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this ground, waiting perhaps for a more favourable opportunity, or thinking the difficulties in the way will excuse their conscious and persevering disobedience. But, my fellow sinners, instead of thus
giving place to the devil,” you should, without delay, avail yourselves of that effectual assistance, which is proposed in the words before us : and, while you pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit to be given you, and then attempt to follow the dictates of your consciences; though you must still feel how strong your sinful passions and temptations are, how weak your resolutions, how deceitful your hearts, and how painful and difficult it is, at first especially, to deny yourselves, “ to cut off the right “hand,” “ to crucify the flesh,” “ to cease to do “ evil and to learn to do well;" you will also find that it is practicable by divine grace. “With man “ it is impossible ; but with God all things are possible.”
If then in general you are convinced that repentance, faith in the Son of God, a new heart and newness of life, are essential to salvation, you must rely upon the Holy Spirit to enable you to attain them. If you are called to resist any particular temptation, you must act in the same dependence. If you would attend on the ordinances of God with profit and comfort, and rise superior to the coldness and formality of which we all have too much reason to complain, you must beg of your heavenly Father, for the sake of his beloved Son, to bestow upon you the Holy Spirit of love, and zeal, and gratitude : and, if you find difficulty in thus praying, your only effectual way will be to
that you may
beg of him to teach and enable you to pray as you ought, by the Spirit of grace and supplication “helping your infirmities."
Are you disconsolate, either through inward distress or outward trials? Remember the words of the apostle : “ Be not drunk with wine, where“ in is excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit.” Seek not exhilaration and relief from care and sorrow, by such means as must increase the cause, while they afford a momentary suspension to the effects; but earnestly beseech the God of all
grace, to give unto you“the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,"
peace and joy in believing, “ and abound in hope" by his powerful consolations. In the same manner seek fortitude in dangers, assistance in duties, and the assurance and earnest of heaven during life, and at the approach of death.
Whatever be your station in the community, or in the church, as magistrates, senators, ministers of state, or ministers of religion : you ought to seek wisdom and grace to fill up the duties incumbent upon you, to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind, from the same author and giver of all good gifts. Whatever be the talents entrusted to you, you cannot expect to hear with comfort the solemn call, “ Give an account of thy stewardship, “ for thou mayest no longer be steward :" unless you improve them in dependence on the Holy Spirit, and continually pray for his teaching and assistance.
The same is the case with you, my brethren, who occupy the more lowly stations in life. You cannot be “patient in tribulation, joyful in hope ;" “ contented with such things as you have,” thankful for the past, simply dependent for the future, superior to murmurings, envyings, and covetings; unless the holy Spirit form your mind and heart to a heavenly taste and judgment, and communicate to you his holy consolations. You cannot properly attend to your relative duties, as parents or children, wives or husbands, masters or servants; or go on cheerfully in the laborious occupations to which you are called; or bear injuries and contempt with meekness and gentleness, except under his influence.
And can we, my brethren, wonder, that there is so little Christianity among men called Christians; that the church is so lamentably divided and corrupted ? that so small a measure of love, peace, purity, and joy, appear even where we cannot but hope there is some vital piety, when we consider how generally this promise is, either entirely or in a great degree, overlooked ; and how often the doctrine of the Spirit is even treated with profane ridicule? If all divine life, wisdom, holiness, and joy, come from this source ; and men neglect, and quench, and grieve, and resist the Holy Spirit, in whose name they were baptized ; can we be surprised that they continue “ dead in sin,” and “blinded by the god of this world,” and that they rise no higher than mere formality ? Many of
you might truly say, “We have heard many serions, and hold certain doctrines as 'evangelical ; yet we are conscious that we do not
live as we shall wish we had done when we come 'to die.' But, in hearing sermons and attending to the external parts of religion, have you been
used to pray to our heavenly Father to bestow on you the Holy Spirit of truth, and wisdom, and power? If not, you know the reason why you have received no real benefit. The seed of the word of God has been sown “by the way-side, , “ and the devil has taken it out of your hearts, lest you should believe and be saved ;" or it has fallen
on stony ground,” where it could find no root, and so has soon withered ; or among “ thorns, “ which have sprung up and choked it.” Oh! that you would now begin earnestly to plead the promise given by the prophet : “A new heart will “I give you, and a new spirit will I put within
you; and I will take away the stony heart out “ of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh; “ and I will put my Spirit within you, “you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep
my judgments and do them.”? Then you would find that the seed“ falling on good ground,” “that “the word being received in an honest and good “ heart,” you would “keep it, and bring forth fruit " with patience.” “ Ask and it shall be given you ; “ seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be “ opened unto you: for every one that asketh re“ceiveth; and he that seeketh findeth ; and to “ him that knocketh it shall be opened."
To you who really desire to find and walk in the ways of peace and holiness ; it is enough to say, you have an infallible teacher, an almighty helper, and an all-sufficient comforter. More than this cannot be expressed in human language. “Happy art “ thou, O Israel ; who is like unto thee, O people,
1 Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27.
“saved by the Lord ? the shield of thy help, and “ the sword of thine excellency.” “ The eternal “ God is thy Refuge, and underneath are the “ everlasting arms.” And the blessings which he hath bestowed “ shall be in thee a well of water
springing up into everlasting life.” Begin, therefore, and go through every undertaking in this confidence and dependence, with prayer and thanksgiving ; and you will soon be made “ more " than conquerors, through him that loved you.”
In addressing you thus fully concerning the promise of the Holy Spirit, I wish it always to be understood, if not particularly mentioned, that this promise is given and fulfilled, only through the merits and mediation of Christ. But without the Spirit of Christ we can have no saving benefit from his mediation.
And now imagine to yourselves a large company, a whole nation, a continent, all the human race, universally receiving the gospel under the teaching and influences of the Holy Spirit; with deep repentance, lively faith, genuine humility, fervent love, and a heavenly mind : would not a large proportion of the miseries which now desolate the earth be terminated? Would not the remaining troubles be alleviated? Would not peace and harmony, and mutual good offices of every kind, with temperance, purity, and enlarged benevolence, effectually meliorate the state of human society? Now from whence can that be, except from God, “ who is Love,” which, if duly attended to, would fill the earth with holiness and happiness? Can we shew our philanthropy more effectually, than by promoting this genuine Chris