducts us to the righteousness of a living faith in Jesus Christ, consummates his Divine work by transforming us into the same image, through the righteousness of a cheerful, an untiring, and a heartfelt obedience.
2. Having thus considered, in its threefold sense, the righteousness in the Holy Ghost which belongs to the kingdom of God in the soul of the believer, we now proceed to consider the peace and joy. 'For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink,' saith our text, 'but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'
On that blessed night when the angels announced the nativity of the Saviour to the Shepherds of Judea, the first subject of their rejoicing chorus was, 'Glory to God in the highest,' the next, 'peace, good will towards men.' And in that solemn hour of darkness, when our Lord, about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners, gave his parting instructions to the disciples, he said, ' Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you.' The Divine Agent, through whom this peace was to