Page images

guilty, and giving himself a ran. be grieved; but the spirit of man som - dying for their sins and and his deportment are often such rising again for their justification as the Holy Spirit must disapprove, and being ascended again to glory, and consequently be led to act there ever living to make interces towards him, as men often do sion for all who come unto God towards one another when grieved by him. The Holy Spirit by at their conduct that is, Keep at means of those glorious facts which a distance, withhold their aid, and he enabled the apostles to record, forbear to communicate good to operatés upon the mind of sinners them. The Holy Spirit in this -by means of the sacred word sense is grieved when the precious convinces them of sin-shews their truths dictated by Him are opposabsolute need of Christ-discovers ed, slighted or neglected—when his suitableness and excellencies as his intluence is denied-when those a Saviour; and disposes the mind evils in temper and conduct are to receive Him, to live upon Him, indulged which are condemned in to forsake every other ground of scripture—when the dispositions hope before God, and to abide in so strongly inculcated upon ChrisChrist as its all. Hence it is said, tians are not sought-above all, “When the Comforter is come, when the truth is knowingly and whom I will send unto you from maliciously opposed, and the the Father, even the Spirit of truth, mighty works of the Spirit are aswhich proceedeth from the Father, cribed to the wicked one. he shall testify of me.” John xv. If then the Holy Spirit be pos. 26. “ He shall glorify me; for sessed of true and essential Deity, He shall receive of mine, and shall and really is the Holy, the Eternal shew it unto you.” ch. xvi. 14. It Spirit of God, -that glorious agent is through the powerful influence who, by means of the word of of the Holy Spirit that any sinner truth leads singers to Christ-prois led to understand the divine duces a real union of spirit with testimony, and, believing on the the Lord-maintains, through faith Lord Jesus Christ, is regenerated, in the Son of God, the life of our quickened, sealed or marked as souls--and by means of the divine the Lord's own property; in short word opens to our minds the everthat he is raised from a death in lasting love and mercy of the sin to a new life of holiness. It Father extending to our full salvais by the continued influence of the tion and eternal happiness; how Holy Spirit, that our union with earnestly and constantly should we Christ, our continued dependance implore the Father, through the on Him, and all our fruitfulness in mediation of his beloved Son, for the ways of God are promoted. So the continual influences of the the apostle prayed for his Chris Holy Spirit! And how abundant tian brethren at Ephesus, " that are our encouragements to this; the Father of our Lord Jesus “ Ask and it shall be given you; Christ, would grant them, accord. seek and ye shall find ; knock and ing to the riches of his glory, to it shall be opened unto you: for be strengthened with might by his every one that asketh receiveth; Spirit in the inner man; that and he that seeketh findeth; and Christ might dwell in their hearts to him that knocketh, it shall be by faith,&c.” ch.iii. 14–19. Hence opened. If a son shall ask bread arises the injunction in our text, of any of you that is a Father, “ Grieve not the Holy Spirit of will be give him a stone ? or if he God, whereby ye are sealed to the ask a fish, will he for a fish give day of redemption.” Strictly him a serpent? or if he shall ask speaking, the Spirit of God cannot

an egg, will he offer him a scor


ways; And in their abomination their soul de

pion ? If ye then being evil, know temples made with hands, ver. 1. how to give good gifts unto your thereby intimating that He would children, how much more shall forsake it as He did the tabernacle your hearenly Father give the of Shiloh, Ps. lxxviii. 60. it not Holy Spirit to them that ask being a suitable residence for Him; him 2" Luke xi. 9-13. Remem- and as to their sacrifices, he deber, however, that all acceptable clares that their pride and proprayer must be offered in faith, faneness rendered them altogether James i. 5, 6. and oh ! how watch abominable to Him, ver. 3. ful should we be, lest by any “ He that slayeth an ox, killeth a man; erroneous sentiments--lest by the That sacrificeth a lamb, beheadeth a dog;.'

That maketh an oblation, [offereth) swine's indulgence of sinful tempers and propensities, and by the known Yea, they themselves have chosen their own

, neglect of divine ordinances or commands, we should grieve the

lighteth.* Holy Spirit; and, finally; with all

Bishop Lowth's Translation. readiness of mind let us ascribe These are instances of wickedthe glory of all divine communica- ness joined with hypocrisy; of the tions and enjoyments, and our full, most flagitious crimes committed complete, and eternal salvation, to by those who at the same time the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, affected great strictness in the perto whom be glory for ever. Amen. formance of all the external ser

vices of religion. The prophet DIVINE CONSOLATION PRO- Ezekiel upbraids the Jews with MISED TO THE POOR IN SPIRIT. similar practices : .“ To this man will I look, even to

had slain their children to their him that is of a poor and contrite spirit idols, then they came the same and that trembleth at my word.” day into God's sanctuary to proIsaiah lxvi. 2.

fane it.” Ezek. xxiii. 37, 38. Of If we attend to the particular the same kind was the hypocrisy scope and design of this chapter, of the Pharisees in our Saviour's it will appear pretty obvious that time: “they devoured widows the Lord is here reproving the houses, and for a pretence made hypocrisy and carnality of the long prayers.” Matt. xxiii. 14. But Jews, who valued themselves much while the Lord declares his rejec. upon their Temple as the place of tion of both them and their serGod's residence, and the routine vices, he points out the character of pompous services performed in that is acceptable unto Himit,-the ceremonial worship of the “ but to this man will I look, even earthly Sanctuary; by means of to him that is poor and of a conwhich they vainly expected to trite spirit, and that trembleth at insure to themselves his approba- my word.” tion and favour, while they neg. Some persons apply this text to lected the weightier matters of the Christ, as being the antitype of the law, and were full of pride, hypo- Temple, and the only Sacrifice in crisy, cruelty and injustice. On which God is well-pleased. But this account they are admonished, though this be a truth in itself, it that the Most High dwelleth not in does not appear to be the sense

• When they

* It appears a very just observation which Bishop Lowth makes on this verse, that the generality of interpreters, (and the translators of our English Bible, in particular,] by departing from the literal rendering of the text (and throwing in their supplements) have totally lost the true sense of it, and have substituted in its place what makes no sense at all: for it is not easy to shew, how, in any circumstances, sacrifice and murder, the presenting of legal offerings and idolatrous worship, can pos sibly be of the same account in the sight of God. See Lowth in loco.

and scope of the passage. There with a contrite spirit, or a heart is a parallel text in this same pro- broken on account of sin. This is phecy, ch. Ivii. 15. “I dwell in mentioned Is. lvii. 15, “I dwell the high and holy place; with him with him that is of a contrite and also that is of a humble and con- humble spirit.” The same thing is trite spirit, to revive the spirit of expressed in Ps. xxxiv. 18, “The the humble, and to revive the heart Lord is nigh unto them that are of of the contrite ones :" which is a a broken heart; and saveth such description of the people of God, as be of a contrite spirit.” Again, as is evident from their being ex- Ps. li. 17. “ The sacrifices of God Jiressed in the plural number. are a broken spirit: a broken and With a view to a further illustra- a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt tion of the words, we shall, there-not despise.” It is the genuine fore, consider–The description character of a real Christian to be here given of God's real children contrite in spirit, and this not only - What is included in the promise upon the commission of some parmade to them-and conclude the ticular sins which may have woundwhole with some general observa- ed his conscience; but he is so tions on the subject by way of habitually, from a sense of the cor. practical improvement.

ruption of his nature; bis daily 1. The real saint is here cha- imperfections and disconformity to racterised as being poor and of a Christ, which cause him to groan contrite spirit. Our blessed Lord for deliverance from the body of gives a similar description of his death. Nor is this contrite spirit true disciples, and pronounces such at all inconsistent with the knowto be blessed, Matt. v. 3. “Bless-ledge of forgiveness on the coned are the poor in spirit, for theirs. trary, it well consists with it. Mary is the kingdom of heaven.” Poverty was possessed of a truly contrite of spirit is the sanie with humility; spirit, while her heart overflowed for in the parallel place it is termed with gratitude for pardoning mercy.

a humble and contrite spirit,” Luke vii. 36–50. Is. Ivii. 15, and is the opposite of 3. Another feature in the chathat pride and self-righteousness racter of the true Christian is, that which distinguished the Pharisees, he trembles at God's word. We and of all liigh-mindedness what- find this expression twice occurring ever be the grounds of it. This in the book of Ezra, viz. ch. ix. 4. poverty of spirit takes its rise“ Then were assenabled unto me from, and is niaintained by, a every one that trembled at the suitable apprehension and deep words of the God of Israel:" and impression of the character and again ch. x. 3. "Now therefore let perfections of the divine Majesty- uş make a covenant with our God Of our own insignificance and vile to put away all the wives, and such ness in his sight-Our guilty and as are born of them, according to helpless state by nature-And of the counsel of my Lord, and of our absolute dependance for all those that tremble at the commandour salyation, on his sovereign free ment of our God, and let it be grace, and undeserved mercy, done according to the law.” This through the merits of his Son Jesus trembling denotes the utmost reveChrist. In short, to be poor in rence, respect, and awe of 'whatspirit, is to be emptied of all our ever God hạth revealed in bis self-importance and self-sufficien- word, either as matter of faith or ty; and to be entirely reduced to duty: receiving it as the word of the ground of hope which God the Divine Majesty speaking to hath revealed in the gospel.

mortals from heaven; impressed 2. This poverty is connected with the fullest conviction of its



importance in relation to our eter. known the latter. “ I account all nal state, and afraid of the conse- thy precepts,” says the Psalmist, sequences of transgressing, cor- concerning all things to be right, rupting, wresting, or evading its therefore I hate every false way." plain import in any way whatsoever, -" Then shall I not be ashamed, or from any sinister consideration; when I have respect unto all thy but maintaining a tender and con- commandments.” scientious regard to all his com- 4. Consider now the promise made mandments, without seeking to re to such persons. " To this man will lax them or even wishing so to do. I look”—which implies, in general,

This is a branch of the Christian that the Lord will look upon such character to which so little regard in mercy; that He will be gracious is paid in the present day, even unto them and deliver them. This among the most flaming professors, is evidently the sense of the exthat the consideration of it ought pression in several prayers recorded not to be hastily dismissed. When in scripture. Thus for instance

find of the first renown for | Moses directs the worshippers of piety and zeal in the cause of reli- old to pray: Look down from gion, speaking contemptuously of thy holy habitation, from heaven, any branch of revealed duty; per- and bless thy people Israel, &c.” haps reviling those who pay a con- Deut. xxvi. 15. So the Psalmist; scientious regard to all things “ Return we beseech thee, O God whatsoever Christ has enjoined of Hosts ; Look down from heaupon his disciples, whether it be ven, and behold and visit this in express precept or approved vine, &c.” Ps. Ixxx. 14. Isaiah example ;-when we see such indi- also, Look down from heaven, viduals manifesting the most pre- and behold the habitation of thy judiced state of mind towards the holiness and of thy glory, &c.” ch. ancient institutions of the kingdom Ixiii. 15. But it also signifies to of heaven, and to evade their ob- regard with approbation, comligation labouring to pervert the placency and acceptance. Hence plain import of the New Testa- David says The righteous Lord ment scriptures; how is it possible loveth righteousness, his countefor us to reconcile such a line of nance doth behold the upright.” conduct with the Christian cha- Ps. xi. 7. It also imports that He racter as delineated in the passage will manifest his special favour to under consideration. The utmost such: “ The Lord is nigh to them stretch of candour, or what some that are of a broken heart, and denominate charity will not enable saveth such as be of a contrite us to do it. Our Lord has left us spirit.” Ps. xxxiv. 18. But this this explicit rule by which to judge prontise is more fully expressed in of his true disciples: “ He that is the parallel passage Is. Ivii. 15. “I of God, heareth God's words.” dwell with him also that is of a Jobn viii. 47.

They hear God contrite and bumble spirit, to respeaking to them in his threatenings vive the spirit of the humble and no less than in his promises; in to revive the heart of the contrite his laws, institutions and com- ones.” This

This “dwelling," implies mands as well as in his declarations in it, that God will manifest himof

mercy and good-will to the chil. self unto them, particularly in his dren of men, and the professor, love and grace, even

as Christ however distinguished by the voice promises to such as have his comof popular applause, who has no mandments and keep them, John ear to give to the former, is only xiv. 21, It further imports his deceiving his own soul, if lie delightful and refreshing presence imagine that he has ever savingly in the midst of his churches, while they walk in the fear of the Lord | There is a peculiar suitableness in and keep his sayings, Matt. xviii. the humble and contrite spirit for 20. His intimate correspondence receiving the comforts of the gosand fellowship with them: “ My pel. Indeed none but such are Father," said the Saviour,“ will capable of receiving them. A worldlove him, and we will come unto ly spirit can have no true relish for him, and make our abode with them, because they are not the obhim.” John xiv. 23. See also Rev. jects of its desire. A proud, uniii. 20. 2 Cor. vi. 16. 1 John i. 3. subdued, self-righteous spirit canThus it is that He dwells with such not receive them, because it sees as tremble at his word, in a way of no need of them. They can only consolation, “ to revive the spirit be esteemed, relished, and enjoyed of the humble, and to revive the by the humble and contrite spirit

, heart of the contrite ones.”

and to such they are promised. Having thus briefly illustrated 3. The poor and contrite spirit the character of God's real chil.- alone corresponds with the design dren, as described in the passage of the gospel plan of salvation, the before us, and also shewn what is leading object of which is to humincluded in the promised blessing, ble the pride of the human heart it only remains to offer a few gene- and to exalt the sovereign, free ral observations on the subject by grace of God in the salvation of way of practical improvement. lost and perishing sinners. The

1. We may observe that the more we are humbled and abased Lord characterises his own people in our own eyes, the more shall we by their poverty or humility and see of God in that wondrous plan contrition of spirit

, and their of redemption which is made trembling at his word. Though known in the gospel; the more God in the gospel of his grace will our proud and presumptuous brings his righteousness nigh to reasonings be brought down and the stout-hearted and those that the more firmly shall we believe it. are far off from righteousness; yet If ever we enter into the kingdom while they continue such, they will of God, we must receive it as a never submit themselves to the little child, Matt. xviii. 2-4. righteousness of God. His first 4. This state of mind consists saving work upon the soul, there well with our highest spiritual confore, is, to bring down the lofty solation in this world, and by a looks of men and humble the wise constitution of things is made haughtiness of their hearts. Is. ii. subservient unto it. " The meek 11-22. And this He does by shall increase their joy in the means of the doctrine of the Cross Lord.” Isa. xxix. 19. Carnal pro--enlightening their understand. fessors are apt to imagine that a ings into its import and meaning-poor and contrite spirit is a disand causing them to believe it to tressing melancholy state of mind; the saving of the soul. 1 Cor. i. but they know not the spiritual 30, 31. Thus they are led to deny consolation which attends it, and their own righteousness, and to which those who experience it “ glory only in the Lord." would not exchange for all the joys

2. Though a humble and con of the world. It is not only a trite spirit does not merit the divine state of mind susceptible of spirifavour; yet in the order and nature tual consolations; but it is in itself of things, it evidently fits or dis- a happy state of mind. In learnposes men to desire, relish, and ing of Christ to be meek and lowly enjoy it; just as hunger fits us for of heart we find rest to our souls

, food, or a pining disease makes us and are freed from the turmoil prize and desire the Physician. incidental to pride and hardness

« PreviousContinue »