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perform any thing properly good, nor resist and conquer temptation; but the devil, the world, and the flesh, drag it hither and thither, at pleasure and uncontrolled. It is helpless, corrupted by sin, filthy and polluted, and only fit to be removed out of the sight (as it were) of an holy God, to whom it is now become abominable, and buried in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.
9. In this condition the moral law leaves mankind. Considered in itself as a covenant of works, it points us to no remedy, but rather pronounces us incurable, and our case desperate. Not so the gospel; it is a ministration of the Spirit. It informs us of, and offers to the Holy Spirit of, God, whose office it is to restore our souls to spiritual life, and heal all the diseases which by sin we have contracted. Therein we are told that when Christ “ascended up on high, and led captivity captive, he received gifts for men, even for the rebellious ; that the Lord God might dwell among them ;'** that in him all fulness dwells, and that out of his fulness we may receive grace
for grace.”t. Therein we are informed of the “ saving grace of God appearing to all men," and of the true light enlightening every man that cometh into the world."| And we are assured, if we do not quench this light and reject this grace, it shall be imparted more and more, to guide, renew, and comfort us. For in the gospel Christ offers “ to baptize us with the Holy Ghost and with fire ;” to “ live in us, that we may live also ;” to “ quicken us, and raise us up, and make us sit together with himself in heavenly places." He promises, if we will come to him and drink, out of our belly," (figuratively speaking)
6 shall flow rivers of living water;"& such abundance of spiritual life shall we possess, that it shall overflow (as it were) for the quickening and refreshment of others ; yea, he assures us, (if we ask) he will give us living water, and that water shall be in us a well of water springing up to life eternal." Now - all this he speaks of the Spirit which they who believe on him do receive," that Spirit which is offered in the gospel, and which, accompanying its truths when delivered, renders them the
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. 10. By this Spirit we are again united to God, and put in possession of spiritual life. Our eyes are opened, and we see the dreadful situation we are in by nature and practice; we discover the ruin that hangs over our guilty heads, and threatens to bury us in eternal destruction. Our deaf ears are unstopped, and we hear the voice of him “that raiseth the dead, and calleth things that are not as though they were ;" calleth us to come forth out of the grave of sin, that we may live a new life, a life hid with Christ in God. i
* Psal. Ixviii. 18. Eph. iv. 8. S John vii. 37,
+ John i. 16. | Tit. ii. 11. : Johp i: 9.
#John iv. 10, 14.
mean, our understanding is enlightened with the light of life, and we are made acquainted with things spiritual and divine, which, while destitute of the Spirit, we could not discern. Our conscience also is roused from its lethargy, and we are convinced of sin and of righteousness. We are now no longer insensible of grief and pain on account of the sins we have committed, and the punishment we have deserved ; or of joy and delight, on account of what Christ hath done and suffered for us, and the prospect of eternal glory he hath opened to our view. But we feel the most tender and lively affections, excited by the things of God, which before we could contemplate with total unconcern.
11. The Holy Spirit has stripped sin of its disguise, and beholding the monster in all its deformity and mischief, we fear and tremble at the thoughts of our former danger from it, and are distressed for our foolish and wicked intimacy with so destructive an enemy. Holiness is now unmasked, and blooming in all its beauty, kindles in our hearts the most fervent love to, and inflames our souls with the warmest desires after, an object so incomparably excellent, and worthy of our highest regard. We lament and are amazed at our former indifference, and resolve to make amends (so to speak) for what is past, by the most careful attention to, and diligent endeavours after it, for the time to come. In the meantime, considering the great and precious promises, which are all given to us, that we may be made partakers of the divine nature, we rejoice in hope of possessing, to our entire and endless satisfaction, this holiness so amiable in our eyes.
12. In hope of possessing it did I say? Nay, we rejoice in the actual possession of it in a great degree. For, being “in Christ, we are new creatures, old things are done away, and all things in us are become new. Sin hath not dominion over us, which in time past it had, because we are not under the law, (the covenant of works which killeth, nor the Mosaic dispensation which was imperfect) but under grace, a dispensation of pardoning mercy, which giveth life, and of divine influences which save from sin. This covenant of grace, which is the “ law of the Spirit of Life from Christ Jesus, hath made us free from the law of sin and death :" and being hereby "made free from sin, we become servants to God, bear
fruit unto holiness, and the end is everlasting life."** For through a faith of the operation of God, (the grand means of sanctification as well as justification,) being persuaded of God's trụe and faithful promises, and relying upon him for the accomplishment of them, we derive the Spirit of life, of light, and power into our souls, and assisted by his all-sufficient grace, we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God.” Believing, we love, and loving, we obey : our obedience is sincere, universal, constant, and persevering; we pay a due respect to all his commandments, and become at last "holy, as he that hath called us is holy, in all manner of conversation and godliness.”
13. Hence that same Spirit which is our light in darkness, our strength in weakness, our life in death, our entire sanctification ; is also our succour in temptation, our comfort in trouble, our true and only happiness.We can now rejoice in the divine favour, as well as in the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have our conversation in the world.”+ Our guilty fears, desponding doubts, and overwhelming griefs, give place and disappear, while the Comforter shines forth, in all his radiant glory, and revives and cheers our drooping hearts. Through his agency the fogs and mists of ignorance and error, sin and misery, suspend their baleful influence, nay, speedily vanish, and light and truth, holiness and heaven, diffuse their joyous lustre throughout our souls. He pacifies the conscience, calms the passions, and introduces into our minds a peace which passeth all understanding. He inflames us with love, inspires us with hope, and fills us with joy, even a joy unspeakable and full of glory. By his operation we are assured of the favour of God, adopted into his family, and prepared for the glory and felicity above. And though “ eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, what God hath prepared for them that love him," yet be. cause God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, therefore we do, and must rejoice in prospect of them. “We abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost," and therefore in joy; "we rejoice greatly," (even though " for a season, if need be, we are in heavi. ness through manifold temptations,”') in expectation of soon possessing an “inheritance which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and which fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us ;"'and an earnest of which we have by the Spirit in our hearts.
* Rom. viii. 2. and vi. 18.
# 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10.
+ 2 Cor. i. 12. $ 1 Pet. i. 4.-6.
14. Such are some of the happy effects produced by that Spirit which the gospel offers, and which is the chief glory of it, its distinguishing privilege. In this respect chiefly, we discern the supe. riority of the Christian to the Mosaic dispensation. Not but that the Holy Spirit was in some degree given under the law ; undoubtedly it was : whatever holiness or happiness the pious Israelites possessed, they owed to its influences, and very eminent for holiness and happiness, it is manifest, many of them were. But it was not given so largely nor so universally as since Christ's glorification, after he had finished the work which was given him to do. This conclusion we cannot but draw from a variety of passages in holy writ, which it is unnecessary to quote on this occasion. One I shall mention, which is so plain and express, and so full to the purpose, that it may well serve instead of a thousand, and help us to under, stand others which in different places occur upon this subject, but are less clear and determinate. John vii. 37, 38, the apostle tells us, “ Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink; he that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, (hath testified in many places,) out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Now this (St. John says,) he spake of the Spirit, which they who believed on him, spełdov dope bavery, were afterwards to receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." From hence it is manifest, beyond all contradiction, that there is a sense in which the Spirit was not given before Christ's glorification, as it was to be given afterwards, and that this sense respects not only or chiefly his extraordinary and miraculous operations, but also and especially his ordinary influences, because it is promised to all believers without limitation, in all nations and ages.
15. One more property of the gospel, I shall take occasion, from the preceding chapter, to mention. The apostle there, ver. 11, affirms of the law that it was to be abolished, and of the gospel that it remaineth. The Mosaic dispensation was of a temporary nature, and only intended to continue for a time: it was to make way for and give place to better, when in the fulness of time God should send forth his Son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption
But the gospel is an institution that shall abide for ever. As it is the best dispensation God ever made with man, so it is the last he will ever make. We look for none to succeed it: nay, we do not expect any alteration to be made in it. On the contrary, we are assured, it is unchangeable in its nature, and eternal in its con
sequences. It is the one, fixed, and unalterable way in which God' will save sinners while the world stands : and all saved in this way shall for ever rejoice in the salvation thus obtained. It will not only continue with them through life, as their glory and their joy, but through death also. When they " walk through the valley of the shadow of death they shall fear no evil,” for the salvation of the gospel is with them. This, like Elijah's mastle, shall cause the waters of mortality to divide hither and thither, that they may go through on dry land. And shall it desert them when passed over, when in Canaan? Oh no! They are then but entering upon the full enjoyment of gospel blessings, the entire possession of their heavenly inheritance: They then receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls.
16. For life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel. Not contented within the narrow bounds of time, it launches out into an eternal state, and there expatiates at large. It not only acquaints us with what shall hereafter be transacted within the sphere of creation and limits of time, but it unfolds the mysteries of eternity, and conducts our contemplations through the immensity of the Godhead. "It burns the present world, triumphs over death by a general resurrection, and opens all into an eternal state." The restoration of those bodies to immortal life, which were reduced to corruption and dust in the grave; the conflagration and dissolution of this beautiful system of things ; the decisive trial of men and angels at his bar, who once expired upon an ignominious cross between two thieves'; and the issue of all in the everlasting destruction of the finally impenitent, and the eternal glory of the righteous ; these are the im. portant events revealed in the gospel, but which I must now forbear to consider.
17. And now, my brethren, say if this gospel, so surprising and wonderful in its discoveries; so deep and unsearchable in its mysteries ; so alarming and dreadful in its threatenings ; so comforting and delightful in its promises; and so enriching and ennobling in its privileges and blessings ; say if this gospel does not well deserve the serious attention, diligent study, and hearty reception of all !
« What heart of stone but glows at thoughts like these
Such contemplations mount us; and should mount