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given in the apostolic age; (for many, who were Christ's; never received those powers; and many exercised those powers who never belonged to Christ") but we mean those special influences of the Spirit, whereby men are enlightened, and transformed into the divine image-In this sense we affirm that we may have the Spirit of Christ
[In the first ages of Christianity, not a few individuals only, but whole churches received the influences of which we speak St. Paul prayed that the whole church at Ephesus might have
the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ," and that they might be renewed by the Spirit in their inward man:"c and, speaking of the Christian church at large, he especially ascribes their attainments to tlie operations of the Holy Ghost; “ Not by works of righteousness which we have done,” says he,“ but according to his mercy God hath saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost"d_Now if the whole Christian church received the Spirit of Christ formerly, why should not we at this day? Is our strength so much greater than theirs, or the work of sanctification so much easier, that we do not need the same divine assistance? or, when the apostle said, “ The promise of the Spirit is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afur off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call,”e did he mean to limit the gift of the Spirit to the apostolic age?-But why do the scriptures speak so much respecting our having the Spirit? They teach us to pray for it;f they promise it to us;& they require us to make use of it and depend upon it in all holy exercises, to live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, pray in the Spirit:" would all this be spoken if we were not to expect the holy Spirit?-Why, in the liturgy of our church, do we so often pray for “ the inspiration of the holy Spirit that we'may think those things that be good, and for his merciful guidance that we may perform the same?"_Did those holy men who compiled our liturgy think that we had no just reason to expect the influences of God's Spirit!-Is it enthusiasm for us to expect what all the first Christians had, what the scriptures require us to have, and what we ourselves continually pray for?-If we use these prayers with sincerity, the world will call us euthusiasts; but we had better be accounted enthusiasts by man, than hypocrites by God
Matt. vii. 22, 23. c Eph. i. 17. and iji. 16.
d Tit. iii. 5, 6. e Acts ii. 38, 39. Luke xi. 13. 6 John vii. 37-39. h Gal. v. 25. Jude 20.
i See the Collect for the fifth Sunday after Eastcr; and for Whit: sunday; and the first in the Communion servicc. VOL. IV.
We should need to apologize for arguing so plain a point, if the daring infidelity of the age did not render it, alas! too necessary-]
We must carry our assertion still further, and say II. That we must have the Spirit
The aid of God's Spirit is necessary in order to our being Christ's: without it We cannot know Christ
[By nature, we are altogether blind to spiritual things We are assured on most unquestionable authority that “the natural man accounts the things of the Spirit to be foolishness, and that he not only does not receive, but cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned”k-And, with respect to the knowledge of Christ in particular, our Lord tells us that, as no man knoweth the Father but the Son, so no man knoweth the Son but the Father, and he to whom God shall be pleased to reveal him—The Spirit of God must " take of the things that are Christ's and shew them unto us;" he must open our understandings to understand them;" and unless he “ guide us into all truth” we shall wander in the mazes of ignorance and error to the latest period of our lives, and “perish at last through lack of knowledge”-) We cannot resemble Christ
[We have altogether lost the image of God; nor can we ever recover it by any power of our own_ That image consists in righteousness and true holiness, not the smallest part of which we can obtain without the Spirit-If we would not go on fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, we must walk in the Spirit: if we would mortify the deeds of the body, it must be through the Spirit:" if we would have our trials sanctified, it must be through a supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ:o if we would * wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, it must be through the Spirit”?«There is not any single grace which can be produced by any other means; they are all fruits of the Spirit:9 and as long as any man continues destitute of the Spirit, he must of necessity continue earthly and sensual He, and he alone, can give us either to will or to do any good things-Now is holiness necessary in order that we may resemble Christ; and is every part of holiness, both root and branch, the produce of God's Spirit; and can any one doubt whether it be necessary for us to have the Spirit?--] We cannot enjoy Christ
* 1 Cor. ii. 14.
Rom. viii. 13. 3 Gal. v. 22, 23,
I Matt. xi. 27.
m Gal. y. 16.
[We have not naturally any taste for spiritual enjoyments; we affect the things of time and sense, and those only—Indeed, how is it possible that we should enjoy him whom we do not know? Or how can his love be shed abroad in our hearts but by the Spirit-If any one think he can enjoy Christ by any power of his own, let him only make the experiment; let him retire to his closet for one hour, and say, “I will spend this hour in the enjoyment of Christ; I will delight myself in him with my whole heart;" let him make the attempt, and he shall soon be undeceived by the most convincing of all arguments, his own experience; nor are we afraid to rest the whole argument upon the issue of such a trial-Nor can we enjoy Christ hereafter any more than we can in this world, if we be not prepared for it by the Spirit of God- There is a "meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light” which we must have, before we could find comfort in the presence of our Lord What pleasure could we take in him whom we do not at all resemble? “ What communion could light have with darkness, or Christ with Belial?"u-We find that even now, when our corruptions are so restrained, one single hour is irksome, if spent in spiritual exercises; and we may be sure we cannot bear to be occupied without intermission to all eternity in those duties, for which we have no inclination, yea, from which we are most exceedingly averse--
But let one asseveration of the true and faithful witness stand in lieu of ten thousand arguments; Ye must be born again, says our Lord; and that, not of water only, but of the Spirit; or else ye can never enter into the kingdom of God We shall endeavour to IMPROVE this subject 1. By a general enquiry
[Have we the Spirit; or are we yet destitute of his gracious influences?-Some think this a needless enquiry, and one which cannot be satisfactorily resolved—But can we be " brought out of darkness into marvellous light,” and be " turned from the power of Satan unto God,” without knowing that we have experienced some change?--St. Paul supposes such ignorance to be inconsistent with saving conversion to God: he asks, Know
bodies are the tem
ye not that
Rom. v. 5.
u 2 Cor. vi. 14, !5.
* John iii. 5-7.
ple of the Holy Ghost?”y and again, “ Know ye not how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?". Now here he not only declares that we are reprobates if we have not the Spirit of God, but considers this truth as known and acknowledged by all true Christians-Enquire then, Whether you have been enlightened, renewed and sanctified by the Spirit of God, and whether you are yet daily experiencing his powerful operations?—Let not this matter hang in suspense, lest you be found reprobates and sons of perdition, when you are fancying yourselves saints, and heirs of glory-] 2. By a particular address
[Let those, whose consciences testify that they have not the Spirit, stand convicted and condemned–The text speaks of all such without exception; " if any man,” &c. Let it be rememþered that, however cultivated our minds may be with human literature, and however amiable our natural dispositions, we must have the Spirit of Christ, or we can be none of his—And what a dreadful state is this? for if we be not Christ's, whose are we? It must be said to us, as our Lord said to the Jews, “ Ye are of your Father, the deyil”-And are any of us wil. ling to be disclaimed by Jesus in the day of judgment? Would we that he should then say to us, “ Ye are none of mine!”-If not, let us now seek his good Spirit, and live henceforth under his influence and direction
But let those, who have reason to believe that they have the Spirit, rejoice-They are Christ's: they are his friends; they are the very members of his body; they are "his portion, the lot of his inheritance"-0 happy, happy souls, how highly privileged even now! and how unspeakably blessed in the future world!-Be not afraid then of the scoffs of an ungodly world; let them curse, if God do but bless Improve your present privileges: be careful lest by any means ye grieve the holy Spirit
whereby ye are sealed:” look to him more and more to comfort and transform your souls; and expect with patience that blessed period, when Christ shall acknowledge vou before the assembled universe, and number you among his jewels in the day that he shall count them upa--]
y ! Cor. vi. 19,
z 2 Cor. xiii. 5.
a Mal. iii. 17.
.CCCXCI. THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST.
Matt. xii. 31. I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy
shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
THE sins of men have, in all ages of the world, been the means and occasions of displaying the divine goodness. It is through the fall of the first Adam, and the crucifixion of Christ, the second Adam, that we attain the knowledge of God's mercy, and see how the exercise of it can consist with the rights of justice. The wickedness of the Pharisees, to whom the words of our text were addressed, was exceeding heinous: yet was it an occasion of manifesting the most unbounded compassion of our Lord. He had cast qut a devil, and thereby not only conveyed a rich blessing to the person whom he had healed, but had given an irrefragable .proof of his own divine mission. But the Pharisees, blinded by prejudice, imputed his miracle to a confederacy with the devil. Our Lord, instead of giving them up, as he might have justly done, to judicial blindness and impenitence, condescended meekly to reason with them on the subject, and then affectionately cautioned them against indulging so base a spirit; assuring them, that all which they had said and done against him might be forgiven; but that if they should persist in this conduct towards the Holy Spirit also, and reject his testimony, they would cut themselves off from all possibility of obtaining mercy.
Our Lord's address to them leads us to consider the extent of God's mercy; and shews us I. To what it will not extend
It is of great importance to ascertain what is meant by the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.
[Many have thought that the sin against the Holy Ghost consisted in ascribing the miracles of Jesus to the agency
of Satan. But this opinion is founded on a misconstruction of a passage in St. Mark's Gospel. The Evangelist's observation, “Because they said, he hath an unclean spirit," was not intended to shew what the sin against the Holy Ghost was,
a Mark ii. 30.