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confess, what an inspired apostle has long since told us, that "the whole world (by nature) lies in the wicked one;" we are no better than those whom St. Jude calls brute beasts; for we have tempers in us all, by nature, that prove to a demonstralion, that we are earthly, sensual, devilish.
And this will serve as another argument, to prove the reality of the operations of the blessed Spirit on the hearts of believers, against those false professors, who deny there is any such thing as influences of the Holy Spirit, that may be felt. For if they will grant that the devil worketh, and so as to be felt in the hearts of the children of disobedience, (which they must grant, unless they will give an apostle the lie) where is the wonder that the good Spirit should have the same power over those who are truly obedient to the faith of Jesus Christ?
If it be true then, that we are all by nature, since the fall, a mixture of brute and devil, it is evident, that we all must receive the Holy Ghost, ere we can dwell with and enjoy God.
When you read, how the prodigal, in the gospel, was reduced to so low a condition, as to eat husks with swine, and how Nebuchadnezzar was turned out to graze with oxen; I am confident, you pity their unhappy state. And when
hear how Jesus Christ will say, at the last day, to all that are not born again of God, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," do not your hearts shrink within you, with a secret horror ? And if creatures, with only our degree of goodness, cannot bear even the thoughts of dwelling with beasts or devils, to whose nature we are so nearly allied, how do we imagine God, who is infinite goodness and purity itself, can dwell with us, while we are partakers of both their natures? We might as well think to reconcile heaven and hell.
When Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit, he fled and hid himself from God. Why? because he was naked; he was alienated from the life of God, the due punishment of his disobedience. Now we are all by nature naked and void of God, as he was at that time, and consequently, until we are changed, renewed, and clothed with a divine nature again, we must fly from God also.
Hence, then, appears the reasonableness of our being obliged to receive the Spirit of God. It is founded on the doctrine of original sin; and therefore, you will always find, that those who talk against feeling the operations of the Holy Ghost, very rarely, or slightly at least, mention our fall in Adam; no, they refer St. Paul's account of the depravity of unbelievers, only to those of old time. Whereas, it is obvious, on the contrary, that we are all equally included under the guilt and conse
quences of our first parents' sin, even as others; and to use the language of our own church article, “ bring into the world with us, a corruption, which renders us liable to God's wrath, and eternal damnation."
Should I preach to you any other doctrine, I should wrong my own soul ; I should be found a false witness towards God and you; and he that preaches any other doctrine, however dignified and distinguished, shall bear his punishment, whoever he be.
From this plain reason, then, appears the necessity, why we, as well as the first apostles, in this sense, must receive the Spirit of God.
For the great work of sanctification, or making us holy, is particularly referred to the Holy Ghost; therefore, our Lord says, “Unless a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Jesus Christ came down to save us, not only from the guilt, but also from the power of sin. And however often we have repeated our creed, and told God we believe in the Holy Ghost, yet, if we have not believed in him, so as to be really united to Jesus Christ by him, we have no more concord with Jesus Christ than Belial himself.
And now, my brethren, what shall I say more? Tell me, are not many of you offended at what has been said already ? Do not some of you think, though I mean well, yet I have carried the point a little too far? Are not others ready to cry out, if this be true, “who then can be saved ?" Is not this driving people into despair ?
Yes, I ingenuously confess it is; but into what despair? a despair of mercy through Christ? No, God forbid; but a despair of living with God, without receiving the Holy Ghost ! And I would to God, that not only all you that hear me this day, but that the whole world was filled with this despair. Believe me, I have been doing no more than you allow your bodily physicians to do every day: if you have a wound, and are in earnest about a cure, you bid the surgeon probe it to the very bottom; and shall not the physician of your souls be allowed the same freedom? What have I been doing but searching your natural wounds, that I might convince you of your danger, and put you upon applying to Jesus Christ for a remedy? Indeed I have dealt with you as gently as I could; and now I have wounded, I will attempt to heal you. For I was in the
Last place, to exhort you all to come to Jesus Christ by faith, whereby you, even you also, shall receive the Holy Ghost. For this spake he of the Spirit
, which they that believe on him should receive.
This, this is what I long to come to. Hitherto I have been preaching only the law; but behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy. If I have wounded you, be not afraid ; behold I now bring a remedy for all your wounds. Notwithstanding you are sunk into the nature of the beast and devil, yet, if you truly believe on Jesus Christ, you shall receive the quickening Spirit promised in the text, and be restored to the glorious liberties of the sons of God; I say, if you believe on Jesus Christ. “ For by faith we are saved : not of works, lest any one should boast.” . And however some men say, there is a fitness required in the creature, and that we must have a righteousness of our own, before we can lay hold on the righteousness of Christ; yet, if we believe the scripture, salvation is the free gift of God in Christ Jesus our Lord ; and whoever believeth on him with his whole heart, though his soul be as black as hell itself, shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Behold then, I stand up, and cry out in this great day of the feast, “Let every one that thirsteth come unto Jesus Christ and drink. He that believeth on him, out of his belly shall flow (not only streams or rivulets, but whole) rivers of living water." This I speak of the Spirit, which they that believe on Jesus shall certainly receive. For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. He is the way, the truth, the resurrection, and the life ; whosoever believeth on him, though he were dead, yet shall he live." There is no respect of persons with Jesus Christ; high and low, rich and poor, one with another, may come to him with an humble confidence, if they draw near by faith ; from him we all receive grace upon grace; for Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth, and ready to save to the uttermost, all that by a true faith turn unto him. Indeed, the poor generally receive the gospel, and God has chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith. But though not many mighty, not many noble are called; and though it be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, yet, even to you that are rich, do I now freely offer salvation, by Jesus Christ, if you will renounce yourselves, and come to Jesus Christ as poor sinners; I say, as poor sinners; for the poor in spirit are only so blessed as to have a right to the kingdom of God. And Jesus Christ calls none to him, but those who thirst after his righteousness, and feel themselves weary, and heavy laden with the burden of their sins. Jesus Christ justifies the ungodly ; "he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Do not then say you are unworthy: for this is a faithful and true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, “That Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners ;" and if you
are the chief of sinners, if you feel yourselves such, verily Jesus Christ came into the world chiefly to save you. When Joseph was called out of the prison house to Pharaoh's court, we are told that he staid some time to prepare himself; but do you come with all your prison clothes about you; come poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked, as you are, and God'the Father shall receive you with open arms, as was the returning prodigal. He shall cover your nakedness with the best robe of his dear Son's righteousness, shall seal you with the signet of his Spirit, and feed you with the fatted calf
, even with the comforts of the Holy Ghost. O, let there then be joy in heaven over some of you, as believing; let me not go back to my Master, and say, Lord, they will not believe my report. Harden no longer your hearts, but open them wide, and let the king of glory enter in; believe me, I am willing to go to prison or death for you; but I am not willing to go to heaven without you. The love of Jesus Christ constrains me to lift up my voice like a trumpet. My heart is now full; out of the abundance of the love which I have for your precious and immortal souls, my mouth now speaketh; and I could now not only continue my discourse until midnight, but I could speak until I could speak no more. And why should I despair of any? No, I can despair of no one, when I consider Jesus Christ has had mercy on such a wretch as I am; however you may think of yourselves, I know that by nature I am but half a devil and half a beast. The free grace of Christ prevented me; he saw me in my blood, he passed by me, and said unto me, live; and the same grace which was sufficient for me,
is sufficient for you also; behold, the same blessed Spirit is ready to breathe on all your dry bones, if you will believe on Jesus Christ, whom God has sent; indeed, you can never believe on, or serve a better master, one that is more mighty, or more willing to save; I can say, the Lord Christ is gracious, his yoke is easy, his burden exceeding light; after you have served him many years, like the servants under the law, was he willing to discharge you, you would say, we love our Master, and will not go from him. Come then, my guilty brethren, come and believe on the Lord that bought you with his precious blood; look up by faith, and see him whom you have pierced; behold him bleeding, panting, dying? Behold him with arms stretched out to receive you all; cry unto him, as the penitent thief did, Lord, remember us now thou art in thy kingdom, and he shall say to your souls, “Shortly shall you be with me in paradise." For those whom Christ justifies, them he also glorifies, even with that glory which he enjoyed with the Father, before the world began. Do not say, “I have bought a piece
of ground, and must needs go see it; or I have bought a yoke of oxen, and must needs go prove them; or I have married a wife," I am engaged in an eager pursuit after the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, and therefore cannot come. Do not fear having your name cast out as evil, or being accounted a fool for Christ's sake; yet a little while, and you shall shine like the stars in the firmament for ever. Only believe, and Jesus Christ shall be to you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and eternal redemption ; your bodies shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body," and your souls be partakers of all the fullness of God.
Which God, of his infinite mercy, grant, through Jesus Christ; to whom, with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, be ascribed, as iš most due, all power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for ever more. Amen, Amen.
THE ETERNITY OF HELL TORMENTS.
Matthew xxv. 46.
These shall go away into everlasting punishment.
The excellency of the gospel dispensation is greatly evidenced by those sanctions of rewards and punishments, which it offers to the choice of all its hearers, in order to engage them to be obedient to its precepts. For it promises no less than eternal happiness to the good, and denounces no slighter a punishment than everlasting misery against the wicked: on the one hand, “ It is a savor of life unto life;" on the other, “A savor of death unto death.” And though one would imagine the bare mentioning of the former would be sufficient to draw men to their duty, yet ministers in all ages, have found it necessary, frequently to remind their people of the latter, and to set before them the terrors of the Lord, as so many powerful dissuasives from sin.
But whence is it that men are so disingenuous? The reason seems to be this: the premise of eternal happiness is so agreeable to the inclinations and wishes of mankind, that all who call th selves christians, universally and willingly subscribe to the belief of it: but then there is something so shocking in the consideration of eternal torments, and seemingly such an