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that we keep his Commandments? To the same Purpose our Lord speaks in the fifteenth of St. John, comparing himself to a Vine, and bis Father to an Husbandman: I am the Vine, ye are the Branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the fame bringeth forth much Fruits for without me ye can do nothing. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much Fruit, so shall ye
my Disciples. Unbelievers may have many Objections to make against the Operations of the Holy Spirit, which need not affect or disturb the Faith and Hope of a Christian. But when they object to us the Want of Evidence in the Works of Christians, they raise a Difficulty, which every Believer is bound to answer for himself, or to quit his Pretensions to the Hopes and Promises of the Gospel. The Confidence of some, that they have the Spirit of God, though they have nothing but their own Confidence to alledge in Proof of it, is a Conceit, unknown to the Churches of God: The Gospel is a Stranger to it, and it was taught in some other School than that of Christ.
If you would know whether the Spirit of Christ be in you of a truth, you have a plain Rule in the Text to examine yourself
by. The Apostle St. James speaks of two forts of Wisdom, the one earthly, sensual, devilish; the Fruits of which are, Envyings, Strife, Confuson, and every evil Work: The other heavenly, which is pure and peaceable; gentle and easy to be intreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits, without Partiality, without Hypocrisy. It is no hard Matter for a Man to know to which Class he belongs; the Characters are bold, and easily distinguished ; the Difference is so great between Confusion and Peace, Strife and Gentleness, Envy and Mercy, every evil Work and every good Work, that we cannot easily mistake in applying these Marks. Search therefore
your own Hearts, for thence must come the Resolution, whether the Spirit of Christ dwell in you or no. How the Spirit cometh, or how it goeth, we know not. Our Saviour, in his Discourse with Nicodemus, compares the Influence of the Spirit to the blowing of the Wind, Thou hearest the Sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; fo is every one that is born of the Spirit. How the new Birth and Regeneration is performed, He only can tell who performs it ; but the Effects of it
Man they are as discernible as the Noise of the
Winds, though in their Cause and Spring as secret, and altogether as far removed from human Sight.
As the Fruits of the Spirit are the only Evidence we can have of the Spirit, fo the End of giving the Spirit is the producing these good Fruits. San&tification, Regeneration, and all other Terms by which the Operation and Work of the Spirit in Believers are denoted, signify to us that the Spirit is given to redeem us from Sin, and to render us a People acceptable to God, zealous of good Works. And surely it is no finall Commendation of the Gospel, that the Things in it, which seem most mysterious, have the plainest Use, and are introduced to promote such Ends, as must appear to the most prejudiced Mind to be honourable to God, and advantageous to Mankind. We offer
you, upon the Terms of the Gospel, the Gifts of the Holy Ghost: In virtue of this Offer we call you to Holiness and Obedience. What Design or Contrivance have you to suspect? If any thing is to be gained by your being virtuous, the Advantage will be all your own. Nay, suppose that ceived into Goodness, yet for you at least it will be an happy Deceit; and, I think, no
you are de
unhappy one for the rest of the World. Who will suffer by Men's becoming gentle and peaceable? If there were more of this Spirit in the World, it would be a much happier Place than it is: For the Strife and Confufion, and all the Miseries which we fee and hear, have their Rise from that Wisdom which is earthly and sensual.
From what has been said arises this plain Conclusion: That the true Way of judging, whether the Spirit of God be in us, is to consider our own Deeds. Righteousness and Holiness are the only certain Marks of Regeneration. Other Distinctions which Men have invented are rather Marks of their spiritual Pride, and of their Separation from the Body of Christians, than of their Union with Christ the Head. Take heed therefore that you adorn the Faith with a Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, that you may have the Comfort and Consolation of knowing that you have not believed in vain.
MATTHEW v. 48. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father
which is in Heaven is perfect.
RACTICE is the End of all
Precepts and Exhortations : Р
Laws are therefore enacted, that Subjects may obey : Ex
hortations are therefore added, that they may be encouraged to do their Duty. It must then be a very great Absurdity to make any thing, in its own Nature impracticable, the Subject-matter either of Command or Advice. And does not the Text seem liable to this Objection ? Is there any thing which Men have more Reason to think impossible to them, than to arrive at the Perfections of the Deity ? Why then are we VOL. III. X