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painful are some of his discoveries and influences! Does fire destroy ?—He consumes our errors and our corruptions. Does fire refine!—He purifies and sanctifies. Does fire produce both light and heat?—He not only illuminates, but warms. Does fire conduce to our comfort.'—He tills us " with all joy and peace m believing."
It is hardly necessary to observe, that the Holy Ghost is not spoken of personally, hut in reference to his agency and operations. Now these are twofold. First, extraordinary and miraculous—these were confined to the apostolical age. Secondly, common and saving; and these will continue to be experienced to the end of the world. And be it remembered, that while these are no less real in their existence than the former, they are far more glorious in their effects. Though they do not heal bodily diseases, they cure the disorders of the mind. Though they do not qualify us to "discern spirits," they lead us to "prove ourselves," and to "examine whether we be in the faith." Though they do not furnish us with "other tongues," they enable us to comply with the admonition: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
These influences of the Spirit are rendered necessary by our depravity and inability. Some of the wiser heathens confessed the need of divine assistance to enable a man to commence and continue a virtuous course. But what unenlightened reason imperfectly discerned, the book of God has fully established. There we find all real religion traced up to a divine agency. If there be a Christian grace to be exercised, it is called "the fruit of the Spirit" If there be a Christian duty to be performed, it is to be done in "the Holy Ghost" We are said to "live in the Spirit;" and "to walk in the Spirit" And that the Spirit is still possessed for these allimportant purposes appears undeniable—if we appeal to the testimony of the Scripture. Witness its decisions—" Ve are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Know ye not that yo are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" Witness its promises—" I will put my Spirit | within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes." "If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him!" Witness its commands—"Be filled with the Spirit Grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Quench not the Spirit" Let us examine this admonition.
FlBg MAY BE QUENCHED MANY WAYS. The
fill." We speak of an excess of business, which not only employs, but "entangles a man in the affairs of this life." A man seldom, if ever, feels this, in simply pursuing the path of duty; but it results from false aims and wrong dispositions. The man "will be rich':" he deems a superior style of life necessary; he must gain a rapid independence in order to retire and live m a state of ease and idleness, for which God never designed any man. Hence he not only labours, but toils; grasps; schemes; speculates. And what is the consequence i The powers of the soul are limited, and when full—whatever fills them—can hold no more. And as the water partakes of the quality of the soil over which it rolls, so our minds soon acquire a sameness with the object of our affection and pursuit When the man immersed in secular concerns hears the word—" his heart is going after his covetousness;" he is still planning and getting. When ho prays, a number of worldly thoughts rush in, and, by dividing his attention, damp his ardour. He cannot " attend upon the Lord without distraction."
I speak of certain vanities and amusements, in which, after all the wise and warm have urged, some professors, even of evangelical religion, occasionally indulge themselves. Such characters prove the embarrassment of their teachers, and erase the boundary line which should obviously separate the church from the world, by their frequent passing from one into the other. And it they will not admit that these diversions are unlawful in themselves—will they, can they deny that they have a tendency to destroy spirituality of frame, to impair a taste for devotion, to alienate from a life of communion with God, and of preparation for eternity?
I speak of worldly and political conversation, which, so far from tending to "the use of edifying," frets the mind, and genders strife; draws off the attention from the divine agency to second causes; attaches us to a party, and commits us to approve of all their proceedings; and cools religious ardour. If we talk most of that which we love best; if from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh—where habitually are the thoughts and affections of many professed Christians? Surely it becomes us to live so as to "declare plainly that we are strangers and pilgrims upon earth:" surely we should show to all around us, that we only deem "one thing needful," and this is the care of the soul. With regard to many things which properly enough belong to others, but would impertinently engage us we should resemble the devoted Nehemiah—" I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work—so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you?"
Thirdly. Fire May Be Quenched By Thk
Separation or The Parts. And this you will apply to our divisions.
With what earnestness does our Apostle enforce connexion, and co-operation among Christians!" Now, I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." The enemy knows the importance of union and harmony; he therefore labours to separate; and, unhappily, he finds too much to favour his wishes in our ignorance, prejudices, bigotry, and infirmities. How comfortable and edifying is it, when believers meet together, not only "in one place," but " with one accord;" when, of " one heart, and of one soul," they look upon each other with cheerfulness, and embrace each other in holy friendship. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" It is fragrant as the richest perfume: and refreshing and fertilizing as the dew of heaven. It peculiarly attracts the Divine blessing. Hence, says the Saviour, "if two of you shall agreo on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." But how changed is the scene where there are whisperings, swellings, antipathies, disorders in a Christian Church ( Its beauty is defaced—its worship is perverted— its strength is impaired—and
"The Spirit, like a peaceful iIove,
There are some families who are quarreling all day, and then go to prayer in the evening—but this is not "lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting." It were to be wished that some persons would adopt the important duty of family worship— ( but it would be well for others to lay it aside: and indeed this is likely to be the case in time. Such mixtures and inconsistencies are too shocking to be long continued. If praver does not induce people to avoid passion, and brawling, and contentions, these evil tempers will make them leave off prayer, or perform it in a manner worse than the neglect of it The Apostle Petet exhorts husbands and wives to discharge their
all these fair beginning*. Felix heard Paul. It was his own desire. He wished to be gratified by a relation of the pecnliarities of "a sect everywhere spoken against" But Paul, instead of indulging his curiosity, addressed his conscience. He "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." And "Felix trembled." The judge on the bench trembled before the prisoner at the bar. It was not the Apostle's eloqaence alone that produced this effect But instead' of aiding this impression, the trembler dismisses the preacher—"Go thy way for this* time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." This season never arrived. He afterward saw the Apostle, and conversed with him often, but he never experienced again the feelings he had subdued. Let the hearers -of the gospel remember this. Beware how you stifle your convictions, and "do despite unto the Spirit of grace." Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon hun while he is near. He has said, "my Spirit shall not always strive with man. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
respective duties, "as being heirs together! things, and heard him gladly." But he of the grace of life, that their prayers be not | cherished a criminalpassionwhich destroyed hindered."
We may take another view of this part of our subject One truth aids another truth; and one duty another duty. Detach private devotion from public, or public worship from private, and both sustain an injury. Separate practice from principle, or principle from practice; faith from works, or works from faith; promises from commands, or commands from promises—and in the same proportion you diminish and destroy the effect of the whole. The flame burns by keeping these things together.
Fourthly. Fire May Be Quenched By Withholding Fuel. A real Christian will soon feel the disadvantage of disregarding the means of grace. Were he indeed a mere professor of religion, he would be sensible of no such injury; he has no divine principle to watch over and to cherish. You may keep in a painted fire without fuel—but a real one cannot be maintained without it, unless by a miracle. But we have no reason to expect miracles! Is the Divine assistance intended to aooth our sloth, or to encourage our exertion? Is it to be expected in a state of remissness and indifference, or in the use of means!—"The hand of the diligent maketh rich." "For all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them." "Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts or my doors." "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" Thus directed and encouraged, believers repair to his word, to his throne, to his house, and to his table; and are not disappointed. They find him in his ordinances, and they know by blessed experience, that he attends to their complaints, enlivens their devotion, "helps their mfirmities, and supplies all their need from his riches in* glory by Christ Jesus." They who desire soul prosperity, who would not only have life, but have it more abundantly, will be found most regular, and serious, and diligent, in the use of those means which God has appointed for this very purpose, and by which he increases their faith, confirms their hope, and makes all grace to abound towards them.
We cannot quench what we have not The exhortation therefore, supposes the possession of the Spirit, and, therefore, I have thus far considered it in reference to Christians. Yet the words may be taken in a more general way. There is a common work of the Spirit that accompanies the preaching of the word, the effect of which may be entirely lost Thus we read that when Herod "heard John, he did many
THE ASCENSION OF ELIJAH.
And it came to past, at they still -went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and hones of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.—2 Kings ii. 11.
"By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men, because all have sinned." Death is called "the way of all the earth;" and the grave, "the house appointed for all living." No distinction of age, of rank, of character has secured the possessor from the stroke of mortality. The young as well as the old, the rich as well as the poor, the honourable as well as the obscure, the learned as well as the illiterate, have successively gone down to the dust and seen corruption. Yea, the righteous themselves die. Though infinitely dear to God, and distinguished by inestimable privileges, even they are not exempted from the afflictions of life, or the necessity of dissolution.
This invariable law of mortality has however been dispensed with in two cases. Enoch lived before the Flood. "By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Two thousand one hundred and twenty-one years after, we behold, in like manner, Elijah the Tishbite received up into glory. "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of lire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."
Observe, First, How he was employed at the time of his removal: they were "going on and talking." Without this information, many would have concluded, that after he had received the intimation of his speedy departure, he was engaged alone in meditation and prayer. But it is a mistaken sentiment, that a preparation for heaven is to be carried on only by abstraction, contemplation, devotion. No inconsiderable part of it consists in diligence in our stations and endeavours to be useful to our fellow-creatures to the last "Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he comcth, shall find so doing." It is observable that our Saviour ascended, while he was addressing his disciples. "He led them out as far as Bethany; and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."
A little of the conversation is recorded. "And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And be said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so." A vail is thrown over the remainder of this interesting discourse. Perhaps it turned upon the heavenly world; perhaps it respected the state of the church he was going to leave; perhaps it furnished instruction and consolation to his successor in office. However this may be, the conversation was doubtless such as became the solemnity of the occasion. For what could be more awful and impressive! He knew that he was standing on the verge of eternity, and expected every moment the signal of his leaving this world. And could he be vain? Could he trifle! And since "you know not the day nor the hour in which the Son of man cometh, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness! Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. If any man offend not in word, fie is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body."
Secondly. Observe how he was conveyed from earth to heaven. "There appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." Was he removed
by the instrumentality of a luminous cloud approaching and enclosing him, and then rising with a rapid curling motion? Or was he removed by the ministry of angels, disguised under these brilliant forms? This seems more probable. For "are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister unto them that shall be heirs of salvation!" Is it not said that "He shall send forth his angels and gather together his elect from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other?" Is it not said that Jjizu.-us died, "and was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom?"
Though these glorious beings "excel in strength, they do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." And we know that they have been often held forth under the allusions here employed. "Of the angels he saith, who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place."
Let us hasten to something less qnestionable and more important Let us take several views of this wonderful transaction.
I. Let ns consider it as A Gracious UCompence Of Singular Piety. Not that Elijah was perfect We are expressly told that he was a man of like passions with us. And we read that once he was afraid, and fled, and wished in himself to die. But in judgine fairly of a person, you are to bring forward the whole of his character; and to remember that casual infirmities no more destroy the eflect of general excellency than the hills and valleys of the earth destroy its glohosity, or a few motes or clouds a solar day. The circumstances also in which he lives should be fairly weighed; for the power and degree of religion arc to be often estimated by the unfavourableness of our situation, and the difficulties we have to overcome.
Elijah was a man whose religion was uncommon. "He was jealous for the Lord of Hosts:" and faithful and steadfast in his adherence to the true worship of God, in times of peculiar defection and degeneracy. He was indeed mistaken, when he said, "lam left alone:" there were seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to the image of Baal, and whose lips had not kissed him. But though this was a considerable number, compared with his conclusion, it was nothmg compared with the bulk of the country. The nation was gone astray from God; idolatry universally prevailed; all classes pleaded for idols.
He had therefore to oppose numbers. And numbers take off the two common restraints, of fear and shame; and constantly present to the eye familiar and seducing examples. It is no easy thing to avoid following a multitude to do evil.