« AnteriorContinuar »
or morality, or religious professions, or religious duties, are sufficient.—All these are far short of this inward spiritual change. You must be born again, or you can never go to heaven. And can you bear the thought of being shut out? Put the question to yourself. “Can I dwell with everlasting burnings? Can I endure eternal darkness? Can I bear to be eternally separated from the blessed God? Is my present sinful, sensual life, to be preferred before eternal joys ? Is there one text in the Bible to give me comfort in this state ?” O that you may be so deeply convinced of the immediate necessity of this change, that you may, ere you sleep this night, fall down on your knees before God, and earnestly desire him to make you a new creature. He can do it in a moment; and he has promised his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. Say not, as foolish people do, I will not change my religion. Let me ask you a question : Has your religion changed you? If not, it is high time to change it. But do not be deceived by appearances, forms, and
True religion is not the business of the lip or the knee, but of the heart. "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink," or outward ceremonies; no : but it is within ; it consists “in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Be advised alsó to read and hear his word, for this is the instrument which God employs in effecting this great change. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
And as for you who have experienced this blessed change, forget not to give the glory to God, and to take the comfort of it to yourselves. Are you born of God? then heaven is yours. The righteousness of Christ is your title to it; but herein is your fitness for it. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God: it follows, therefore, that if he be born again he shall see it. Thank
God for it. You are renewed for this very purpose, that you should show forth his praise. God has made you to differ from the mass of mankind. He has done more for you than if he had made you kings and emperors; for he has made you sons of God and heirs of his glory; "heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.” Often reflect on your former state, and admire the grace that has made the difference. God has given you bis Spirit, and in him a sure earnest of your heavenly inheritance. “He that wrought for you the self-same thing is God.” O, be concerned to live and walk as renewed persons; so shall you prove the reality of the change; adorn the Gospel, edify your neighbour, and glorify God.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
ROMANS VIII. 9.
Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he
is none of his. NOTWITHSTANDING the various distinc
tions which subsist among men, there are but two of any real consequence in the sight of God; and these are mentioned by St. Paul just before our text—"They who are after the flesh, and who mind the things of the flesh; and they who are after the Spirit, and who mind the things of the Spirit,” ver. 5: that is to say, those people who, remaining in the state in which they were born, do habitually consult and relish, pursue and delight in, worldly, sensual, and sinful things; or, on the contrary, those who being born again of the Spirit, are under his guidance and intluence; and therefore pursue, regard, and love, things that are of a spiritual and heavenly nature. Every person here belongs to one of these classes ; and it behoves us seriously to examine to which of them; for on this depends our eternal all. He who is after the flesh “cannot please God,” ver. 8 : but is in a state of death, ver. 6; or, it is in the text, “is none of Christ's:” that is, not a member of his body, not a child in his family, not a subject of his kingdom; and, dying in this state, Christ will not own him for bis, nor adjudge him to eternal life at the great day. But if, by the grace of
God, we have the Holy Spirit, and live under his gracious influences, it is a proof that we belong to Christ, and shall obtain eternal glory with him. How necessary is it then that we should be able to decide with certainty on this great question, and to know whether we belong to Christ or not.
That we may be able to do this, let us pray to God to assist us,
I. Consider who the Spirit of Christ is.
II. Prove that all real Christians have the Spirit of Christ, and show for what purposes; and,
III. Point out the evidence of our state arising from thence.
I. Let us consider who the Spirit of Christ is.
The whole Scripture declares that there is but one only living and true God; buhe Scripture also clearly shows, that in the unity of the Godhead there are three (whom we call persons) ; thus in 1 John, v. 7. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost : and these three are one.” They are generally called by the names, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; which names are not intended to describe their manner of subsistence among themselves, (for that is a branch of knowledge above our capacity, and is not revealed); but the manner of their operations in the covenant of grace. To each of these divine persons particular attributes and works are ascribed, and each of them is expressly called God. The divine person we now speak of is the Holy Spirit; called in the same verse with our text“ the Spirit of God.” That he is properly called a Person appears from the personal properties and works ascribed to him. He is said to have Understanding or Wisdom, I Cor. ii. 10. Isa. ii. 3. He is said to have a Will, 1 Cor. xii. 11. He is possessed of Power. Rom. xv. 13. He is said to teach us, John xiv. 26. 1 John ü. 27. to lead-to guide to convince-to renew-to speak-to show----to call, and send ministers. This plainly proves that he is a Person, and not merely a quality or property of Deity, as some have vainly pretended.
It is equally evident that he is a Divine Person, or truly and properly God, equal with the Father and the Son; for divine perfections are ascribed to him, as Eternity-Omnipresence—or being every where; and Omniscience, or knowing all things. The Holy Spirit is expressly called God. Ananias is said to lie to the Holy Ghost, Acts v. 3; and in the next verse, St. Peter says to him, “ Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” The same person is intended in both verses, which plainly shows that the Holy Ghost is God. This also appears from the sin against the Holy Ghost; if he were not God, would blaspheming him be a sin, an unpardonable sin ? But above all consider the form of baptism. Our Lord commands his apostles to “disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” So likewise in the usual form of benediction : “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you.' In both these
same honours are ascribed to the Spirit as are given to the other divine persons'; which would be blasphemy, if he were not a divine person, or truly and properly God.
He is called in our text the Spirit of Christ, not only because he proceeded from Christ, as well as from the Father; but because he was promised by Christ, and sent by Christ. He was the Spirit of Christ in all the ancient prophets; and he now “ testifies of Christ,”—“takes the things of Christ, and shows them unto us ;' in a word, because the whole salvation of Christ is applied to the heart by his sacred influences. We
e are now, in the second place, to