« AnteriorContinuar »
promise. By his death he obtained the Holy Spirit to dwell in his people, and to abide with them. This he intimated to bis disciples, for their comfort and encouragement, when they were about to lose bis bodily presence, (John xvi. 7.) “ It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And, in another place, “ I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth, who shall abide with you;'-— who shall abide with you, and that not for a season only, but “for ever.”
With what tenderness did he recommend them to his heavenly Father, in his last intercessory prayer upon earth, (John xvii. 11.) “ And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.” Is it possible, then, that God should forsake those for whom his well-beloved Son pleads with such earnestness and affection? Especially if it be considered, in the
4th and last place, That his own glory is interested in the accomplishment of this gracious promise. I mean that glory which consists in making effectual the purposes of his grace towards those whom he hath chosen out of the world. For were he to leave or forsake his people, they must fall a prey to their spiritual enemies, and yield to the adversary of God and man, that triumph which he hath sought from the beginning. That apostate spirit never deserts his purpose of ensnaring and destroying the souls of men. He is ever on the watch to seize them in a defenceless moment; so that were God to leave them without his protection, they would fall victims to his artifices. And will be suffer his purposes thus to be baffled by his declared foe? It can. not be; and therefore he never will leave nor forsake his people.
I shall now conclude this discourse with a short practical improvement, addressed to two different classes of people. And the
1st Sort of persons to whom I will address myself, are those who are yet in a state of alienation from God. It is possible, that at present you may not see the va. lue of this promise which I have been unfolding. You have never, perhaps, been sensible of the vanity of earthly enjoyments; or if you have been weary of some of them, you promise yourselves a permanent satisfaction in others. Alas! this is a delusive expectation; for happiness never can be extracted from the creatures. God hath pronounced an irreversible decree of vanity upon them all. Ye are therefore pursuing what will for ever flee from you ;-ye are feeding upon mere husks, which can neither nourish nor satisfy you. But though you should even be contented with this poor and emply portion, yet you cannot always enjoy it; for what will you do when every earthly prop is tottering and ready to sink under you? What will ye do at that period, when neither riches, nor power, nor friends, nor any thing that this world affords, will be able to give you the least re. lief? Let me therefore entreat you speedily to seek the favour of that God who is the only adequate portion of an immortal soul. Listen to that kind expostulation and advice, (Isa. lv. 2, 3.) “ Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and yonr souls shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” But I now address myself, in the
2d Place, to those happy persons who are in a state of friendship with God. To you then I say, that this gracious promise should both excite and encourage you to steadfastness in the way of religion. “For if God be with you, who can be against you?” “ Be strong then in the Lord, and in the power of his might." All necessary aid is provided for you in the tenor of the well-ordered covenant, and will not fail to be imparted to you in the time of your need. Your help is laid on one who is mighty to save, and who is no less willing than able to support you under all your trials, “Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end." But the principal improvement which you ought to make of this promise, is to put away from your
minds all dissatisfaction with your present condition, or anxiety about your future provision in the world. God hath charged himself with the care of providing for you while you are here. He hath not, indeed, promised you an exemption from poverty, hardships, or afflictions; but he hath assured you, that these things are no tokens of his displeasure; nay, on the contrary, that they are intended for your greatest good, and that he is never nearer to his people than when they are in the furnace of affliction. What abundant reason then have you to be contented with whatever lot he is pleased to appoint you in the world, and to look beyond all the momentary distresses you now suffer, to that incorruptible inheritance which is reserved for you in heaven. “Let your conversation then be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
SERMON LI. .
Preached on a Day of Thanksgiving, after the dispensation of
the Lord's Supper.
GALATIANS v. 24.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh,
with the affections and lusts.
No man, who hath experienced the deceitfulness of
' his own heart, will think the subject of this text impro. per for the present occasion. It is true this day is set apart for thanksgiving; and with the highest pleasure would I enter on the delightful theme of divine love and condescension, which shall employ the praises of the redeemed through endless ages. But a solicitous concern, that your joy may be well founded, hath induced me to propose to you a strict examination of yourselves, whetber you have indeed an interest in him, through whom all favour and good will to sinners is conveyed. The text furnisheth us with an infallible rule to direct our judgment in this inquiry. “ They that are Christ's,” pot all who are called by his name, but they who are united to bim, as the branches are united to the vine, who are governed by his Spirit, and have a right to the benefits of his purchase, are distinguished by this attainment, “ They have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
In discoursing on these words, I propose,
First, To show what is meant by crucifying the flesh, with the affections and lusts.
Secondly. To show, that it is the distinguishing character and the real attainment of all who are Christ's, to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. And then to conclude with an improvement suited to the occasion of our present meeting.
I BEGIN with inquiring what is meant by “crucifying the flesh, with the affections and lusts." By “the flesh," we are to understand the corrupt nature of man; and by " the affections and lusts, those depraved appetites which maintain their power within us, until the renew. ing grace of God implant in us those seeds of holiness, by which the image of God is formed in our soul. When man came first from the bands of his Maker, his reason, pure and uncorrupted, was the governing principle of his mind. But by transgressing the original commandment, and eating the forbidden fruit, in compliance with a mean corporeal appetite, the sensitive part of his nature obtained that dominion or predominancy which it still maintains in every unrenewed man. Accordingly, we find our natural condition opposed in Scripture, to our regenerated state, under the metapborical expressions of flesh and spirit. “ 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The meaning is plainly this: the temper and dispositions which we bring with us into the world by ordinary generation, are, since the fall, carnal and depraved; whereas the temper and dispositions which we receive by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost, are, like their original, spiritual and holy. The same idea is ex. pressed in the 17th verse of this chapter; where it is said, “the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these two are contrary the one to the other.” It appears, then, that by the “flesh, with the affections and lusts," we are to understand the cor