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tions. Here he has fed his people, has cheered their despondencies, has raised their hopes, has strengthened their faith, has enabled them to mount on wings as eagles, to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint. Here, with a preached gospel, the word of his grace, that truth through which it was the prayer of the Savior that the Father would sanctify his people, he has, in every age, since there was a Christian Church, shed forth his richest, sweetest comforts. Here, too, he has awakened and renewed the sinner; has begun in the heart that eternal life which it is his promise, and his oath, shall be carried on till the day of complete redemption. Here all our precious revivals have begun, and have been carried on, by what has been termed the foolishness of preaching.

And God has greatly blessed the place of prayer and conference. These unnoticed retreats have been, in thousands of instances, the scenes of such Divine display as have made angels glad, and have multiplied the number of the saved. Christians have dated their very best comforts in some of these consecrated retreats. In answer to prayer, every comfort has dropped from heaven. The heart has been warmed in the concert of prayer, beyond almost any other place. Those hours nearest akin to heaven, and the most deeply engraved upon the memory and the heart, to be the subject of everlasting recollection, and of delightful mention in the anthems of heaven, have been those where pious hearts met, and were melted together at the foot of the cross-unless it be those seasons when the soul was alone with God, while there were none to disturb and none to share the sacred joy. Perhaps no comforts can outweigh these. Hence the closet is that most sacred and most lovely place which the believer is the last to quit, where he would live and die. There the heart discloses its most secret concerns, delivers its most confidential message, and waits for forgiveness and for peace, with a hope that takes hold of the horns of the altar with the iron grasp of death.

If, then, God has thus blessed the means of grace, and they are rendered by his appointment so essential to the soul's transformation into the image of God, the Spirit must be grieved when they are neglected. Their neglect develops unbelief, and, what is more, contempt. If the Spirit operate, he must choose his own way. We must throw ourselves within the probable reach of his influence, where he has blest others, and where he has promised to bless us. And not only be there occasionally, but as often as we feel our need of his special influences. David resolved to pray

seven times a day, and Daniel three times in the day, even when he knew that it would be likely to cost him his life. Christians cannot lightly dispense with any means of grace, and not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby they are sealed unto the day of redemption.

4. Christians grieve the Spirit of God when they neglect to make use of the promises. These were given for the comfort of God's covenant people, were indited by the Holy Ghost, and are the principal medium through which he communicates to the heart the richest blessings of his agency. Here the Christian must apply when he needs support, and he will find the promises wonderfully adapted to his circumstances. If he feels himself to be a great sinner, here is a promise of forgiveness; "I will blot out thine iniquities, and remember thy sins no more." If he feels himself to be weak and defenceless, the promise reads, "Fear not thou worm, Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the holy one of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument, having teeth: and thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. One shall slay a thousand, and two shall put ten thousand to flight." If darkness come over his mind, and it ever becomes at length tangible, like the night of Egypt, still the promise reads, "He that walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him trust in the Lord, and stay himself upon his God." If he fears that he may perish amid the dangers that surround him, he may read and be comforted, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flames kindle upon thee." If there come an hour when temptations seem too sharp and frequent for his strength, he can read and feel safe. No temptation has happened to you, but such as is common to men. And God will, with the temptation, make also a way of escape. Now the child of God offends the Divine Comforter, when he does not thus apply in the hour of distress to the promises he inspired.

5. The Spirit of God is grieved when the promises are misapplied. When the promise of forgiveness, for instance, is used before we have repented; when the promise of perseverance is made to comfort a backsliding believer, when anything that God has said engenders a hope of heaven, while the affections are earthly, sensual and grovelling. When the unbeliever takes sanctuary in the mercy of God; and when the Christian hopes to be comforted any

where but on the way of life, there is offered equally an insult to the Spirit of grace. The gracious things said in the book of God are all appropriated in their promulgation. The meek only will he guide in the way and cause to inherit the earth. To the poor in spirit belongs the kingdom of heaven. They that mourn shall be comforted. To those only who keep his covenant and his testimonies, are all the ways of the Lord, righteousness and peace. Those only who trust in the Lord and do good shall inherit the land, and shall verily be fed. Those shall know the Lord who follow on to know him. Those shall find him who seek him with all their heart.

After the same manner are all the promises appropriated, and may neither be neglected nor misapplied. Hence every man who would not grieve the Spirit of God, should make it his first question, What is my character? and his second, What kind thing has God said to me? or his first question, What is my condition? and his second, What promise reaches such a condition? Then, to use the emphatical language of Scripture, the dogs do not eat the children's bread. There are times, I apprehend, when the real believer may not apply to the refreshment of his soul a single promise, but must let the Bible lie by him, as the offending child, faint and hungry, may take no refreshment from his father's table. He must suffer and fast till he is humbled. The promise is ready for him, and God will refresh him with it, when he has brought him to feel that he must die without it. To this spot God delights to bring his people, when they sin. His kindness is thus the more timely and the more welcome.

II. I am next to notice the consequences of grieving the Spirit. These will appear,

1. In the absence of Christian consolations. When we have grieved the Comforter, how can we hope that he will bestow his comforts? When he has brought his blessings to our doors, and we treat him with contempt or neglect, he will leave us to pore over our miseries, and perhaps, to howl upon our beds. How striking a feature is this in the history of God's people, recorded in his word! David grieved the holy Spirit of God, and we hear him complain at the noise of the water-spouts. Deep calleth unto deep. All thy waves and thy billows are gone over my soul. He wet his couch with tears. All his bones were out of joint. God broke him with his tempest. He was made to bear the iniquities of his youth.

And how well has all this accorded with the experience of God's people in all ages since, when they have grieved the Spirit. He withdrew his consolation. They fasted, and prayed, and wept, and God hid, as it were, his face from them. Wearisome nights were .appointed unto them. They looked toward death with gloominess. Toward heaven they cast the fearful glance of abandonment. They clinged to the covenant as a drowning man to the plank floating by him.

2. When the Spirit has been grieved, it appears in the withering of the Christian graces. The Spirit of God is the grand agent, by whose influence every holy affection is nourished. Hence his influence upon the heart compared to the rain, on which nature is dependant for all its beauty, and all its fertility. Let the showers be withholden, and how soon will every field and every garden wither! How soon will the sterility of death cover the face of creation, and the veriest Eden be converted into a desert! How will the plant wither, and the landscape fade, and culture become useless when there no longer falls the timely and refreshing shower! So faith, and love, and hope, all fail, when the Spirit of God has been grieved. There can neither be seen the humility, nor the heavenly-mindedness, nor the spirit of prayer, nor the watchfulness, nor the meekness, nor any of the other graces which stand out to view, when the Spirit of God is operating. The life-giving breeze does not blow upon the garden, causing the spices to flow out. The Christian, when he has grieved away the Spirit of God, becomes, for the time being, merely a decent worldling, rising but one small degree above the man who was never born of God. His lamp, if it may not be said to have gone out, dies away till it casts hardly a ray of light into the darkness of this revolted world.

3. When the Spirit is grieved, one of the effects is the loosening of the bonds of Christian affection. This affection originates in love to Christ; hence, if that love decays, all the affections that depend upon it, suffer a correspondent decay. Christ is the head by which all the limbs are united, and live and act in unison. He is the vine. Amputate the branch from the vine, and it immediately loses its connection with all the other branches. What is the believer to me, when I have no longer any interest in him who is the believer's life? Now if there be not, and this is not pretended, a final abandonment of the covenant, still if covenant engagements are disregarded, and he whose agency is to see the covenant ratified, withholds his influence, why expect any union among those whom it was intended to bind ? Sink the believer down into the 28


the man he once was, and why expect he will wish any other than ungodly men for his associates? The union of God's people to each other will ever bear an exact proportion to the growth and vigor of their piety. Hence, in the absence of the Spirit's sanctifying influence, there decays, with the other graces, love to the brethren, and the ligature is sundered that holds together the family of the the faithful. Hence all the discords, the divisions, and the broils; the hard names and the angry feelings, that have sundered believers.

4. When the Spirit is grieved the Christian becomes a worldling. Losing his heavenly hopes and his celestial comforts, there remain none but earthly hopes and creature comforts. The Christian is not only made to differ from the man of the world at the first, by the agency of the Spirit, but this difference is continued by the same agency. Just like a weight suspended in the air, he sinks the moment he is not supported. The graces which the Spirit generates makes the difference; these suspended and the resemblance returns. Clip the wings of the dove, and what is she but a reptile? She must tread upon earth, and gather her food in the dust. The man is not willing to be destitute of comforts. If he may not eat the bread of heaven, he hankers after the leeks and onions of Egypt. When the first king of Israel found that the Lord did not answer him as aforetime, he sought to the witch of Endor for the guidance he needed. The Lord's people are a miserable set of beings, when the Spirit has departed from them. They will need, to make them happy, all the woldly prosperity they had before, and more yet, and will covet it as eagerly as the man who has never risen with Christ, nor has ever learned to seek those things that are above.

5. When God's people have grieved the Spirit, he ceases to multiply their numbers by the conversion of sinners. He has so honored them as to operate in answer to their prayers. I will be inquired of by the house of Israel to bless them. When Zion travails she brings forth children. God works by means; and when the people of God become backsliders, the means cease, and the work of God is stayed. He thus puts honor upon his people; makes them the instruments of doing him service, and has himself the pleasure of rewarding them. They would be less happy if God had given them no opportunity to labor in his service. Hence, when they have grieved the Holy Spirit of God, and he has withdrawn his influence, and as a sure result, they have lost their relish for his service, he suffers sinners to sleep on and perish. It is considered

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