Page images

tbruch insignificant in the even där, un peu one sbo really speaks sed acts im spes indis. Creetly, yet to make him the souest diment of consesiog bis grace to many is so His design is the same now, as in the dass sie fpostles, that no flesh should glory in his preR2: : 2.7 nas see and acknowledge, respecting Cars 225, toe truth of the Apostle's declaration-Oj kia, 63. , o God, are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is *:} xato us wisdom, and righteousness, and someticctice, and redemplion: that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

It is only the same divine grace that is efficacious TO EDIFY THE CONVERTED MAX.

It is true that the ministry of the word is the means of edification. It is appointed of God for that purpose. Eph. iv, 11,12. He gare some Apos!les, and some Prophets, and some Erangelists, and some Pastors, and Teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Yet it is but the means, and effectual only as the Holy Ghost makes it so. All our growth in piety is in proportion to the free grace of God, given according to his own infinite love and good pleasure. Eph. i, 5; Phil. ii, 13. The Apostle, in the case of the Thessalonians, puts this distinction very clearly and expressly. They

The debate between an aged Christian of little human learning, who had suffered in the persecutions, and an arrogant Philosopher, who derided the Clergy as ignorant, is very instructive. While many Christians were fearful as to the result, the Philosopher was so strack with the plain account of the creation; the incarnation, life, and death of Christ, and the future judgment, given by the Christian, that he owned himself vanquished, declaring that he was changed by a divine intluence. See Sozomen, lib. i, ch. xvii; or Milner, vol. ii, p. 57.

were greatly edified by his preaching, and be shews why they were so; our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. It is this divine power that takes away prejudices, (2 Cor. x, 5.) and makes a lasting impression by writing the truth on our hearts. Jer. xxxi, 31 ; 2 Cor. iii, 3.

That the Holy Spirit is the only efficient cause of all spiritual edification, might easily be shewn at length, by going through all the graces of the advanced Christian, and marking how his faith, his repentance, humility, love to God, and deadness to the world are given him from above. One passage may suffice-the fruit of the Spirit, (not of our natural power and disposition, not of the talents of man, not of eloquence and learning, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

The experience of Christians corresponds with this statement. The same truths have a very different effect on our minds at different times, when we can assign no ordinary cause adequate to account for this difference, Sometimes when we read the Bible, or hear sermons, we feel dead and dull, wandering and distracted; we strive perhaps against it, and yet feel equally lifeless and incapable of raising our thoughts heavenward to God. At other times the word is quick and powerful, every part of it seems full of weighty and important truth, our hearts are softened and made tender, we receive the Gospel, we retain it, and are edified by those very truths which at a former season made ne impression at all. The principles which we have maintained from the Holy Scriptures explain all this. In one case it pleases God justly to withhold that grace to which we

have no claim, and can only receive at any time, of unmerited mercy; and at another time, in boundless mercy and undeserved love, he worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

The variety which we may observe among real Christians springs from one and the self-same Spirit dividing to every man severally as he will. A great difference may be seen among Christians. There are those of whose final acceptance with God we should be sorry to doubt, for they appear to be resting on the only sure foundation, our Lord Jesus Christ, and to be generally upright and sincere in their conduct; yet their tempers are but little subdued and sanctified, their conversation is generally on worldly things, or the mere externals of religion, and they manifestly enjoy little comfort in the ways of godliness.

But you sometimes see another character, a devoted Christian, whose heart is filled with love to Christ. There is a holy atmosphere, as it were, about him. Wherever he goes, he is a blessing. He is like a fra. grant flower brought into a room, the refreshing odour of which diffuses itself among all the company.* His reception of the truth has made him meek and humble, kind and loving, 'holy and devout, cheerful and happy. He goes about doing good, a fair pattern of the great Redeemer, in whom he is trusting and rejoicing, in whose presence he lives, and whose glory he is daily advancing.

The whole of this difference is according as God the

4 Hindoo convert recently expressed this sentiment to his Christian instructor thus beautifully, “ May God's mercy be with you: for ever I bless him that I have seen you; as the Sandal tree communicates its fragrance to every thing that touches it, so may I retain the savour of your conversation.”

Holy Spirit deals to every man the measure of grace. There is no Christian disposition of which he is not the author. The lukewarm Christian seeks not, or seeks not constantly, and earnestly, this aid. The devoted Christian quickened by the Spirit of Christ, has sought and obtained a large supply of the Spirit, and he enters fully into the declaration, We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, our sufficiency is of God.

Immediately connected with our edification are three important blessings, imparted by the Holy Spirit through bearing, which it may be profitable more particularly to consider: The knowledge of the glory of Christ--the consolation of the soul of the believer--and his sealing unto the day of redemption.

(1.) The Holy Spirit specially GLORIFIES CHRIST IN THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD. Our Lord'speaking of the work of the Spirit says, (Johp xvi, 13, 14.) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, and he will shew you things to come.

He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. The Holy Ghost shews us unsearchable riches in Christ, suited to all our wants, and never to be exhausted. He discovers to us, efficaciously and experimentally, wisdom in Christ for our ignorance, righteousness for our guilt and condemnation, sanctification for our pollution, and full redemption from all our misery and ruin. We cannot discern this of ourselves. Our minds are covered with prejudice, and our hearts filled with the love of sin. The Holy Spirit removes our prejudices, purifies our affections, and enables us to discern the inexpressible value of Christ and his salvation. By



The form in which the Apostle speaks when he says God giveth the increase, claims attention, as it excludes the hearer as well as the preacher. The Apostle does not say the hearer of the word produces the increase from the good use of his own powers. The views which some entertain, had they been correct, would have led to such a mode of expression. They would have said, All depends on the state of

your own mind. If you have a good heart, and a right disposition, then you will hear with advantage. This is very true in one way,


false in another. It is true, if we duly regard God's grace, making the heart good, and giving suitable dispositions, and blessing the ministry of the word: but it is false, if we imagine any man has by nature a good heart; for where is the heart naturally disposed to spiritual' and heavenly things? where is the man with a truly holy disposition, or that has by his own power and ability acquired it? None such can be found. The special grace of God is wanting for that very preparation of the heart which is needful for our hearing aright; or, in the words of the church of England, “We have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, (that is, preceding or going before us] that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will."

The expression giveth the increase, however, suggests that it pleases God to work through the instrumentality of man.

It is not God makes the Christian without means,' God does the work without employing man's agency;' but the expression is such as to shew that man must plant and water, must faithfully use all the appointed means, or he cannot expect the wished-for increase. Thus are we equally guarded against proud,

« EelmineJätka »