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rection, therefore believe in him. For many saw our divine Master, who were not saved by him; but whoever has thus felt the power of his resurrection, has the earnest of his inheritance in his heart; he has passed from death to life, and shall never fall into final condemnation.
I am very sensible that this is foolishness to the natural man, as were many such like truths to our Lord's own disciples, when only weak in faith, before he rose again. But when ihese natural men, like them, have fully felt the power of his resurrection, they will then own that this doctrine is from God, and
say with the Samaritans, “Now we believe not because of thy saying," for we ourselves have experienced it in our hearts.
And O that all unbelievers, all letter-learned masters of Israel, who now look upon the doctrine of the power of Christ's resurrection, or our new birth, as an idle tale, and condemn the preachers of it as enthusiasts and madmen, did but thus feel the power of it in their souls, they would no longer ask, how this thing could be? But they would be convinced of it as much as Thomas was, when he saw the Lord's Christ; and like him, when Jesus bid him reach out his hands and thrust them into his side, in a holy confusion they would cry out, "My Lord, and my God!"
But how shall an unbeliever, how shall the formal christian come thus to“ know Christ, and the power of his resurrection?" God, who cannot lie, has told us, “I am the resurrection and the life, whosoever liveth and believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Again, says the apostle, " By faith we are saved, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.”
This, this is the way, walk in it. Believe and you shall live in Christ, and Christ in you; you shall be one with Christ, and Christ one with you. But without this, your outward goodness and professions will avail you nothing.
But then, by this faith we are not to understand a dead speculative faith, a faith in the head; but a living principle wrought in the heart by the powerful operation of the Holy Ghost, a faith that will enable us to overcome the world and forsake all in affection for Jesus Christ. For thus speaks our blessed Master, “Unless a man forsake all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
And so the apostle, in the words immediately following the text, says, “ being made conformable to his death;" thereby implying that we cannot know the power of Christ's resurrection unless we are made conformable to him in his death.
This we have shadowed out by the custom of baptizing by immersion in the primitive church, and (which is also recom
mended by our own) their putting the infants under the water signified their obligation to die unto sin; as their taking them out of the water, signified their rising again to newness of life. To which the apostle plainly alludes, when he says, “we are buried with him in baptism."
If we can reconcile light and darkness, heaven and hell, then we may hope to know the power of Christ's resurrection without dying to ourselves and the world. But till we can do this, we might as well expect that Christ will have concord with Belial.
For there is such a contrariety between the spirit of this world, and the spirit of Jesus Christ, that he who will be at friendship with the one, must be at enmity with the other; “We cannot serve God and mammon."
This may, indeed, seem a hard saying; and many, with the young man in the gospel, may be tempted to go away sorrowful: but wherefore should this offend them ? For what is all that is in the world, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, but vanity and vexation of spirit?
God is love; and therefore, could our own wills, or the world have made us happy, he never would have sent his own dear Son Jesus Christ to die and rise again, to deliver us from the power of them. But because they only torment and cannot satisfy, therefore God bids us renounce them.
Had any one persuaded profane Esau not to lose so glorious a privilege, merely for the sake of gratifying a present corrupt inclination, when he saw him about to sell his birthright for a little red pottage, would not one think that man to have been Esau's friend! And just thus stands the case between God and us. By the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are new born to a heavenly inheritance amongst all them which are sanctified; but our own corrupt wills would tempt us to sell this glorious birthright for the vanities of the world, which, like Esau's red pottage, may please us for a while, but will soon be taken away from us. God knows this, and therefore rather bids us renounce them for a season, than for the short enjoyment of them lose the privilege of that glorious birthright, to which, by knowing the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are entitled.
O the depth of the riches and excellency of christianity ! Well might the great St. Paul count all things but dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of it. Well might he desire so ardently to know Jesus, and the power of his resurrection. For even on this side eternity it raises us above the world, and makes us to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Well might that glorious company of worthies, recorded in the holy scriptures, supported with a deep sense of their heavenly calling, despise the pleasures and profits of this life, and wander about in sheep skins, and goat skins, in dens and caves of the earth, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.
And O that we were all like minded ! that we felt the power of Christ's resurrection as they did! How should we then count all things as dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord! How should we then recover our primitive dignity, trample the earth under our feet, and with our souls be continually gasping after God.
And what hinders but we may be thus minded? Is Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, altered from what he was ? No, he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. And though he is exalted to the right hand of God, yet he is not ashamed to call us brethren. The power of his resurrection is as great now as formerly, and the Holy Spirit, which was assured to us by his resurrection, as ready and able to quicken us who are dead in trespasses and sins, as any saint that ever lived. Let us but cry, and that instantly, to him that is mighty and able to save; let us, in sincerity and truth, without secretly keeping back the least part, renounce ourselves and the world ; then we shall be christians indeed. And though the world may cast us out and separate from our company, yet Jesus Christ will walk with, and abide in us. And at the general resurrection of the last day, when the voice of the archangel and trump of God shall bid the sea and the graves give up their dead, and all nations shall appear before him, then will he confess us before his Father and the holy angels, and we shall receive that invitation which he shall then pronounce to all who love and fear him, “Come, ye blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”
Grant this, O Father, for thy dear Son's sake, Jesus Christ our Lord ; to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be power and glory, for ever, Amen.
THE INDWELLING OF THE SPIRIT, THE COMMON PRIVILEGE
OF ALL BELIEVERS.
John, vii. 37, 38, 39.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood, and cried,
saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.
Nothing has rendered the cross of Christ of less effect; nothing has been a greater stumbling block and rock of offense to weak minds, than a supposition, now current among us, that most of what is contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ
, was designed only for our Lord's first and immediate followers, and consequently calculated but for one or two hundred years. Accordingly, many now read the life, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the same manner as Cæsar's Commentaries, or the conquests of Alexander are read: as things rather intended to afford matter for speculation, than to be acted over again in and by us.
As this is true of the doctrines of the gospel in general, so it is of the operation of God's Spirit upon the hearts of believers in particular; for we no sooner mention the necessity of our receiving the Holy Ghost in these last days, as well as formerly, but we are looked upon by some, as enthusiasts and mad men; and by others, represented as willfully deceiving the people, and undermining the established constitution of the church.
Judge ye then, whether it is not high time for the true ministers of Jesus Christ, who have been made partakers of this heavenly gift, to lift up their voices like a trumpet ; and if they would not have those souls perish, for which the Lord Jesus has shed his precious blood, to declare with all boldness, that the Holy Spirit is the common privilege and portion of all believers in all ages; and that we, as well as the first christians, must receive the Holy Ghost, before we can truly be called the children of God.
For this reason, (and also that I might answer the design of our church in appointing the present festival*) I have chosen the words of the text.
They were spoken by Jesus Christ, when he was at the feast of Tabernacles. Our Lord attended on the temple-service in general, and the festivals of the Jewish church in particular. The festival at which he was now present, was that of the feast of Tabernacles, which the Jews observed, according to God's appointment, in commemoration of their living in tents. At the last day of his feast, it was customary for many pious people to fetch water from a certain place, and bring it on their heads, singing this anthem out of Isaiah, “ And with joy shall they draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Our Lord Jesus observing this, and it being his constant practice to spiritualize every thing he met with, cries out, “If any man thirst let him come unto me (rather than unto that well) and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath spoken, (where it is said, God will make water to spring out of a dry rock, and such like) out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." And that we might know what our Savior meant by this living water, the evangelist immediately adds, “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive."
These last words I shall chiefly insist on in the ensuing discourse. And,
First, I shall briefly show, what is meant by the word Spirit.
Secondly, That this Spirit is the common privilege of all believers.
Thirdly, I shall show the reason on which this doctrine is founded. And,
Lastly, Conclude with a general exhortation to believe on Jesus Christ, whereby alone we can receive this Spirit.
First, I am to show what is meant by the word Spirit.
By the Spirit, is evidently to be understood the Holy Ghost, the third person in the ever-blessed Trinity, consubstantial and co-eternal with the Father and the Son, proceeding from, yet equal to them both. For, to use the words of our church in this day's office, that which we believe of the glory of the Father, the same we believe of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or inequality.
Thus, says St. John, in his first epistle, chap. v. verse 7. “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one." And our Lord, when he gave his apostles commission to go and teach all nations, commanded them to baptize in the name of the Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father and the Son. And St. Peter, Acts v.3. said to Ananias, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost ?" and verse 4, he says, “ Thou hast not lied unto men but unto God.” From all which pas