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In like manner, almost all the excuses, which ill-mind. ed Christians employ, to keep themselves easy in their sins, are done away with, when it is once known, that the Holy Spirit is among us; as we are taught by his wonderful descent upon the apostles as on this day.

We cannot now lay upon our corrupt nature the blame of what we do amiss; since, however bad that may be, God himself is at hand to cure it, if we will apply to him.

We cannot say, it was all bad example ; since here we are assured of the assistance of the Holy Ghost, to turn our thoughts from the base and evil things we see around us, to the pure and blessed conversation of good men in times past, or of angels in heaven.

We cannot say, it was too much to expect from weak mortals, that they should sist the enticing customs of the world, when we consider what power and support it is, which we have given us to lean on- -the power and support of the Spirit of God, God himself.

In short, when once a man believes, after a Christian manner, in the Holy Ghost-believes that he, however poor and mean, is yet, as a Christian, the temple of God, and has the Spirit of God dwelling in him from that time all excuses for sin are taken away, and it becomes indeed, as St. Paul calls it, most exceeding sinful. It becomes like the rebellion of those Jews, who cried out against God and Moses, while the cloud was overshad. owing the tabernacle in their sight-or like the sin of Balaam, who went on in his covetousness—when he saw the angel of the Lord with his sword drawn in his hand.

If people will disobey God wilfully under such circumstances, we have great reason to believe they would disobey him in heaven itself, as the devil and his angels did ; and therefore they can no more reasonably expect to come to heaven, than the fallen angels can expect to return thither.

Such is the awful, but most true notion, which the church to-day would teach to every Christian, concern. ing wilful sin and forgetfulness of God, when found in

any soul that has been baptized, and that has received, of course, the grace of the Holy Ghost.

It is no wonder, then, that the devil should always have done his best to root this doctrine out of the minds of God's people ; to make them forget, if possible, that the Spirit of God dwelleth in them. And sad experience shows that it is but too possible, nay, easy for him, to keep such thoughts out of men's minds, that they may the more freely indulge themselves in their sins.

For can any one think, that such sort of Christians, as one commonly sees in the world, have really any serious consideration of God's Holy Spirit, as dwelling in them, and being in them? They could not be so easy in their secret sins-could not so composedly go about to defile themselves with all sorts of base pleasures, if they really laid this truth to heart ;—that they are doing all this, not only in sight of their God, but, while he is, as it were, speaking to them expressly, and coming close to them, to hinder them from such sins.

It is, therefore, the purpose of our adversary, the devil, to prevail upon us either to neglect this truth altogether, or to think of it amiss : as though the gift of the Spirit were partial, and as if (though he may have come to some Christians in this particular way) he had not come to us; in which case, we persuade ourselves, we have less to answer for.

This being the purpose of satan, our purpose of course, must be just the contrary, if we would save our souls. We must hold fast the doctrine of the catechism. We must believe in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifies us and all the elect people of God, all Christians whatever ; and believing, we must do all our best, that we receive not the grace of God, his last and greatest favor, in vain.




Psalm cxix. 55, 56. "I thought upon thy name, O Lord, in the night-season and have kept

thy law: this I had, because I kept thy commandments."

We know, by more than one expression of our divine Lord and Master, that there is a sort of character, which, though it cannot entitle men to receive the gospel, yet prepares and fits them for it. No man can possibly deserve so great a mercy: but some by God's grace are worthier to have it than others are. So Jesus Christ himself teaches, where he says,

that “no man having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” As much as to say, that the temper or mind which disposes men to be content with mere beginnings and good intentions, will never agree with the resolute self-denying spirit, which they had need have in them, who mean in earnest to take up their cross and follow Christ. Upon which it would seem to follow that the opposite disposition—the mind which urges men to be constant, steady, persevering-does on the contrary tend to make a man fit for the kingdom of God.

To the same purpose is the well-known and most gracious declaration concerning little children, “ of such is the kingdom of heaven:" it is prepared especially for trusting, affectionate minds; for those who cling fondly to their friends and parents, and love in everything to resign themselves up to them, instead of pretending to choose in all things for themselves : to such the gospel


of Christ is especially suited, and they in a manner are suited to it.

By these two instances (to mention no more at present), we learn this lesson concerning the heavenly gift, in acknowledgment whereof this holy season is appointedthe indwelling of the Holy Comforter in the souls and bodies of believers, which is sometimes called the kingdom of God :-concerning this best gift, I say, we learn from such sayings as have been now mentioned, that although the grace and mercy of the Holy Ghost is indeed free, all-powerful, sovereign—"blowing” as Lord said, “where it listeth”--there is yet a certain frame and temper, certain habits of conduct and behavior, a certain disposition and preparation of heart and mind, which is likely, if not sure, wherever it is found, to draw down God's farther blessing on him who has it. It is itself the good gift of God; and it prepares the way for other and better gifts.

There are sundry examples of God's dealing with his people of old, which tend to confirm this account of our Lord's meaning. Abraham pleased God, by following at once the voice which called him to leave his own country; and God rewarded him, by giving him grace to be willing, if need were, to sacrifice his son in obedience to the same voice.

Moses showed a loyal and devout spirit, refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and boldly interfering when he saw God's people oppressed : and God rewarded him by making him their great prophet and leader out of Egypt.

Samuel showed himself a considerate and dutiful child, and God called him to bear the burden and the strife of the people of Israel, in very trying times. David, as a youth, was remarkable for courageous trust in the Most High, for kindness and generosity toward men, for boldness and fervent zeal in doing the duty of his calling; and he came to an exceeding height of thankful devotion, so that his psalms are the church's treasure of praise, and he is himself known constantly by the name, “ the man after God's own heart.”

And perhaps it might be truly said, that the verse which I just now read to you out of the 19th psalm, contains in it the rule or principle (as one should call it, speaking as a man) whereby God vouchsafes to order, as it were, his own doings, in encouraging generally the faint beginnings of goodness. “I thought upon thy name, O Lord, in the night-season, and have kept thy law. This I had, because I kept thy commandments.” Keeping the commandments, as has been well said by a wise and pious bishop of our church, is rewarded by keeping the commandments. Because the Psalmist had so much piety in him, as in a general way, all day long, to do what he knew was God's will; therefore God gave him, as Job says, “ songs in the night.” He poured into his heart grace to think on his name, to be full of holy meditations, in the night-season, when few can any how serve him. He enabled him to keep his law, during the hours which seemed most unlikely to have allowed a chance of such a sacrifice. Thus the Psalmist went from strength to strength: and thus in all the saints of God, a lower degree of grace and obedience, faithfully improved, is constantly

rewarded by a higher one. Now this rule and law of God's working is wonderfully illustrated by the manner in which the gospel was first made known to the Gentiles, and the door of the kingdom of heaven thrown open, by the extension of the gift of the Holy Ghost to them also. This we read in the history of Cornelius, part of which is the epistle for this day. No one, with ever so little thought, can help perceiving what great encouragement that history gives to all endeavors to be good, be they but sincere, however faint and imperfect. With this view one may gather, as it were, into one, the several particulars related of him : the many disadvantages under which he served God; the sort of service which he rendered ; how he was employed at the very time the gracious offer was first made him; how he improved that offer; with what special favors, one after another, it pleased God to crown more and more his faith and devotion,

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