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And thus watching and praying, habitually, and devoutly, we shall here live happy, and at rest in the station in which God has placed us, serving Him with a willing mind, and bearing patiently all that He appoints us; ever looking forward to the day of our death calmly, resignedly, nay, even joyfully. For come when it may, after length of lingering illness, or without notice or forewarning," like a thief in the night,” it will not surprise us unawares: strong in the faith of our Redeemer, at His call we shall be ready, and into His hands shall we commend our spirit, in full and fervent hope of that blessed resurrection, which in His good time He will bring to pass in our bodies. For, to the exceeding comfort of all truly humble Christians have these words been spoken-and I would that we might all lay them seriously to heart -God hath not " appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep we shall live together with Him."
Little Hadham, 1847.
THE WORKING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND THE MEANS WHEREBY HE WORKS.
Acts xix. 2.-" Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?"
THE great subject of this day's solemnity is the descent of the Holy Ghost from heaven; on this, the fiftieth day after our Lord's resurrection, and the tenth after His ascension, was that promise fulfilled, with which he had cheered the hearts of His apostles, just before He was taken from them, and received back into glory; the promise that He would send to them the "Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost." On this day was that blessed Spirit revealed: made manifest to the apostles in power, and great majesty, with " a rushing mighty wind," and in the likeness of cloven tongues of fire which
sat upon each of them," as described in the epistle of the morning.
Of that mighty miracle itself, I have already spoken; I endeavoured in my sermon this morning to set before you the real meaning of the Holy Ghost having come, and the purpose for which He was revealed; I reserved for our present consideration, two questions intimately connected with that manifestation, and these I will now proceed to examine, viz.—
I. What is the proof by which we may ascertain, each for himself, whether we have received the Holy Ghost?
And II. What are the sure means for obtaining so desirable, so necessary a blessing?
I say so necessary a blessing, because unless we have received the Holy Ghost, yea, and are continually receiving Him, we can in no sort be fit partakers in the privileges of the Gospel covenant; we are neither rightly called Christians now, nor have we any ground to think that we shall be with Christ hereafter; "Unless a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, He cannot enter into the kingdom of God." "If a man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Thus far we are all agreed, that the influence of the Holy Ghost is necessary to our obtaining salvation: we differ in opinion as to the effect which is produced by His
presence in the soul. Attend then, my brethren, while I submit to you, for your after meditations, some of those clear, and undoubted signs of the Spirit's presence which in the Holy Scriptures, are set down for our learning; as tests, or marks, by which we may discover whether or not we have received the Holy Ghost.
Now the first sign of the Holy Spirit must be sought for in our heart; the heart which is the pulse of our whole life; that from which all we think, or say, or do, has its beginning: that, is especially the seat of the Holy Spirit's influence: there, as was foretold by the prophet Ezekiel, must the exercise of His power chiefly be witnessed. "I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances and do them: and they shall be my people and I will be their God." By "a stony heart," in this description of the Spirit's influence, we understand a heart that is hard; one that does not easily receive any impression; one that renders its possessor indifferent to rebuke or reproof: opposed to this, is "the heart of flesh," the heart that is tender, easily affected by religious truths, quick and alive both to the promises and threatenings of the Gospel. The one is our heart as it is by
nature; the other, the softened and subdued heart, -is that which has undergone the renewing operation of the Holy Ghost. It is He who alone can bring to pass this alteration in us; it is He who changes" the hard rock into the springing well."
Here then is one, and a very principal token by which we may arrive at what we are seeking. By our hearts, my brethren, by the thoughts, and feelings, and motives, which issue from thence, may we judge respecting this most vital question, whether or not we have received the Holy Ghost? And if our heart condemn us not,-if, on impartial search of it, we find that we have a lively sense of God's holy presence, and a continual desire to please Him; if we find that sin, though at times too strong for us, is yet hated, and resisted by our better mind; that we have an ever-growing love of holiness, and an ever-increasing tenderness of conscience; in a word, that our affections are drawn heavenwards, and not centered upon and absorbed in the cares and business of this life; then may we without presumption believe, that we have tasted of the good gifts of God, have received His Holy Spirit; are no longer carnally-minded, (which is a state of death,) but are in very truth alive unto God and if alive unto God, then meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
But to give a second proof, and one by which the