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a brief and languid service; whilst secret prayer degenerates into a cold, uninteresting performance of unwelcome duty. And what is the consequence? Praying little for our house, holds, our children, our congregations, our friends, our families, our dependants, or the church of God; the blessing which God has connected with the cordial and diligent performance of this duty, is of course withheld. Events, in the mean time, perpetually occur, which might have turned to our benefit, had they not, for want of a devotional spirit, been employed as occasions of pride, envy, selfishness, dispute, murmuring, and separation. Thus not only our salvation is not advanced by them, but the things which should have been to our health, become unto us even an occasion of falling. It is the humble and spiritual Christian alone who can entertain the holy confidence of the text, because he alone fulfils with anxious diligence the condition on which it is suspended.
This will be more evident if we consider the EFFICIENT CAUSE of this salutary tendency of events to the faithful Christian; I mean, the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The way in which God is pleased to turn every thing to our salvation, is through the gracious aid of the Holy Ghost. This alone can make an affliction truly profitable. And prayer is the means of
accomplishing this effect, chiefly as it calls down upon us this heavenly influence.
The Holy Ghost is described as the SPIRIT OF Jesus CHRIST, because he proceeds from the Son, as well as from the Father, and because the more copious effusion of his grace was purchased by the atonement of Christ's death, and is bestowed by him, now that he has been by the right hand of God eralted, and has received of the Father the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit is also Christ's representative on earth during his personal absence; he is the
Comforter, whom the Father hath sent in his name. He glorifies Christ, by testifying of his person and work, revealing his salvation, and enabling the penitent by faith to appropriate and rejoice in its blessings. The Holy Ghost
was not given, when our Saviour was on earth, :. because that Jesus was not yet glorified. But now, Christ being glorified, because we are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, so that, if any man have 'not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. cis , It may even be said, that it is by THE SUPPLY OF THIS SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST that all events turn to our salvation, because it is by this supply alone that the Christian is enabled to bear them humbly, and learn from them the lessons they are designed to teach. Afflictions have in tbemselves no natural tendency to pro
duce any holy effects. Indeed, so far from it, the sorrow of the world worketh death. Saul, in his trouble, perished on his own sword. Ahab, disappointed at Naboth's refusal, turned away his face and would eat no bread. Ahitophel, grieved at the rejection of his counsel, destroyed himself. Judas, tormented with an evil conscience, committed the like dreadful crime. Many professed Christians seem to go on well till affliction or persecution arising because of the word, they are entangled by the toils of Satan, their real character is disclosed, and partial or total apostacy ensues. Even the sincere Christian is far too weak to support an affliction, to use it to its right ends, or even to meet it at first with a suitable frame of heart, without the supply of the Holy Ghost. When this grace accompanies a calamitous visitation, then, and then only, does it soften, humble, and purify the soul; then only it exercises Christian virtues without overwhelming them, and tends to our salvation instead of our injury.
The expression, a SUPPLY of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, may seem to intimate that on ' every new occasion of difficulty, an additional communication of assistance is needful, in order to render that difficulty subservient to our final benefit. Our resources must correspond, through the mercy of God, with our necessities, or every thing will decline. Former supplies will not
avail us on new emergencies. Our faith soon fails, and our knowledge, our prudence, our fortitude, our resignation, our love, all quickly vanish, when fresh and unlooked-for trials arise. We then often find it impossible to apply our former experience and observation to the instant pressure. It is only by the further supply of continual strength from the Spirit of Christ, that we can maintain the conflict; and such a supply when vouchsafed, like the cooling stream to the exhausted traveller, refreshes and cheers and invigorates the soul. It secretly feeds the languid fame which seemed almost extinguished. Like the dew of Hermon that descended on the Mount of Zion, or like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even unto Aaron's beard, and went down to the skirts of his clothing, it infuses life into the fainting spirit, rouses the drooping heart, and sustains it in the severest combat,
The word which, in the text, is rendered supply, is considered by a great critic *, as signifying much more than an ordinary measure of assistance; as expressing the idea of a large supply, a provision of whatever is wanting to the Christian soldier, a collation of auxiliary force, a renewed subsidy of grace, an unusual succour derived from the invincible and infallible
* Dr. Isaac Barrow,
Spirit of God, a power from on high, a heavenly might, which comes in at the very crisis of affairs. For when the battle has long raged and appears almost lost, when the contest is at the very height, when faith begins to fail, the arm to sink, and the soul to tremble, then the superadded grace of the Spirit of Christ opportunely bestowed, turns the hitherto doubtful day. The warrior is renewed for the fight; the battle is carried; the victory is won.
It is thus that by the aid of mutual prayer and the efficient operation of the Spirit of Christ, the Christian derives profit from affliction, joy from tribulations, hope from trouble, and life from death. It is thus that the control of our gracious Father over events which are without us, combined with the holy operations of his blessed Spirit within us, carry us forward on our journey through this world to heaven. Providence thus concurs with grace ; the external circumstance with the inward disposition : the man is fitted for the burden, and the strength for the exigency. What would ruin the soul, if left to its own weakness, tends to its salvation under the control of almighty power. What would otherwise overthrow our faith, now confirms it; what would separate us from God, unites us to him. Events acquire a new character, and turn to a new end. Mutual prayer is the medium of connexion between afflictions