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truth, there is not the same hope that those are bound for heaven who believe a lie, as those who believe the truth. We cannot be sanctified through that truth which we do not embrace. Hence it would seem that it must be fatally criminal to reject the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel.
4. If the definitions which I have given of truth be correct, sin ners ought to wish to hear those doctrines which they do not relish, and which fill them with distress, for none else are true. It would be easy to preach so as never to distress or offend impenitent men, but it would not be the gospel, and the preaching would be useless. They would sleep under it till they waked in perdition. They would neither quarrel nor repent. There are such preachers, and the effect of their labors is exactly what we should expect. Their "burden of the Lord" is a mere heathen morality, and the best effect a mere reform of some grosser vice, leaving the moral character unbleached, and the heart unchanged.
But it should be the wish of perishing men to hear another gospel, one that will alarm their fears, cut off their false hopes, arouse their consciences, and renew their hearts. It is pleasant to find that men are pleased, but far more important to find that they are sanctified. And those act a very weak part, who are conscious of impenitence, and yet prefer a gospel that is not truth, and can never point them to heaven.
Finally, the subject will help us to account for the stability of the Christian character. It has its foundation in truth, the same that is the basis of the Divine character, and of the throne itself of God. So the character of angels, and of all holy beings, is built on the truth. Hence a holy character will differ as to its permanency, from the character of the sinner, as much as the truth differs from falsheood. Every Christian principle is some truth of God, every grace some impress of truth upon the heart. Hence we expect the Christian character, and no other, to have permanency, unless that truth could become mutable on which it is founded. Christ styles himself the truth, and is that rock on which his people build their character and their hopes: "Christ in you the hope of glory."
Hence the believer, though "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," has a permanency of character, from the fact, that God sanctifies him through the truth. He grows in grace and in the knowledge of the truth; and to whatever moral stature he attains, truth secures his standing, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a 27
perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Thus it is made certain that the saints shall never fall.
But we do not wonder that those who have no such idea of the permanency of truth, doubt whether the believer will assuredly persevere. Those who suppose him to build his house upon the sand, must fear, lest when the floods come and the winds blow, its foundations be removed, and it fall. But he builds upon a rock, firm as heaven itself, and we shall see him safe, when every other rock, but that which he makes his foundation, is melted down; and when those who have not built on Christ and on truth," shall call upon the rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."
May God bless his truth, to the sanctification of his people; and make them zealous to learn it, and to propagate it. May he give us a high esteem for our Bibles, and Sabbaths and sanctuaries, and a preached gospel, by the aid of which we learn truth. And may he sanctify his ministers, and leave none of them to "depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." And may he through the truth glorify his own name, and prepare a great multitude, that no man can number, to worship about his throne for ever and ever. Amen.
THE CHRISTIAN'S BEST FRIEND AGGRIEVED.
EPHESIANS IV. 30.
Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.
IF I must doubt whether there be a trinity of persons in the Godhead, I should question the inspiration of the Scriptures. The distinct personality of the three that bear record in heaven, seems to me as plain a truth as any other in the whole Bible, and cannot be rejected without the danger of going into infidelity. In the mysterious division of the work of redemption, it became the business of the Holy Ghost, to make the sinner willing, in the day of God's power, to renew and sanctify the heart, and quicken to spiritual life and action, the dead in sin. And after he has begun eternal life in his people, he dwells in their hearts, and is there a well of water springing up to everlasting life.
The Holy Spirit was promised to the apostles under the title of the Comforter, and has exerted his agency in every conversion since there was a Church, and been the guide to heaven of every child of the apostacy, who has gone and took his seat at the marriage supper of the Lamb. If there is in any mind a heavenly thought, or in any heart a holy volition, it is all the work of that Divine agent. Hence his favor is life. One had better grieve every friend he has, and wander homeless, and die deserted, with none to watch him or to pray for him, or bury him, than to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and be abandoned of him.
I have supposed that grieving the Spirit of God, was a deed that none but Christians can do. The enemies of God may resist his Spirit, and may quench his Spirit, but his people only can grieve him. So it is, you know, in human affairs; an enemy may insult us and offend us, a friend it is that grieves us.
It will be my object to show how the people of God may grieve his Spirit, and what the consequences that must follow.
I. How may the people of God grieve his Spirit?
1. When they limit his ability or his willingness to bless them.
The Spirit of God has done so much for them already, that all cause of fear, as to what he can do, and will do, if they are ready, is out of place. It was a great sin in Israel, after they had witnessed the wonders done in Egypt, and has seen the water of the Red Sea divide, to make them a passage, to have any doubt whether he could enable them to subdue the Anakims, and whether he would give them water to drink and flesh to eat.
But that people, when they limited the Holy One of Israel, had not seen more illustrious displays of the might and the mercy of their Deliverer, than have the people of God in these days of the amazing power and grace of the Holy Ghost. He who could subdue your hearts, ye disciples of the Lord Jesus, what can he not do for you? He who could awaken you, when you was purposed in your heart that you would never see the danger you were in ; who could uncover to you the destruction that way-laid you; who could convict you of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come, when you had carefully barred every avenue that would admit the light; could bring out to a Savior's feet, and make you his willing captives; what is there now he cannot do for you? What lust can he not conquer, and what foe of yours can he not bring to the ground and lay low at your feet? How can you doubt a moment of his ability and his mercy, to guide you, and keep you unto everlasting life?
And after the precious instances of revival that you have witnessed, and the power displayed by the Holy Ghost, in subduing to love and obedience the basest of men, and bringing scores of the ungodly to yield to the force of truth, and become willing in the day of God's power; how can you doubt but he can give you other precious revivals, and renew to you the scenes you have witnessed, and more yet? What other proofs can he give but that which he has given, that you have only to be ready and he will do his wonders before your eyes, till you are satisfied? And there is no sinner you pray for but he can be melted and subdued, and moulded over into a humble and devoted and heavenly-minded Christian? And his willingness to operate is commensurate with his ability. If he would help you when you felt that you could not do without him, and give those tokens of his mercy that you felt you must have or die, why will he not do the same again? If you have sinned, and do not deserve his interposing mercy, so you had when he did interpose the last time. When you prayed for that child that he did save, you went to him as a poor sinner, not deserving at all the mercy you asked, and why not expect that the
Spirit of God will as readily operate now as then? Why then should we limit, and thus grieve the Holy One? If such has been the power and the mercy of the Divine operations in days past, that the highest faith is due, and there is,the broadest foundation for confidence that the Spirit will operate as soon as we are ready, why should Christians grieve him by limiting his power and his
2. They grieve him when they expect their comforts from any other source. The people of God often try to be happy without him. There are so many channels through which joy is communicated to the heart, that we are prone to forget its source. We may, by this means, be guilty of an idolatry, though not as gross, yet as offensive to the Spirit of God as the temporary worship of Mammon or Moloch. This is the case when even means of grace are trusted in as sure to communicate comfort. We may idolize the ministry of reconciliation, the Sabbath, the ordinances, the place of prayer, and even the closet. In young converts nothing is more common than the deep assurance, that the same place, the same practice, and the same pew, will produce the same blessedness. And often it is not till after many a sore disappointment, that they are taught to repair immediately to him whose influence is life and peace. God would have us estimate the means, and set a price as high as he has upon every medium of holy joy. But when we forget, as we are prone to forget, that we must go a little beyond the watchman, before we shall find him whom our soul loveth; must pass through the means and there is joy, and there is God, then is the Spirit grieved. His Divine agency is undervalued, and the joy he would communicate is withheld, till we are made to feel that the Spirit of God must operate, or every means must lose its influence.
3. It is equally true that we grieve the Spirit of God, when we neglect the means of grace. There is an established process, by which the Holy Spirit of God ordinarily comforts his people. Almost all his joys, and probably, did we know more fully the way of the Spirit, we should say all his joys, are bestowed as a blessing on the means of grace. Here he exerts his Divine influence. He
lifts the soul toward heaven, when the soul makes an effort to rise in prayer. He pours in truth upon the mind, when the mind is laboring to know the truth. He generates holy affections, when ⚫ he discovers in his people grief for sin, and ardent desires to be more holy. Hence the house of God, rather than any other place, has been the scene of his most frequent and his mightiest opera