Page images

represented as the Author of our spiritual life. All the virtues which animate and adorn our hearts, all the good works which shine forth in our lives, are attributed to his invisible but powerful operations, quickening us from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, working together with us in the appropriate language of our church, "going before us, that we may have a good will; and working with us, when we have that good will;" and by his instruction we think the things that are good, and by his merciful guiding perform the same ; and in all things it is he who directs and rules our hearts. The holy graces and virtues, then, which animate and rule our souls, are the evidences that he dwells in us by his sanctifying power; and by them he witnesses that we are translated from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

You behold, then, professing Christians, the standard by which you may test your title to the glorious privileges of your Christian calling.

The descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles, and the miraculous works which, through his power, they performed; the establishment of the Gospel in the world by their supernatural labours, and the constant fulfilment of those prophecies which the Holy Ghost indited--these are general evidences to Christians, they are the general witness of the Spirit that those who have received, by a lively and obedient faith, that Saviour whom this Gospel sets forth, are " children of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”

But the evidence to each Christian that he is entitled to these privileges, must be sought in the sanctifying operations of the Spirit on his owa

soul. He has been regenerated in baptism, born
again into a new state, a state of salvation, and made,
on the conditions of repentance and faith, a mem-
ber of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of
the kingdom of heaven. For the apostle says, “ Ye
are saved by the washing of regeneration; and by
one Spirit we are all baptized into one body," and
thus enjoy a title to the privileges of this body.
But these privileges of his baptismal regeneration,
conditionally conferred, will be forfeited, unless
his baptismal vows, which pledged him to die to
sin and to rise again unto righteousness, be fulfilled
:-unless, in the language of the apostle, he be the
subject of the renewing of the Holy Ghost, be
transformed by the renewing of his mind. In our
regeneration, we are called into a state of salvation,
a state in which the forgiveness of our sins, and all
the blessings of salvation, are conferred on us, on
certain conditions. Our renovation consists in the
fulfilment of these conditions; by being born of
God; by mortifying our sinful passions in the
figurative language of Scripture, by putting off the
old man, and, in the same figurative language, by
putting on the new man, created anew in Christ
Jesus unto good works. If then, through the power
of divine grace, pledged to us as the members of
Christ's mystical body the church, and conveyed
to us through its ministry and ordinances, we are
quickened from the death of sin unto the life of
righteousness, and crucify the flesh with its affec-
tions and lusts; abound in all the fruits of the
Spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and live
righteously, soberly, and godly in the world; then
we may be assured that we enjoy the witness of
Vol. III.


[blocks in formation]

the Spirit of God, and of our own spirit, that we are the children of God.

Try yourselves then, professing Christians, by this standard, and by this standard alone. All expectation of some special and distinct revelation of the Spirit to the mind, apart from his sanctifying influence upon them, is wholly unauthorized. It is as dangerous as it is unauthorized. The impulses of the imagination, of animal sensibilities, and of heated passions, may be mistaken for the impulses of the Spirit of God; and the spirit of delusion, instead of the Spirit of truth, may obtain dominion over you, and lead you to false hopes, and to dangerous security. But ascertain that your hearts are the subjects of his holy influence, so thai, in the forcible and scriptural language of our church in her baptismal offices, “all sinful affections die in you, and all things belonging to the Spirit live and grow in you; and that, through him, you are endued with heavenly virtues, and are daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living;” and you may be assured that you have the Holy Spirit witnessing with your spirit that you are children of God.

Commence without delay, then, this important scrutiny. By the power of the Holy Ghost, in signs, and wonders, and mighty works, God hath assured to you a revelation of his will, the exceeding great and precious promises of his Gospel. By the gracious covenant, of which your baptism was the seal, he conveyed to you a title to these promises. You were made children and heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, of immortal glory. If seduced, by the false but alluring objects by which the world tempts you, to forget your high vocation, you despise or neglect these privileges, and fail to secure them; and, instead of exercising repentance and faith, mortifying the deeds of the body, and living to the service of God, you live only to the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof-you will incur the tremendous guilt of contemning the counsel of God for your salvation; instead of continuing the children and heirs of God, you will make yourselves the children and heirs of him whose works ye do; and, instead of being jointheirs with Christ of immortal glory, you will be (the sentence will be just, the condemnation unavoidable) heirs, with the devil and his angels, of overlasting wo.

But if, fulfilling the conditions of the Gospelcovenant, dead to sin and living unto righteousness, born of God, so that you are new creatures in Christ Jesus, you can indulge the humble hope that you are entitled to the witness of the Spirit testifying with your own bearts that you are entitled to the privileges of your Christian calling, transcendently exalted and happy is your condition. God is your reconciled God and Father; and the affection of the most ardent earthly parent is not to be compared with the love which your heavenly Father exercises towards you. The watchfulness and solicitude of the most affectionate earthly parent for the child of his hopes, afford but a faint idea of the watchful solicitude with which your heavenly Father regards you, his children in Jesus Christ. The pleasures and glory of the world are not worthy of a comparison with those transcendent blessings to which you are heirs. You are jointheirs with the Son of God, and he hath gone before to take possession of the promised inheritance;


you shall share with him a kingdom that shall never be moved, a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

What love and gratitude to your God and Saviour, and what holy superiority to the corrupting pleasures of the world—what inflexible resistance to its temptations—what patience and consolation under its adversities—what joy and triumph amid all the varied scenes of life, should these most exalted privileges inspire in your souls! They were conditionally conferred in your baptism ; secure them by the constant exercise of that holy faith which purifieth the heart, which leads you to keep all the commandments and ordinances of God. Take heed lest, seduced by the temptations of the world, you fall short of the promised glory. Guided and defended by the Spirit of God, persevere unto the end. Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. The Lord of hosts is with you. In the time of trouble he will be your refuge, in the hour of temptation your strength; even through the valley of the shadow of death he will be with you; and you shall finally reach your Father's home. In the glories of his presence you shall enjoy your inheritance with your Saviour, who hath gone before to prepare it for you—a happiness exalted as the highest heavens, and lasting as the ages of eternity.

« PreviousContinue »