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ON THE PROMISE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
LUKE XI. 13.
If ye then, 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?
In the former part of this chapter our blessed Saviour teaches his disciples to pray; and encourages them, in the most affecting manner, to čarnestness and importunity in prayer. With what energy do the illustrations, used on the occasion, address the feelings of our hearts ! “If a son “shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, “will he give him a stone, Or if he ask a fish, “ will be for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he “ shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ?"
And while every one who heard him must find his heart revolt against a conduct so contrary to parental affection, he added the words of our text:
ye then, 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?" It is not said, to his children, but “ to them that ask him;" that the asking itself might be a ground of encouragement
to every supplicant. In a parallel passage the concluding words are, “ How much more shall
your Father which is in heaven give good things “ to them that ask him?”? But here the Holy Spirit is promised, as the best gift of God to those that are favoured with the gospel, and indeed as comprehending all things which are truly and essentially “ good” for them.
“ God made man in his own image, after his
own likeness.” He had before pronounced each part of the creation “ good ;” but when man had been formed, and placed in dominion over the other creatures, he pronounced the whole to be
very good.” Yet here our Lord, addressing his own disciples, speaks of them, and of men in general, as evil : “ if then ye being evil.” We are informed, in the third chapter of Genesis, how“ by “ one man sin entered into the world, and death
by sin.” Thus man became as “ clay marred in “ the hand of the potter :" and soon after we read, “ God saw that the wickedness of man was great “ in the earth ; and that every imagination of the
thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. “ And it repented the Lord that he had made man “ on the earth ; and it grieved him at his heart.” “ God looked upon the earth, and behold it was “corrupt: for all flesh had corrupted his way upon “the earth.”? Accordingly he destroyed the whole depraved race, except righteous Noah and his family: yet, directly after the deluge, he testified that “ the imagination of man's heart is evil from “ his youth.” Undoubtedly then some vast change
Matt. vii. 11.
?. Gen. vi. 5-12.
had taken place in the human character, since the time when“ God created man in his own image,” and pronounced him“ very good.”
This change, this fallen state of human nature, this depravity, called in scripture “ death in tres
passes and sins,” made way for “ the glorious
gospel of God our Saviour,” which was predicted in emphatical but obscure language immediately after the fall. For it pleased God to take occasion from man's apostacy to glorify the riches of his mercy and grace, in harmony with his justice, holiness, and truth, in saving us poor miserable sinners.-Now the promise of the Redeemer, (“ God manifest in the flesh,") through whose person, righteousness, atonement, and mediation, redemption was made and salvation proclaimed, is the grand promise of the Old Testament. “ The
testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." In like manner, the atonement being made, the everlasting righteousness brought in the Redeemer glorified, “ the way into the holiest ” 'manifested, and the gospel published ; the promise of the Holy Spirit may justly be considered as the grand and peculiar promise of the New Testament: for, in fact, what else is wanting to complete our recovery to God and holiness-Thus in our admirable litany we have this morning been praying to the divine Saviour, ' By the mystery of thy Holy incarnation; by thy holy nativity and circumcision ; by thy baptism, fasting, and temptation ; by thine agony and bloody sweat; by thy cross and passion ; by thy precious death and burial ; by thy glorious resurrection and ascension ; and
by the coming of the Holy Ghost ; Good Lord deliver us.'
I have lately called your attention, my brethren, to the scriptural doctrine of “repentance unto “ life;" to the evil and desert of sin, as committed against God-in order to evince that all men need to repent; and to the love of Christ towards all who do repent: so that the promise of the Holy Spirit, the author and giver of life, by whose influences alone either repentance, faith, or any other spiritual grace can be produced in our hearts, and practised in our lives, seems a proper close to the general subject. “Do not err, my beloved “ brethren, every good and every perfect gift is “ from above, and cometh down from the Father “ of lights.” And, "if ye, being evil, know how “ to give good gifts unto your children, how much
shall your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?" I purpose then,
1. To make some introductory remarks on the subject :
II. To endeavour to shew what is implied in this encouraging promise :
III. To point out, in several particulars, how it suits our present condition, and the state of things in this evil world: and,
IV. To make some application of the subject.
I. I shall make some introductory remarks on the subject.
The Holy Spirit is in scripture spoken of in language appropriate to a personal agent. : He is represented as choosing, willing, commanding, and
“giving to every man, severally as he will :" and therefore it has in every age been customary to speak of him as a Person. The divine perfections and operations are also expressly ascribed to him : he is spoken of as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent; Christians are temples of God, because the Spirit of God dwelleth in them: and in various ways the incommunicable attributes of Deity are ascribed to him. Now there can be but one God; and, if three distinct personal agents, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are constantly mentioned, in language which implies divine perfections; then, for want of some more adequate words, of which, in our present state, we are devoid ; we say that there are three Persons in the unity of the Godhead. We cannot better express ourselves, though we do not comprehend the full import of our own words; and none, in any age of Christianity, have objected to these expressions, but they who have at length manifested an aversion to the mysterious doctrine taught by them, and to the other grand peculiarities of the sacred scriptures.
This one God in three Persons, is the object of the Christian's adoration : into this one “ name of “ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” we are all baptized : and the mystery, which we cannot explain or comprehend, is yet kept in view, whenever we really exercise faith in the mercy of the Father, the redemption and mediation of the Son, or the grace of the Holy Spirit.-“The Father “ loved the world, and sent his only begotten Son “to be the propitiation for our sins." The ascended Saviour sends the Holy Spirit, to commu