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for the fake of the precbns blood of Christ, who was a Lamb without blemish and without spot. The words being thus shortly explained, the argument contained in them seems to be this.
That God, cf his free and fovereign grace, is, by liis Holy Spirk, the fo!e agent who inclines us to that which is good, and enables.us to perform it.
In dikourling from this observation, we propose, by Divine assistance, First, To establish the truth of the doctrine, or Ihow you the abfolute necessity of divine influence, in order to the production of any good thing in the foul. We shall, Secondly. Endeavour to give fome account of the Spirit's operation, or show in what manner He works in true Christians, to will aud to do. We shall, 'thirdly, Oi&r fome reflections lor illustrating the reafon in the text, " Of his own "good pleasure:" And, Lastly, Conclude with a sew inserences.
I. We propose, first, to establish the truth of the doctrine, or show you the abfolute necessity of Divine influence, in order to the production of any good •thing in the foul. Now this will appear if we consider,
i. The weakness and degeneracy of human nature. To this degeneracy scripture gives ample testimony: and indeed, to be convinced of it, we need only turn our attention to what passes in our minds, and consider the motions of our own hearts, or look abroad through the world, and observe the conduct of mankind. Have we not all of us experienced from our earliest years, from the very sirst openings of reafon, a violent aversion to every thing spiritually good, and a propensity equally violent to what conscience itself informs us is wrong? 'Have we not daily prooss of this corruption, from the impiety and wickedness which prevail around us? Our understandings are sull of darkness) we know not the road to happiness, nor can we sind
it it out without fome superior guide. And if at artytime we come to the knowledge of our duty, by reason, or by revelation, yet how strangely are our hearts perverted! We are not only difaffected to God and goodness, but strongly biassed to folly and vice. What an affecting sense had-the apostle Paul of this!" I * sind," fays he, " a law in my members, warring a— "gainst the lawof my mind, and bringing me intocap"tivity to the law of sin (//}:" Which made him utter that lively and pathetic complaint, in the following verse; "O, wretched man that I am, who shall "deliver me from the body of this death?" But if,hi addition to this natural inability, we have wilsully .contracted vicious habits, if we have brought ourselves under the tyranny of those imperious masters, and areled captive by them at their pleasure; we are effectually in subjection and setters, enslaved to our lusts, and fold under sin: like the centurion's servant in the gospel, when they fay, Go, we must go; when they fay,. Come, we must come ; when they fay, Do this, we must obey and do it. Now, can we possibly imagine, that, in those unhappy circumstances, we can deliver ourselves from the bondage of corruption, and restore our fouls to a state of light and liberty? Can we, by the feeble remains of our natural powers, change our own Hearts, subdue our lusts and passions, and. make ourselves new creatures? Surely no: it is asimpossible for men in this deplorable situation to perform any thing spiritually good, as it is to restore youth to age, or give lise to the dead: for, in thestrong language of the prophet, the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots.
2. The necessity of Divine influence, in order to the production of true religion in the foul, will farther appear, if we consider the greatness and excellencyof the work itself.
It is a work indeed every way worthy of God, aglorious effect of his Divine power and grace, which 2- C 3 none
(a) Rom. vii. 33.
none but God himself can accomplish. To form religion in the heart, is to raise a dead sinner to lise, to make light arise in the midst of darkness, and to reduce the greatest consusion to harmony and order: and what can be sufficient for this, but the singer of God? God alone is the author of nature; he at sirst commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and formed every part of this visible world. His goodness and mercy are the fource and fountain of every blessing. All the faculties of our minds, and every improvement we make in knowledge and wisdom, are folely derived from him. Now, is his influence necessary in these less important matters, and do we not much more depend upon him for things of greater confe' quence? Is all that knowledge we have acquired in the concerns of this lise, to be ascribed to his teaching and influence; and ought not the enlightening of our darkened minds, and inspiring us with heavenly wisdom, much more be ascribed to him? Did it require Almighty power to create a world; nay, to produce the meanest insect on the face os the earth? And must it not require an equal degree of power to transform the human mind, and to quicken it when dead in trespasses and sins? No less power than that which is Divine, can produce this effect: none can bring a clean thing out of an unclean, but God himself; his grace alone can turn men from darkness to light, and from the gower of Satan to God.
3. This will still farther appear, if we consider what powersul opposition is raised against this work, by our spiritual enemies. No fooner docs the soul begin to be awakened, than it is attacked by a host of adverfaries. Satan, the prince of darkness, whose power is still very great, exerts himself with the utmost vigour, to prevent rru falvation of sinners. He is a malicious and an active enemy; who employs every art, and watches every opportunity, to render usx like himself, completely wicked.. A present degenerate generate world around us, is another source of the keenest opposition. Its glittering pleasures are apt to ensnare the mind, and to draw off the affections to the pursuit of vanity, while, on the other hand, religion is the object of scorn and contempt; it is reviled by some, insulted by others, and too frequently betrayed in the house of its friends. But, beiides all these, there is a treacherous party within, even the lusts of our own hearts, concerning which, it may justly be said, that a man's enemies are those of his own household; these are our worst and most .dangerous enemies, which ly in our bosom, and betray us into misery and ruin. So that we are not only weak and helpless in ourselves, but we are strongly assaulted by powersul enemies; we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, with spiritual wickednesses in high places. Now, to produce religion in the soul, in the midst of such violent opposition, must evidently require a divine agency. And surely the Christian, when thus recovered by the grace of God, has reason to say with Israel of old, " If it had not been the Lord who "was on our side, when our enemies rose up against "us, then they had swallowed us up quick; the "waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone "over our soul."
Thus, then, it plainly appears, that Divine grace is absolutely necessary in order to our conversion, and progress in holiness. But, to put this matter beyond all question, let us,- y
4. Attend to the many express declarations In scripture, and we will sind, that this gracious change in the soul, and every degree of sanctisication, is constantly ascribed to the Holy Spirit. To this effect is that general declaration of the apostle James •, "E"very good and every persect gift is from above, "and cometh down from the Father of lights (a) -."
(u) James i. 17-.
not only every temporal blessing, but likewise ever; pious disposition, every motion in the divine lise. God himself expressly promises to give the sirst principles of religious obedience by means of the Hoif Spirit. "A new heart," says he, " will I give yon, "and a new spirit will I put within you: L will take "away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will "give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my "Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my "statutes; and ye shall keep my judgments, and io "them (&)." Agreeable to which, this gracious change, when it is accomplished, is expressly ascribe! to the Holy Spirit: " Not by works of righteous"ness," says Paul, " which we have done, but ac"cording to his mercy, he saved us, by the wasting "of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghoft, *.* which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus "Christ our Saviour (c)." In a word, there is nothing more plainly taught in the sacred writing;, than the necessity of Divine influence, in order to the rise and progress of religion in the foul. Attend only to that solemn declaration of our blessed Lori; "Verily, verily, iTay unto you, Except a man be "born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter "into the kingdom of God («)." And, in another place, " No man," says he, " can come unto me, *c except the Father which hath sent me dr» "him (h)." From these observations it is evident, that, if we attend to the language of scripture, aw in our hearts believe the word of God„ we must acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is the sole agent «*l works in true Christians both to will and to do.—TMc proposed, *
II. To give some account of the Spirit's operation,
or, endeavour to show in what manner he works ffl
Christians to will and to do. m
(i) Ezck. xxxvi. 36, ty. (c) Tit. iii- S>6
(') John »>• S- \t) John Ti. 4*