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The Nature, and Manner of the Operation, of the

Spirit of Grace.

N

TOTHING is more generally mistaken, though

nothing more important to be known and well understood, than the nature and manner of the operation of the Spirit of grace. Many indeed have gone fo far in profaneness, as to deny, flatly and openly to deny, that there are now afforded to man. kind any divine and supernatural influences; and level the blackest charges against those who maintain the importance and necessity of this heavenly doctrine. It must be acknowledged, that too much ground has been given for a denial of divine influences by those enemics of the truth, who, profeffing themselves advocates for the doctrine, have run into the moft profane enthusiasms, and the vileft jargon. In this Section, therefore, an attempt will be made to point out the absurdity of the former, to expose the enthusiasın and profaneness of the latter, and to fet forth the scripture account of this important doctrine.

We have nothing to do here with those men of wit who not only fneer at the work of the Holy Spirit, but also disregard every thing that wears the stamp of holiness : we rather address ourselves to those who, while they profess an uncommon attachment to the fcriptures, and the one way of salvation by Jesus Christ, in fact, rank themselves among those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.

Those who presuming they can produce a few passages of scripture (without regard to their connection) to show that the terms word and spirit are synonymous, fancy they have made a vaft improvement in the scheme of Christianity; and fo, with contemptuous sneer, pour ridicule upon all who acknowledge the divine sovereignty, and main

tain the indispenfible necesity of the operation of the Spirit of grace, to give a true understanding of the word.

Their notion upon this subject is, that the word itself is a divine power, granted for us to believe by: and that there is no supernatural agency necessary to go forth in the word, either for our instruction, edification, consolation, or establishment; but it is our adbering to the written word. When pera fons of this sentiment condescend to explain themfelves, we find that they look upon the scripture as one would a common history, and maintain that all who understand the use of words, may attain to the true knowledge of the bible; and that it is as foolish to talk of the necelfity of the sup'rnatural agency of the divine Spirit, to lead us into the truth, as to talk of waiting for his instruction when reading the history of England. Upon this plan it would seem that the more wife and learned, they who are the moft skilful in the knowledge of words, stand the fairest chance to enter into life, contrary to that authority which inforins us, that Not many wise men after the filesh are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise ; for it is written I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, &c. 1 Cor, i, 19, &c.If it be asked, why one receives the word and not another? Why do the most illiterate receive it, while che wise and learned, in the same assembly, manifest the most awful enmity against it? It is replied, because the one mix the word with faith, while the other do not. If the question again be moved, how does one come to mix the word with faith, and not another? Then we are told, because he perceives beauty and suitableness in it; which, in fact only tends to provoke a repetition of the question, which when made, we are told, that we are not satisfied with the word-We seek a separate {pirit, &c. And thus raillery is substituted in the place of argument, and anathemas in the room, of

scripture

kripture proof. In opposition to this sentiment it may be observed, that the highest cvidence has been prijented to th wile and learned, of the truth and divinity of the scriptures, without success. Ra. tional and Scriptural arguments have been urged, by him who fpuke as never man spake, with the addie tion of mir icies to confirm what he said, and

yet

all proved ineffectual ; and he who knew what was in man, informs us, that No man can come unto him, except the father draw him. The preaching of Paul drew the contempt of the wise and learned, and was a Itumbiing biock to the reliious, 1. Cor. i, 23, and he point out the cause of this, 1. Cor. ii, 14, The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God for they are foolishness to him ; neither can he know them, becauje they are spirituully difcerned. The Pharisees inade many converts ; the judaizing teachers propagated their false gospels with wide success; yet neither reason, fcripture, nor miracles did, in theinselves, make men in love with the truth. Such is the natural and wilful darkness of man-fuch the awful infatuation that the god of this world spreads over the foul-and such the spiritua ity of divine truth; that until fupernatural infuence be exerted, gross darkness will remain. But here let it be oblerved, that ur belief is infinitely criminal, and that the whol blame of disbelieving the gospel lies at the fine mer's door; Matt. xi, 20-25, Jonn vi, 44, chap. viii, 42—47, chap. xv, 22, Matt. xxii, 1–7.

If any one is made wise unto salva jon, it inuft be cither by the creature, willing and running, or elte through the Lord ihowing moruy. But the scripture faith it is not of him thar willeth, or of him that runn:th, but of God tha. showeth me cy; and indeed, nothing is more firmly established in the sacred records, than that the eternal purpose of grace, manifetted by the appearing of God our Saviour, and publisher in the scriptures of truth, is only applied to finners by the Holy Spirit. All who are

born

a

born of God are said to be born of the Spirit all who have good hope throuh grace, bound in it through the power of the Holy Ghof-all who believe in Chriit, and so are saved from the wrath to come, obey the truth through the Spirit, and are sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God;---love to God also is shed abioad in the heart by the Holy Got; in short, the kingdoin of Christ in the souls of his people is righteo ousness, peac , and joy in the Holy Ghost.

A ain: our Lord when speaking of the Spirits ys, Hejball teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you

Here is a plain distinction between ine words which Chuft spoke, and the pirit by whom the disciples were guided into the truth of those words. It is plain, theref re, that they come very near, if they do not actually plunge into the fin against the Holy Ghost, wko do not believe and confess, that no one understands the truth, but by his teaching; r b lieves it, but by his persuasion; or obeys it, but through His influence and power. I suppose it is customary, upon some occasions, for this class of professors to pray; though I cannot see what propriety there is in their doing so, at any time or upon any occalion, while they retain this notion : for if we do not believe that divine influences are essentially necessary to give the word success, why should we pray to the Father of mercics to edity, sanctify, and comfort us in reading or h aring the word ? 'Is not this drawing near with the lips, while the h-art is far from Gou? And must not such prayers be an abo'nination in the fight of the Lord ? And can any holding this sentiment, pray in faith for a blessing upon the word?

But on the other hand it is readily admitted, that the doctrine of the operation of the Spirit of truth has been much bured and traduced, bs inen who have not the Spirit; who teach that his operations

are

are wrought by mere energy, making impressions upon the mind without the word of grace : yea, fome have ascribed to his agency, the most crude, ludicrous, and even diabolical whims and fancies : all of which must also be an abomination in the fight of the Lord, and if the holy anointing oil (which was a type of the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit) was forbidden to be counterfeited, on pain of being cut off from the people, Exod. xxx. 31-33, surely nothing can be more heinously wicked, nothing more pernicious to men, than counterfeiting the operation of the Holy Spirit, or impofing the de lufions of the spirit of darkness upon men, under the sanction of God's work. Yer what is more common among professors of religion, than to call every rapturous humor of the mind, every impulse of the imagination, and every false fire of the palfions, the work and operation of the Spirit of God? And if

if any one, out of zeal for God, and love to their souls, faithfully expose the delusion, and af, fectionately warn them to avoid the fatal snare; he will be thought an enemy to their peace, and be branded as an oppofer of the work of the Spirit.

It is still thought by some that miracles, or fomething like them are included in the work of the Spirit, even as in the Apostles' days. Such would do well to consider, that those things, which through the power of the Spirit, were wrought by the Aposties, were intended as confirmations of the truth which they preached; but when the whole mind and will of God to his church was completed, their end was answered, and their use ceased; for if they had been continued after revelation was declared to be completed, it would have been an argument 2gainst that declaration. Whoever therefore pretends to them, or is waiting for them, errs, not knowing the scriptures.

Again : it is generally thought that his faving work consists in disposing the mind to seriousness,

restraining

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